Sometimes health and safety failures can be a laughing matter

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Wile E CoyoteOne of the regular refrains from those involved in health and safety management is that while they aren’t killjoys, protecting people from harm is no laughing matter. Well actually yes, sometimes it is. And if the health and safety profession wants to shake off the po-faced image it claims is unjust, it needs to realise that some of the people it is trying to protect are just bloody idiots. And however much you try to make things idiot-proof, you’re unlikely to make them bloody-idiot-proof. Some people will always come up with something you haven’t thought of and a new way to put themselves in harm’s way.

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Forget Gen Y – the future workplace is multigenerational

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Old dog new tricksThere is quite possibly more guff talked about the impact of Gen Y on businesses and the workplace than any other management topic. However, it’s not only wrong to characterise the people of Generation Y as some homogeneous blob with stereotyped attitudes that set them apart from the rest of humanity, but also to miss the point that the workplace is and will remain multigenerational. In fact, according to new data from the Department of Work and Pensions, there have never been more over 50s in work in the UK than there are right now.  There are 2 million more over-50s in jobs than there were 15 years ago and they will form a third of the workforce by 2020. And they will want their own say on things just as much as the much talked about millennials.

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UK Government making slow progress on commitment to spend more with SMEs

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DollsThere is no doubt the UK Cabinet Office has been responsible for some commendable improvements in the Government’s approach to property and procurement. Yet, like most government departments it is also prone to fudging or spinning the outcomes of projects that don’t quite cover the department and its initiatives in glory. One of the sure signs of this is that the head of the department, Francis Maude, is busy doing other things on the day mixed reports and bad news come out. And sure enough, a new report from the Cabinet Office which shows that Central Government is already way off course in its aim to spend 25 percent of its budget with SMEs by 2015, has been released quietly, in August and fronted by a junior minister.

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UKIP quip that women not competitive enough for business obscures real debate

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UKIP comment on women not competitive enough for business obscures real debate

The comment by UKIP treasurer Stuart Wheeler that women are not competitive enough to merit a place in the boardroom grabbed all of the headlines from an important debate on the introduction of gender quotas on City boards. The news broke on the same day that employment body the CIPD issued a warning that businesses will continue to lose talented female workers if they don’t offer them a better work-life balance.  With research showing that around half of female managers choose not to return to work following maternity leave, how far should employers be going to retain female talent and encourage workplace diversity, and does gender equality really require a legislative stick? More →

Progress made on proposed FM bodies’ merger but membership consultation to wait

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Progress made on proposed FM bodies' merger but consultation to wait

The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) reports that merger talks with fellow FM and services related bodies, Asset Skills, the Facilities Management Association and the Cleaning and Support Services Association are progressing, but says a membership consultation must wait for the findings of the steering and working groups. As Simon Heath pointed out in his comment on the merger in May there is a sense of “crushing inevitability” that the first step in the process has been to form a steering group rather than letting members have some say in the early discussions.

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Rise in number of temporary jobs as employment rates show modest increase

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Rise in temporary jobs as employment rates show modest increase

The latest employment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that unemployment fell by just 4,000 in the three months to June. At 7.8 per cent, the overall rate remains unchanged since the previous quarter. The figures don’t reveal how many people are working on temporary, rather than full time contracts. According to TUC data, UK workers are increasingly taking involuntary temporary jobs, with almost half of the rise in employment since 2010 being in temporary work. Today’s ONS figures also show that wages grew by 1.1 per cent over the past year, which, when bonuses are included meant wages grew by 2.1 per cent,  the highest annual growth since June 2011. But UK wages still lag behind those of EU workers. More →

Proceed with caution when using social media to recruit new talent

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Why you should proceed with caution when using social media to recruit new talent

Time was, not so long ago that a job seeker could choose which aspects of their experience, interests and personality they wanted to reveal on a job application. For the employer this meant wheedling out the right candidates from a pile of written applications, then using the interview process to determine whether the applicant measured up to their requirements. Today, social media not only makes it easier for employers to reach a much wider universe of candidates – it also gives them the opportunity if they choose, to screen potential employees, and this is where legally, ethically and practically, new largely uncharted problems lie. More →

Worldwide space standards moving closer to UK norm, claims new report

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ShrinkingWorldwide office space standards are now moving closer to the norm seen in the UK according to a new survey from CoreNet Global. According to the CoreNet survey of real estate managers, the average amount of space per office worker globally has dropped to 150 sq. ft (14 sq.m.) , from 225 sq. ft. (21 sq.m.). This is still well outside the standards from the British Council for Offices Specification Guide which reported a fall to 11.8 sq. m. in 2009 and which will be revised downwards even further with the publication of the new guide which has been promised soon.  Even this figure might be seen as high and makes assumptions about the relevance of such space standards given the way some firms now work.

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The war against environmental cynicism puts an onus on suppliers to be honest

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Roller Painting House Siding GreenGreenwash is one of those terms that has gone from needing an explanation to being in common usage in the space of a few years. The reason for that is quite simply that it is the perfect description of a particular form of marketing bullshit that we all recognise. However, while a degree of scepticism about what you hear from marketers is always healthy, but I fear the point has been reached where some people find it easy to dismiss real environmental claims as greenwash. The war against cynicism can partly be helped if more manufacturers and suppliers could get better at demonstrating the validity of their claims.

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Effective recycling is about good management as much as it is materials and design

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We all like to think we are discerning about what we will and won’t put in our trolleys at the supermarket. Not any old salty, fat-saturated gloop will make the cut these days. That’s why the producers of food like to proclaim its healthiness on packaging, regardless of the nature of the product within. ‘Lower fat’ doesn’t mean low fat. Companies in other sectors follow suit. The office products market is one in which some manufacturers don’t mind a splash of green on product labels. This doesn’t do the customer or the buyer any good and can breed cynicism in the market, undermining the efforts of those suppliers who actually take a sophisticated approach to the environmental performance of their products.

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Predicting the future of the office means looking at what is happening now

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display_img_01Futurology is notoriously a mug’s game. Especially when it comes to making predictions about technology. Just ask Ken Olson, the founder of DEC who in 1977 pronounced that ‘there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home’. Or Bill Gates himself who once claimed that Microsoft ‘will never make a 32 bit operating system’. Most recently Steve Ballmer, a billionaire executive said in 2007 ‘there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.’ But mone of these retrosepctively viewed dodgy predictions should make us blind to those that we know will certainly come true, especially those based on what we know is happening in the present.

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Dual source lighting schemes illuminate the way ahead for office design

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Element790_Siemens2_MToo bright, too dull, too much glare – lighting (alongside air conditioning) is often one of the most contentious factors in a workplace. Office workers need illumination to read, write, type and interact. Yet many workplaces get it wrong and fail to consider the downsides of poor lighting, and as such staff will suffer from eye strain, headaches and postural problems, leading to sick days, not to mention lost productivity and mistakes. Eighty per cent of office workers experience at least one negative effect from poor quality lighting, according to researchers Bruskin Goldring, and 68 per cent of employees complain about the light in their offices, according to a study by the American Society of Interior Designers.

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