Is it now time to take a stand on sitting in the workplace?

Is it now time to take a stand on sitting in the workplace? 0

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standing in the workplaceThe search for wellbeing is taking over the workplace as companies look to attract and retain the very best talent. Bosting health, happiness and productivity in the office environment is now paramount to counter potential negative health effects and growing discontent from office workers. A key factor in this topic is the ill-effects caused by workers spending the vast majority of their day sitting inactive at their desks. Workers are now taking a stand in the office and companies are being forced to act. Recent research carried out by the American College of Cardiology reported that an office design that makes people sit at their desk or meeting room for hours every day is equally as bad as putting a cigarette in their hand; leaving them at raised risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

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How local approaches to ergonomics redefine worldwide standards

How local approaches to ergonomics redefine worldwide standards

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ergonomicsWe live in the Global Village, Marshall McLuhan’s construct of an electronically contracted world in which attitudes, cultures and our political, business and legislative framework begin to pull together. And yet still each nation is characterised by the little differences that set it apart from its neighbours and even nations on the other side of the globe. So while there are many common threads that bind workplace design in different countries many of the core issues that shape the way we design and manage offices, such as demographics, status, organisational culture, technology, legislation and corporate identity can  vary from country to country. The way these are viewed and the emphasis each country places on each of them shape how they manifest themselves in the local market.

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A preview of this year’s Milan International Furniture Fair 0

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Milan International Furniture FairOne of the least remarked upon consequences of the digital revolution of the past two decades has been its impact on the world of exhibitions. Not so long ago, these were one of the few ways people had of finding out about new products, firms, services and technologies. Now we can find as much as we would like about all of that kind of thing at any time, and so the exhibition has had to adopt a new role. In many ways, the changing role of shows has followed the same trajectory as that of offices. Far from becoming irrelevant or extinct, as some people predicted, they have instead developed a new prominence as platforms for new ideas, the sharing of information, meeting new people and reacquainting ourselves with old friends in the analogue world.

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Why Facebook and other tech giants still apply mainstream office design ideas 0

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Facebook-560x480This week Facebook moved into its new offices in Menlo Park, California. As you might expect they are somewhat out of the ordinary. Designed by Frank Gehry, they are bright, open and loaded with quirky and colourful design ideas. Yet upon closer inspection their underlying office design principles are often resolutely mainstream, not least the inclusion of what is billed as the world’s largest open plan office. In fact this has the personal backing of the CEO himself and has long been the core element in the brief because Facebook sees the idea of openness as being an essential part of its mission and business model. Mark Zuckerberg announced the opening of the building on his own Facebook page (where else?). In his official statement, he explains the thinking behind the design in an interesting way and it bears reproducing.

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Video: Perry Timms lays down some thoughts on the future of work

Video: Perry Timms lays down some thoughts on the future of work 0

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Regular readers will know we’re not too fond of the F Word at Insight. This isn’t because we think there is nothing to talk about when it comes to the future (what else did you think we meant?) of work and workplaces. We just believe that the word is now routinely misapplied to justify an endless effluvia of simplistic nonsense, absurd generalisations, undisguised commercialism and wishful thinking. Not to mention the eternally tedious idea that the ‘office of the future’ can be defined in very specific ways based on a few supposedly cool but actually infantile features borrowed from primary schools. Fortunately, all this misdirection makes the informed, wise and sober reflections of Perry Timms all the more powerful when he spoke recently at TedX in Bucharest to outline the challenges and opportunities of the future of work.

Managing the Millennials should be no different to the other generations

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Mult-generational workersThere is much debate about the way the group known as Millennials should be treated. Millennials, those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, are viewed as different to my peers, Generation X (those born in the 60s and 70s), and certainly vastly different in outlook to the post-war Baby Boomers and the pre-war Veterans. A stereotypical view is that these newbies are highly ambitious and want everything ‘now’, for example, regular pay rises and instant promotion without putting in the work. Yet I believe that Millennials should not be viewed as a distinct group and what we are in fact seeing are long-term changes as a result of trends in society and the workplace. So while employers may recognise the particular needs of Millennials it is these long-term changes they should really be addressing.

