Gallery: BCO awards UK’s best workplace to university in Norwich

Gallery: BCO awards UK’s best workplace to university in Norwich 0

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enterprise-centre-interior-lobby-architype-darren-carter-morgan-sindall-1020x610Norwich’s The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia has been named as the Best of the Best workplace at the British Council for Offices’ (BCO) annual National Awards in London. The office was also recognised as the Best Corporate Workplace in the UK, joining a list of six other award winners recognised for excellence in office space. The BCO’s National Awards programme recognises top quality office design and functionality and sets the standard for excellence across the office sector in the UK.  The University of East Anglia’s The Enterprise Centre was praised by judges for showcasing low carbon and sustainable design at its best. Judges commented that the workplace offered a wide range of highly flexible accommodation with incubation and collaborative spaces for new and developing businesses in a building equipped to deliver for the 21st century.

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How to save a sinking ship: lessons from Marissa Mayer’s experience at Yahoo

How to save a sinking ship: lessons from Marissa Mayer’s experience at Yahoo 0

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marissa_new4_400x400When former Google employee Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo as its CEO in 2012, she inherited the company’s vast problems. Though it was once seen as one of the first tech behemoths, Yahoo’s inability to come up with ground breaking products like Google and others, put it in a slow, steady decline. Mayer was immediately tasked with trying to reinvigorate the stagnating company. Her focus was to find a way to identify and retain talent, while phasing out ineffective employees. However, Yahoo’s new management policies have brought about much debate and criticism from HR experts. A controversial book by journalist Nicholas Carlson titled “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!” paints a highly critical view of Mayer’s first years as CEO. In response others have defended her, arguing that she has done the best she can with the resources available, but has become a scapegoat for poor management, like so many other women in powerful positions.

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The people centric urge to personalise space helps firms to engage employees

The people centric urge to personalise space helps firms to engage employees 0

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a97998_cubicle_5In America at least, the great symbol of corporate conformity is the office cubicle. Satirised in the Dilbert cartoons and a staple in any movie about the degrading aspects of modern working life, the cubicle provides a perfect shorthand way of portraying an individual crushed by the corporate jackboot. Yet what these things miss is the propensity of people to personalise their surroundings and claim a space as their own, even if only for the short time they may be there. This seems to be particularly the case when it comes to office design and so we were much taken with this blog which lists the most far out and quirky ways people in the US have found to personalise their cubicles. Of course the need and urge to personalise space are not limited to the US. We often find in the course of our own installations that the first thing people do when they occupy an office for the first time is to personalise their space.

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Opportunities and challenges crystallise for smart cities and buildings

Opportunities and challenges crystallise for smart cities and buildings 0

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Smart citiesGlobal law firm Osborne Clarke has released its fourth research report on smart cities and the future of the built environment. The new edition addresses a number of key issues related to the built environment and poses what it suggests are the two  key questions: How can the built environment become smarter? And what are the challenges and obstacles that might prevent this from happening? The report looks at case studies cross Europe and interviews experts in an attempt to discover how smart built environments ‘leverage data, new technology and innovative and collaborative thinking to deliver services that benefit citizens’. The report concludes that a fundamental  shift in thinking is already well underway but it is patchy and still faces a large number of major obstacles, not least a silo mentality in decision making which restricts the ability of organisations to innovate and achieve results across a broad base of objectives.

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Sea and space: the final frontiers for remote working and connectivity

Sea and space: the final frontiers for remote working and connectivity 0

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Captain_on_a_bridge_-_main2Tim Peake’s recent return home from space at the end of a six month stay in the International Space Station highlighted just how essential it is for people to stay in contact with their friends, family and the rest of the world, literally from wherever they may be. Of course, back on Earth we now take it for granted that we are in a state of constant connectedness to the rest of the world. So the idea of someone being out of contact, even for brief periods of time, strikes us as odd. Perhaps that partly explains our fascination with the experiences of astronauts and other people who cannot take connectivity for granted. But it’s not just astronauts who have to consider how to enjoy the connectedness that we normally assume to be ours by right. People who work at sea face the same challenge and you could argue that it is more important for such truly remote workers to be in contact with other people and the Internet. So who fares better when it comes to achieving connectivity?

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What happens when you take transparent office design to extremes

What happens when you take transparent office design to extremes 0

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133-wai-yip-street-5A rigid and unswerving adherence to a principle is rarely a good thing in the long run. This is perhaps doubly so when it comes to office design because the end result is often something that overlooks what offices are really for; namely giving human beings a place to go to be with one another. So, when you take a design dogma to extremes that ignore the human being that should be your core concern, you end up getting something like the office with no chairs, because ‘sitting is the new smoking’. Or you get the office made completely of glass because ‘transparency generates trust’. While it’s true that the Dutch firm MRVDV responsible for the refit of the building in Hong Kong has included some genuinely successful features, not least in the use of natural light and the environmental performance of the building, the interior itself is clearly the end product of meetings in which nobody felt comfortable telling everybody to knock it off.

