Webinar explores gaps between facilities management and procurement

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facilities managementA webinar exploring the gap between the facilities management and procurement sectors concluded with a straw poll of thirty delegates which found that there was a half and half split  between those who feel that the relationship between the two disciplines is only ‘average’ while 43 per cent consider it close and that they worked together collaboratively when required. The webinar hosted last week by supplier information management firm Trade Interchange, saw senior speakers from the facilities management and procurement sectors discuss the reason for this disconnect. “There has been historic friction and frustration,” stated Jeremy Waud, chairman of service provider Incentive FM. “The two sides have often had conflicting corporate objectives which has meant they behaved very differently.”

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Government must beef up the way it manages outsourced contracts

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Facilities managementAny poorly-performing facilities management contract can result in financial and reputational loss, but where a government contract has been mismanaged, and there is a thirst for information on how the public purse has been spent, the repercussions can be major and the casualties high. The UK Government is the biggest spender on FM services, with £40 billion of outsourced contracts each year. However, in a recent report from the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office, contract management came in for stinging criticism. Evidence of overbilling, capacity issues, and poor governance and recordkeeping led to a very clear message that the Government must beef up its contract management. Procurement and contract management have been viewed traditionally as low-status in the civil service and, as a result, have been at the mercy of administration cuts and lack of investment.

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Why doesn’t the HR dept have more of a role in workplace design?

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workplace designTo design a great workplace you need to have an intimate understanding of the culture of the organisation. Culture is a result of the values of the organisation; the way people live those values and the relationships that they hold internally and externally with their marketplace and customers. The look and feel of the organisation needs to reflect the culture, just as a brand of a company reflects the product or service they provide. A good HR department will be able to distil the company culture and FM can bring it to life. We can all name examples of superb HR departments that actively engage with FM on workplace design. However, they are more the exception than the rule. If workplace design is really going to contribute to an increase in business performance then HR and FM need to work together to engage and integrate both the hard (FM) and soft (HR) services of the organisation.

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It’s no surprise a third of homeworkers choose to work in their pyjamas

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Third of homeworkers admit they work in their pyjamas When I worked for a large publishing house in the 90s, occasionally one of us would ask to work from home. My then editor always had an enlightened policy towards the home-working concept, telling people that she didn’t care if they worked in their pyjamas as long as they met their deadline. In the digital era, home working is a lot more accepted, and according to a new survey, working in your pyjamas is still in vogue, though the 10 per cent of people who admit to working naked must have huge heating bills. The study by Altodigital reflects the usual trade-off associated with flexible working, with 40 per cent of homeworkers claiming their productivity more than doubles, but motivation has a limited scope; peaking at just four hours a day, before it trails off. I’d argue that exactly the same thing happens in the office. Just because people are perceived to be ‘at work’ it’s assumed they are working. More →

Focus on the wellbeing of the occupants of the office, not that of the building

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The design of the office has a big impact on health and wellbeingIf you ask a typical corporation about their real estate strategy you will most probably hear a lot about rationalisation, minimising cost and synergy. Real estate strategy should include all these but a cost-cutting approach can be very short-sighted. Staff costs usually account to about 90 per cent of the business operating cost, while any improvement in staff’s productivity will have a stronger and more positive outcome than any cost saving on a building. The recently released World Green Building Council (WGBC) report Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices developed with the support of JLL, Lend Lease and Skanska, clearly shows that the design of an office has a strong impact on the health, wellbeing and productivity of its occupants. It describes the impact of acoustics, interior layout, look & feel, amenities, air quality, thermal comfort, location, daylight and user control on occupants. But it doesn’t stop there.

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Whatever you might hear, the death of the office is still some way off

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I was recently asked to join a roundtable about the future of office working at the offices of The Guardian newspaper. Being a simple soul I was quite confused to be asked about the ‘death of the office’ whilst sitting in an office. It seemed not only alive, but also very present. But maybe the sun is starting to set on that way of working. You can find the overview here and I’d draw your attention to the fact that according to The Guardian I had, after 2 hours, reached a point where I was ‘speaking for the whole meeting’. I’m sure I only spoke for part but it may have seemed more to others present. More →

We should welcome the Government’s evidence based approach to wellbeing

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Microscope_Nosepiece (1)The UK Government is very big on evidence based design these days and it is applying this approach in a number of new areas of policy, including wellbeing. Invariably the outcomes of its research and analysis are first refracted through a political prism on their way to becoming legislation, but the approach is very welcome and we should greet it without cynicism. At the end of October of this year The Cabinet Office announced the launch of The What Works Centre for Wellbeing including a dedicated website. The centre has the support of 17 founding partners including Public Health England, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Office for National Statistics, a number of other central government departments, the Local Government Association and the BIG Lottery Fund which means it enjoys wide ranging buy-in from the people best able to shape policy making and is chaired by Lord Gus O’Donnell.