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Sino might: a review of the CIFF office design show in Guangzhou

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Guangzhou office designGuangzhou, about two hours by train from Hong Kong, is China’s third city. It is a sprawling metropolis. Apart from a cluster of skyscrapers and the busy, broad sweep of the Pearl River which carves the city into districts, it has few redeeming features. Unlike the previous years’ office design shows hosted in Guangzhou, the heavy rain stayed away and the weather was hot and humid. It would probably have been sunny, were it not for the pall of smog which constantly shrouds the city. The 35th China International Furniture Fair is too large to be held at one time in the 430,000 sq. m. China Import & Export Fair complex, so it’s split into two, five day phases, held six days apart. Billed as the ‘Fabulous Furniture Fair’, Phase 1 concentrated on residential furniture. Phase 2 was for CIFF Office and for Interzum – the furniture materials and machinery show.

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SMEs provide the key to encouraging more women onto boards

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SMEs should encourage more women onto boardsResearch from the Government, released last week, found that women now accounted for 23.5 percent of FTSE100 board members, up from 12.5 per cent in 2011. The target is 25 per cent by the end of this year, meaning that another 17 women need to be appointed. However the research showed that small companies are less diverse at the top, with woman accounting for 18 percent of directors of FTSE250 boards. As Chairman of a company which employs 220 people, I believe that unleashing the potential of women in the business is an excellent way to grow and develop organisations. The female perspective is very powerful in every issue within a business. It adds enormous value to clients, can often save money by offering a different way of doing things and creates a better working environment.

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Time to move on from the anachronistic display screen equipment regulations

Time to move on from the anachronistic display screen equipment regulations

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Not much of a guide to milking a Fresian

Not much of a guide to milking a Friesian

The European Display Screen Equipment Regulations were introduced in 1992 as a way of improving the posture and wellbeing of people working on computers in the office. That’s a long time ago. Too long, in fact. Here’s a list of thing that have happened since then – 1. The Internet. Actually, we can stop there. Any piece of workplace legislation that predates the Internet almost certainly won’t be fit for purpose, not least one that is based on how we should work with computers. Yet there it all is on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website. It’s all so hopelessly out of date, it’s like starting a farm using an Altamira cave painting as your guide. At the most straightforward level, you can take an image from one of the published guides such as this (below) and play a little game of spot the anachronism.

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MIPIM demonstrated how property industry is moving with the times

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16600996569_f9cd51af5f_kIn its 26th year, the colossus conference that is MIPIM was back in full flow. With 93 countries were present, 4, 500 investors and 22, 000 registered delegates there were numerous developments presenting opportunities around the world. And crucially, there were more people apparently buying than selling, meaning that strong investment activity will follow. A dumbfounding prediction from property agent Cushman & Wakefield, that global real estate investment could rise 11% to 1.2 trillion euros – an indication of just how much healthier the market is. However, the renewed positivity isn’t simply a return to the ‘good times’, it is apparent that the pain the recession brought in 2008 hasn’t been forgotten and we are seeing a revised formula for property that includes sustainability, collaboration and – crucially – people.

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Film: The Japanese workers who withdraw to live in Internet cafes

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Publication1Japanese workers appear to manifest some of the most extreme reactions to the challenges of modern life. Often these are related to the uncertainties of work and the fracturing of time and space associated with contemporary working life. Two of the most common characteristics of the Japanese response appears to be isolation and exclusion. Recently, the Japanese Government investigated the phenomenon of banishment rooms which some firms are alleged to have used to exclude unwanted employees. There has also been a great deal of talk about hikikomori, those people who lock themselves away from the rest of the world, estimated to be up to 1 percent of the population. Now, a new film from Shiho Fukada tells the story of two Japanese men who have taken to living in Internet cafes as they seek to find their way in life.

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What the colonisation of new domains tells us about how we work

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40-Leadenhall-StreetHeadlines about the world’s accelerating taste for skyscrapers tend to be dominated by the big numbers. This is a world in which size is important, but get behind the focus on height and you find some very interesting data about the rapid and significant changes in what these tall buildings are actually for and how this chimes with broader changes in the way we create and use workplace and shared spaces. According to the most recent annual report on the world’s skyscrapers from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, last year was a record breaker with 97 new skyscrapers completed globally. The devil here is in the detail. While the world’s tallest new building was One World Trade centre in New York, the overwhelming majority of new skyscrapers are to be found in Asia generally and China in particular.

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