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New workplace technology will automatically adapt offices to needs of staff

New workplace technology will automatically adapt offices to needs of staff 1

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workplace technologyA new generation of workplace technology that allows the working environment to adapt to the needs of individuals will attract people to work in offices and contribute to their productivity, wellbeing and happiness. That is the key finding of a new report from US office furniture giant Haworth. According to the white paper Enabling the Organic Workspace: Emerging Technologies that Focus on People, Not Just Space a new generation of sensors will measure how offices are used and allow them to adapt on a day to day basis by changing temperature and lighting levels and responding to employees’ needs and influencing their behaviour in other ways. The white paper suggests this will be a development of existing technologies in the way it adapts the immediate working environment to the specific needs of  an individual or group. This might even entail using biometrics to assess their psychological and emotional needs, according to the report.

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Google submits revised plans for California headquarters

Google submits revised plans for California headquarters 0

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google-new-hq-plans-5 smGoogle’s ambitious plans  for a new headquarters complex in California have been dramatically scaled back after the original plans were rejected by the City of Mountain View authorities. The original project came into question last year when it was revealed that Google’s plans were seen as overly ambitious given that they were competing for available space with LinkedIn’s plans for  an office on adjacent land. The new plans, created by Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group share many of the same objectives however, including an open design, extensive landscaping, a focus on both work and leisure facilities and a flexible and sustainable design. The new schematics present it essentially as Centre Parcs populated by hipsters. As one Insight contributor convincingly argued recently, this sort of design is impressive and ideal for Google but should not be taken as a blueprint for anybody else.

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Glassdoor announces lists of the best places to work for 2016

Glassdoor announces lists of the best places to work for 2016 0

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expedia_3077041kJob site Glassdoor has announced the winners of its annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honouring the best places to work across Europe and North America. The Awards are based on the input of employees who provide anonymous feedback by completing a company review about their job, work environment and employer. This year, Glassdoor has expanded the awards programme to include six categories, highlighting the Best Places to Work across the UK, France, Germany, US and Canada. This is the second time Glassdoor has identified the best places to work in the UK and the first time in both France and Germany. Winners are ranked based on their overall rating achieved during the past year based on a five point scale. According to Glassdoor, the top five UK Best Places to Work in 2016 are, in order: Expedia (average 4.4 rating), Hays Plc (4.4 rating), AKQA (4.2 rating), GE (4.2 rating), Schuh (4.1 rating).

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New study highlights the key roles of real estate at UK’s top law firms

New study highlights the key roles of real estate at UK’s top law firms 0

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Shoosmiths-4The UK’s top law firms are spending more on their real estate and allocating more space to staff, following years of reductions. Those are two of the key findings of a new report from The Lawyer magazine and property consultants JLL. Around  half of the UK’s Top 200 law firms shared detailed data with the study, which also incorporates publicly available information on transactions. The study also takes into account the links between real estate strategy and broader strategic, management and human resources issues. While the report says the amount of space dedicated to each lawyer has risen by 7 percent over the last two years and the costs of owning real estate have also risen markedly, it also describes how many firms are now actively using flexible working to reduce real estate costs.The report concludes with a speculative look at future trends, including the uptake of coworking space.

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We need to do more than pay lip service to workplace wellbeing

We need to do more than pay lip service to workplace wellbeing 0

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BlakeEnvelopes-WorkSpace1Too many companies continue to talk about employees as their ‘greatest asset’ yet their fine words are not always not borne out in their behaviour, be that through working culture, remuneration or environment. With more and more investors using employee wellness and engagement as a barometer for the health, stability and culture of the business – the concept of workplace wellbeing is finally garnering the attention it deserves. Our workplace behaviours, cultures and environments are not keeping us fit, well, productive, happy or profitable. Finally businesses are accepting their moral responsibility to take better care of their people. So what affects employee productivity, creativity and happiness and how can changes to the workplace promote the best financial and moral outcomes for businesses and employees alike?

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Proofs of the link between workplace design and productivity? Here are three

Proofs of the link between workplace design and productivity? Here are three

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workplace design and productivityThree new studies have joined the already extensive body of work linking workplace design and productivity. The most extensive is the research carried out by communications consultancy Lansons which looks at every aspect of the British workplace to uncover the experiences and most commonly held perceptions of around 4,500 workers nationwide. The study is broken down into a number of sections which examine topics such as workplace design, wellbeing, job satisfaction, personal development and leadership. The second is a study from the Property Directors Forum which explores the experiences of occupiers and finds a shift in focus away from cost reduction and towards investing to foster employee productivity. The final showcases the results of a post occupancy survey conducted by National Grid following the refurbishment of the firm’s Warwick headquarters by AECOM.

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