About Neil Franklin

Neil Franklin is Insight's news editor

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Average UK worker takes just half an hour for lunch each day

Average UK worker takes just half an hour for lunch each day

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The average worker in Britain now takes just 34 minutes for their lunch break with over half of workers (52 percent) skipping their lunch break completely – a significant shift from the traditional one hour break.  Londoners are most likely to skip their lunch hour altogether, closely followed by Birmingham, Manchester and Norwich. This is according to new research from Workthere, the flexible workspace search service launched by Savills last year. Workthere commissioned a poll of 2,000 full time workers across Britain on their lunchtime habits to find out how long they actually take. The results show that office employees eat at their desk on average four days per week and even when they do take a break, they often don’t step out of the office, with over a third of those polled (37 percent) saying they rarely leave the office at lunch time. Additionally, 12 percent agreed they felt pressure to work through their lunch hour. Workthere also asked how the office environment affects these behaviours and found that over a third (36 percent) of those questioned said that access to outside space at lunchtime would make them more productive at work, with 32 percent confirming a quiet area to escape to would make a difference to the time they spend on their break.

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If you want a proper holiday this year, ditch the tech

If you want a proper holiday this year, ditch the tech

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According to a new study from the Institute of Leadership & Management, the majority of people already know that the best thing they can do to enjoy a proper break is disconnect from technology, although whether they act on this knowledge appears to be a different matter. The ILM reports that 56 percent of managers say taking a holiday in a remote location without wi-fi connection would leave them feeling relieved.  But it’s getting harder and harder for us to ‘switch off’ from work once we are away, with managers craving holidays in remote corners of the world where they can escape the ‘always on’ connectivity culture. Most managers don’t take proper breaks from work on holiday, with 37 percent admitting to checking their work emails every day of their holiday to avoid a backlog of work when they return to work.

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Link between offices and wellbeing is too important for landlords and occupiers to ignore

Link between offices and wellbeing is too important for landlords and occupiers to ignore

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Developers and landlords who invest to create offices that embody the occupier-driven focus on wellbeing will reap their rewards commercially while those that don’t face diminishing returns, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield. The Well Workplace report claims to map out the major trends, opportunities and challenges of the future facing owners and occupiers of commercial office space due to the growing emphasis on employee health and vitality as part of the work environment.  Improved lighting, layout and use of plants are all known to benefit wellbeing and can increase employee performance. Gains through boosting performance far outweigh potential cost savings through real estate efficiencies – making the imperative for occupiers clear, according to the report’s authors.

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Employee wellbeing rising up UK corporate agenda in comparison to other countries, claims report

Employee wellbeing rising up UK corporate agenda in comparison to other countries, claims report

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A study from the Top Employers Institute claims that employee wellbeing in the UK has risen up the corporate agenda with 82 percent of many large companies consistently defining an organisation-wide total wellbeing programme in 2017, increasing from 73 percent in 2016. What’s more, the impact and effectiveness of programmes are evaluated consistently with 71 percent doing so, up from 65 percent last year, while employee wellbeing education has also jumped from 61 percent to 85 percent in the last year. This compares to global Top Employers increasing employee wellbeing programmes from 67 percent to 68 percent, evaluation increasing from 55 percent to 57 percent and employee education increasing from 20 percent to 21 percent in the last year. The data comes from research into 71 companies certified as Top Employers UK for 2016, and 78 companies certified in 2017, plus a further 1,100 globally.

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Large majority of working mothers cut short maternity leave over job fears

Large majority of working mothers cut short maternity leave over job fears

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New research claims that just 12 percent of working mothers take a full year’s maternity leave and almost one in five (18 percent) take four months or less. The research claims that almost half (44 per cent) of working mothers were unhappy with how they had been treated by their employer during their pregnancy and after their return to work. While many mothers return for financial reasons or simply because they want to, many worry about being side-lined, edged out or feel pressure from their boss to go back. The survey of 2,000 working mothers by law firm Slater and Gordon found that almost a third (30 percent) felt their managers wouldn’t have supported them staying off for any longer, and thirty-nine per cent weren’t sure their job would be waiting for them when they went back.

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Remote workers should not be out of sight, out of mind when it comes to wellbeing

Remote workers should not be out of sight, out of mind when it comes to wellbeing 0

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Line managers who supervise distributed or remote workers should look after their wellbeing and manage the risks they face, a new study recommends. Nearly half of all workers in Western Europe (129.5 million) spend at least some time working away from a main office or location, a number that seems to be increasing. With limited regular face-to-face contact, problems accessing safety and health resources, and having more than one place of work – where risks might be harder to predict and control – managing the health and safety of distributed workers presents significant challenges. Findings, advice, case studies and practical resources published by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which sponsored this work by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), Kingston University London and Affinity Health at Work, show the vital roles managers have in helping assure their remote workers’ safety. Out of Sight, Out of Mind explores existing research, leadership styles and models, elements of management and communication, and direct contact with safety and health practitioners.

