Bouygues wins £27 million office fit out contract in City of London

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office fit outBouygues UK has been awarded a major new design and build contract by developers Morgan Capital Partners LLP. The award comes hot on the heels of the handover of another major office refurbishment at 71 Queen Victoria Street, which is a stone’s throw away from the new site at 45 Cannon Street, in the heart of London’s financial district. The deal will see the demolition of existing offices and the construction of a new eight-floor office building including a Category A office fit out and the addition of 13,000sqm of retail space on the ground floor. As part of the works, the entrance to Mansion House underground station will also be refurbished as it sits on the site. Bouygues UK is aiming for a BREEAM Excellent rating on the project. Demolition is already being carried out on site, with Bouygues scheduled to begin construction work in the New Year. The project is due for completion in 2016.

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Most people will continue to work in traditional offices for foreseeable future

Most people will continue to work in traditional offices for foreseeable future

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The office remains the favoured location for work worldwide but there remains an ongoing mismatch between perceptions of the productivity and performance of flexible working employees and the reality, says a major new report from Dell and Intel. According to the Global Evolving Workplace Report based on a survey of nearly 5,000 employees worldwide, the idea that remote workers are less productive is particularly apparent in developed countries. In the UK, people are two times more likely to believe that colleagues who work from home are less rather than more productive. In Germany, 75 percent of respondents saw the ability to work from home as a special privilege. Meanwhile, of those employees surveyed in developing countries, over one-third (34 percent) see home workers as more productive, compared to 32 percent who believe they get less done.

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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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Fresh completes a new installation for Teleperformance in Gateshead

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Baltic QuayInterior design and fit-out firm Fresh Workspace has completed a 30,000 sq ft turnkey project at Baltic Place Gateshead for Teleperformance, the world’s largest contact centre and outsourced customer service providers. Teleperformance, which also occupies several sites in The Watermark Gateshead, commissioned Fresh to carry out the fit-out of three floors of the landmark Baltic Quays building on South Shore Road. The project was completed within a 12 week programme of work with a fixed end-date. Works incorporated a range of mechanical and electrical alterations and additions including the provision of a stand-by generator, cooling and fresh air. The full fit-out comprised the specification and installation of partitions, doors, power and data cabling, new furniture, flooring, feature lighting and security systems.

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Iconic office chair designer to open its first UK office in Clerkenwell

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ClerkenwellThe furniture design company behind the iconic 40/4 chair [pictured] is to open its first UK HQ in London’s Clerkenwell district. HOWE, which specialises in contract, bespoke furniture design, will rent the 2,640 sq ft ground and lower ground unit at 82 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1, on a 10 year lease. Lars Bruntse, marketing manager at HOWE, commented: “HOWE develops, produces and sells dynamic design furniture solutions worldwide. London is a centre for global accounts and the UK is an extremely important market for us, so it is the right time to establish ourselves here.” Richard Reid, from Clutton’s commercial agency team said: “Clerkenwell is one of the most important design hubs in the world and we were delighted to be instructed by HOWE, designer of the iconic 40/4 chair, to find them new premises in this popular area. 82 Clerkenwell Road, with its period features, high volume space and prominent location met the requirement perfectly.”

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

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Death of the officeI 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.The conversation was interesting because it seems to be the curse of the modern world to ask bold questions and get fudged answers.Nobody actually thought that there was no role for offices any more – but people did think that more fluidity in the way we work and where we work would be beneficial (for some workers, where possible, given proper recourse to security concerns, insert more caveats if possible…).

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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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Fold7 drops in to its new Mary Poppins inspired Farringdon offices

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Fold7 has moved into new offices in Farringdon to house the expanding agency business and talent. The agency, which counts Go Compare, Gumtree, Ted Baker, Nike and Orange as its clients, has unveiled its news offices designed by Paul Crofts Studio with a Mary Poppins-inspired installation of people floating away on umbrellas and two ‘dry’ jacuzzis. On the upper level, the agency has dedicated an entire floor to an informal working area, more akin to a restaurant and bar. A wall of curiosities screens the meeting room wall, with each individual item representing a story from our history and our experiences. A mid floor raised platform with two ‘dry Jacuzzis’ provides additional break out spaces. The ‘formal’ boardroom at the Farringdon offices is fitted with a collection of cuckoo clocks to serve as a reminder that ‘it’s not the time that matters, but what you do with it that counts’ according to Fold 7 founder Ryan Newey.

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DeVere Group completes fit-out of new office in Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi

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de Vere fit-outThe Interiors Group have completed a shell and core fit-out at the new offices of financial consultancy PIC deVere Group on a floor at Tower 3 of Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi. The new office was designed to have a similar look, feel and functionality to the firm’s Dubai office and to anticipate the firm’s expansion. The brief included the provision of as many large team rooms as possible, so that each room could accommodate approximately thirty members of staff. The fit-out also incorporates a separate training room as well as print and breakout areas. Corporate colours were incorporated in this area with furniture and fittings largely in white and deVere blue introduced as the chosen finish for the Interface ‘Swing’ carpet and accent paint on elements of the interior architecture including columns and the glass and stone feature wall behind the reception desk.

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New report offers occasionally surprising vision of the future of work

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Future of WorkA new report into the future of work from Cisco claims –unsurprisingly – that employers are shifting their workplace policies to accommodate new demands from employees for more flexible working styles, regardless of their demographic cluster. The 2014 Cisco Connected World Technology Report also also claims that the majority of both Generation X and Y professionals already believe that smartphones and wearable devices will be the workforce’s most important communication devices by 2020 – while the laptop will maintain its place as the workplace device of choice. These devices and their attendant software and apps will drive the uptake of flexible working although sixty percent of respondents to the survey still prefer to take notes using a pen and paper. Two of the most intriguing findings of the report are that while just over half of Gen Y professionals think they are more efficient than older workers (roughly in line with the perceptions of older workers themselves) this is way out of step with the impression HR professionals, and the majority of people still believe that the future of work still lies in the office, at least some of the time.

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Group of UK’s major employers urges widespread uptake of flexible working

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flexible workingSome of the UK’s largest companies are jointly spearheading the call for the greater uptake of flexible working. On Monday, the 22 companies that make up the Agile Future Forum highlighted the role that factors such as new technology, changing demographics and globalisation are having on the business case for the adoption of agile working practices. Firms such as John Lewis, ITV, Ford, Tesco, Lloyds, BT and B&Q are championing the cause of agile working as a way of running a business that is competitive, productive, attractive to employees and able to compete on the world stage. The AFF, set up by former Lloyds chairman Sir Win Bischoff, used the event to publish its latest research to highlight the ways in which it believes the UK is one of the best-placed countries to foster flexible working in spite of a range of recalcitrant and restrictive working practices. The event cited a recent CBI survey which found that while 97 per cent of UK businesses agree that agility is key to growth, many still offer a limited range of flexible working practices.

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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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