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Five ways BYOD policies are changing the role of IT in the workplace

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BYODIf you’ve ever considered adopting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy you probably know all about its potential benefits. It lets team members work on devices they’re comfortable with. It makes work more convenient. In some cases, it can lower your technology costs. None of these ideas are new, and indeed, much has already been said about how BYOD might impact the end user. But there’s another side of the BYOD story. The other, perhaps more dramatic way that a new policy can change the workplace is through your IT employees and infrastructure. Lots of times, companies tend to underestimate the big internal shifts that precede policy changes—but planning for these shifts is a major part of developing a cohesive strategy. If you’ve already made up your mind and are ready to adopt a BYOD policy, then you should also be ready to encounter some new and unexpected variables. What role will your IT be play under this policy? What kinds of cultural challenges should you begin to expect? How will you adjust? By preparing for new obstacles and expectations, you can create an effective, adaptive BYOD game plan. Here are some of the most important things you should prepare for as you move forward with your BYOD policy.

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Worktech 14 London focuses on wellbeing, wherever we choose to work

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Worktech 14 focuses on workplace wellbeing, where ever we choose to work

The variety of ways in which technology can help us thrive at work was one of the key themes of the first day of Worktech 14, which also provided yet more evidence that the workplace is no longer based in any one place. There were some interesting ruminations on the changing values of the workplace, which included the challenges of managing mobile working and its wider effects on our wellbeing; a topic that merited a whole series of sessions, including, how office design can aide brain function; analysing the psychological effects of the ‘always on’ culture and the role of the employer in combating the rise in western obesity. Meeting room no-shows run at around 35% for most companies and in an illuminating co-presentation on estates utilisation with Condeco, Bruce Everest of Vodafone described how the mobile giant has transformed its offices into collaborative space. There were also some thought provoking sessions that peered into the future, including  the statement by a speaker from none other than Intel that ‘technology alone is not our salvation’ and a fascinating glimpse into the workplace of 2040  provided by Marie Puybaraud of Johnson Controls. More →

The leap in workplace ill health is down to mobile devices and flexible working

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flexible workingAccording to latest HSE statistics, the UK has seen a huge jump in the number of cases of workplace musculoskeletal disorders over the last two years. The data makes for depressing reading and includes a 20 percent hike in the number of cases to more than half a million, 8.3 million lost working days and a sharp increase in the proportion of work-related illness associated with the condition. Of the 535,000 new illnesses reported in the UK in 2013/14, over a third were musculoskeletal disorders; 184,000 cases. All of which begs the question what exactly is going on to cause this leap. Anecdotally we are aware of a number of factors that might indicate the smoking gun. The first is that clients are talking to us more and more about upper limb disorders rather than those related to the lower back. Pains and illnesses in the lower back are commonly (but not always) associated with poor posture while working at a desktop PC, injuries and aches to the wrists, arms, neck and shoulders are more commonly seen in people with handheld devices especially smartphones and tablets.

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Orgatec 2014 focuses on collaboration, quiet and wellbeing in the workplace

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Anna King reports from the biennial office furniture and interiors fair Orgatec, which took place recently in Cologne: Collaboration seemed to be king once again at this year’s Orgatec trade fair in Cologne, so much so that you’d be hard pressed to find a conventional workstation amongst the thousands of products on display. Even ergonomic task chairs in the traditional sense were thin on the ground. Senator’s offering was typical in its focus on collaborative work and the provision of work settings. As well as the Ad-Lib Scholar range for educational establishments, it presented the Ad-Lib Work Lounge multipurpose chair, both the work of British design studio PearsonLloyd. This upholstered model complete with headrest is available on glides or castors so it can slot into a multitude of workplace scenarios. Shown in some rich shades such as moss green and turquoise, it comes complete with a fold-down worksurface for brainstorming or other group working.

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Unethical behaviour at work may reflect a blame culture with little trust or integrity

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Unethical behaviour at work can reflect a blame culture In the same week Mind revealed that many workers are reluctant to admit to feeling stressed, comes data which shows high levels of unethical behaviour in Britain’s workplaces. And the two pieces of research are not unrelated. In a survey of over 1,600 managers by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), almost three quarters (72%) had witnessed employees lying to cover their mistakes, with the same number reporting their colleagues cut corners and delivered substandard work. A further 68% had seen people badmouthing team members behind their backs. The fault lies in workplaces that foster a blame culture, where staff are worried about owning up to mistakes. This causes undue stress and people taking a combative, rather than collaborative approach. The findings formed part of ILM’s The truth about trust’ report into trust and integrity in the UK workplace, which highlights the business benefits of high-trust high-integrity working environments. More →

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