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Long commutes are major source of poor health and low productivity

Long commutes are major source of poor health and low productivity 0

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Long hours spent commuting to work are some of the main causes of poor health and low productivity, according to a large-scale study from the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace index, a joint venture between insurer VitalityHealth, the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer. According to the study of more than 34,000 workers, people commuting less than half an hour each day to get to work gain an additional seven days’ worth of productive time each year compared with those with commutes of 60 minutes or more. Longer commutes also appear to have a significant impact on mental wellbeing, with workers who have a long commute 33 percent more likely to suffer from depression, 37 percent more likely to have financial concerns and 12 percent more likely to develop various forms work-related stress. These workers are also 46 percent more likely to get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night and 21 percent more likely to be obese. The research suggests that offering flexible working is the best way to mitigate the negative effects of commuting.

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Digital workplace accelerates blurring of lines between IT, HR and finance roles

Digital workplace accelerates blurring of lines between IT, HR and finance roles 0

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To help ‘organisations thrive in a competitive digital marketplace’, Oracle and the MIT Technology Review have released a new study that highlights the importance of collaboration between finance and human resources (HR) teams with a unified cloud. The study, Finance and HR: The Cloud’s New Power Partnership, outlines how a ‘holistic view into finance and HR information’, delivered via cloud technology, empowers organisations to better manage continuous change in the workplace. Based on a global survey of 700 C-level executives and finance, HR, and IT managers, the study claims that a shared finance and HR cloud system is a critical component of successful transformation initiatives.

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UK government unveils £1 billion ultrafast broadband fund to aid remote working

UK government unveils £1 billion ultrafast broadband fund to aid remote working 0

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The UK’s faltering move towards ultrafast broadband has been given a much-needed boost with the launch of a new fund, which will support the rollout of cutting-edge connections across the country. The government’s £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) will unlock over £1 billion for full fibre broadband, and kick-start better broadband connections across the country. Its aim is to revolutionise Britain’s digital infrastructure, making internet access more reliable for homes and businesses, and enabling more people to enjoy remote working without disruption. According to the Treasury, the flexibility to work remotely is pivotal for driving the economy forward; reducing overheads and helping businesses to start and grow.

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Skills gap costs British employers over £2 billion a year

Skills gap costs British employers over £2 billion a year 0

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A shortage of people with the right skills has cost companies more than £2 billion over the past year, despite employment being at a record high, according to the latest findings of The Open University Business Barometer. The study of hundreds of employers found that the majority of businesses have had to pay as much as £527 million above the market rate to recruit skilled workers. At small and medium-sized companies, the average salary increase amounted to £4,150 per recruit. At larger groups, it stood at £5,575. Companies said that they also had faced increased recruitment costs, including paying temporary staff to fill the gap while suitable candidates were found. Nine out of ten said that they had struggled to recruit people with the right skills.

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Fourfront Group announces merger of commercial interior businesses

Fourfront Group announces merger of commercial interior businesses 0

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Fourfront Group has merged design and fit-out company Area Sq with contractor Cube to create Area, one of the largest workplace design and fit-out firms in the UK. The move comes off-the-back of an 80 percent increase in Group turnover over the last three years. Fourfront Group now consists of three businesses: Area, Sketch Studios which specialises in office furniture and logistics, and 360 Workplace which provides workplace consultancy services. Area’s CEO Gary Chandler, said the merger was agreed to ensure that Fourfront Group “can deliver a single, focused offering to the market, allowing professional teams to engage with one business irrespective of procurement criteria, for the first time. The commercial design and fit-out market is evolving at rapid pace, as professional teams become more prevalent in the procurement of projects, acting on behalf of end-user clients. This bold move of merging two well-recognised brands will enable us to be more agile and aligned to our clients and their diverse requirements. With the creation of Area, we are bringing together expertise, market knowledge and skills to create a platform for delivering excellence.”

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One in five employees are too scared to ask for flexible working rights

One in five employees are too scared to ask for flexible working rights 0

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Over one in five (21 percent) UK private sector employees – equivalent to 5.5m nationally – are too afraid to discuss flexible working with their boss because they think they will say no, Aviva’s Working Lives report claims. The findings come despite employees having the legal right to make a ‘statutory application’ to their employer to change their working pattern . Those aged 35-49 are the most likely to refrain from exercising this right despite the challenge some in this age group may face with juggling work and family life: nearly one in four (24 percent) shy away from starting a conversation for fear of rejection.

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