The CIPD is right to focus on the multi-generational workplace

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Multi-generational workplaceAmongst all the talk about Generation Y and its impact on the world of work, it can be easy to miss the fact that the modern workplace is not defined by one particular generation, but a number of them. The multi-generational workplace has significant implications for the way we design and manage offices. While we must avoid the more obvious stereotypes about the needs of different age groups, we must still offer spaces that can meet a wide range of cultural, physical and technological needs if we are to create productive workplaces.The latest organisation to bang the drum for the multi-generational workplace is the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. It has published new research together with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives into the experiences and attitudes of SMEs towards age diversity at work.

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Natural daylight increases wellness of office workers finds new study

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The importance of exposure to natural light to employee health and the priority architectural designs of office environments should place on natural daylight exposure for workers has been highlighted in a new study. According to researchers from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign office workers with more light exposure at the office had longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace. Employees with windows in the workplace received 173 per cent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who did not have the natural light exposure in the workplace. There also was a trend for workers in offices with windows to have more physical activity than those without windows. More →

Yet another report into the Future of Work that is really about the present

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Future of WorkJust a few days ago, a survey from Morgan Lovell and the British Council for Offices highlighted the value British workers placed on having somewhere to work, regardless of its drawbacks, privations and distractions. Now a new report from consultants PwC seems to draw the opposite conclusion. Heralded by predictably tedious headlines declaring the office to be dead or dying, The Future of Work: A Journey to 2022 claims that a quarter of the 10,000 people surveyed believe the traditional job will disappear and around a fifth claim to have already had enough of the 9 to 5 in a fixed physical space and would prefer to work in a ‘virtual place’ – which seems to mean anywhere with WiFi.  As ever, any report addressing ‘The Future of Work’ is primarily and perhaps unwittingly about the present.

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A vision of office design that is the exact opposite of all it claims to be

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Outstanding Landscape of Affordances 3The currently voguish idea that ‘sitting kills’ finds an interesting interpretation in this conceptual office design by Dutch architects RAAAF and the artist Barbra Visser. Designed with the good intentions of encouraging movement, the hellish outcome has the aesthetics of a stealth bomber crossed with an underpass in Peterborough reimagined by MC Escher, the functionality and appeal of a Snowdonian potholing weekend and is populated by 21st Century hipsters and band members of Kraftwerk. This is the Outstanding Landscape of Affordances, commissioned by the Netherlands’ Chief Government Architect and set to become a real installation in Amsterdam next year. To be fair, the blurb does describe the idea as ‘a first step towards a future in which standing at work is the new norm’, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore its catastrophic shortcomings, even as a talking point.

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We may not know what the future holds, but we can certainly be prepared for it

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unknown-futureGiven the track record of people when it comes to making predictions about the future, it’s easy to grow cynical, especially when it involves a profession as subject to the vagaries of technological and cultural change as facilities management. But while we should be wary of more fanciful and long term thinking, any natural scepticism shouldn’t blind us to those predictions that we know will largely come true, especially those based on what we know is happening already. For example, recent research carried out by Cass Business School and Henley Business School and presented in the book Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work found that two-thirds of managers believe there would be a revolution in working practices over the coming ten years. Given what we’ve seen over the past ten years, it’s impossible to argue any different. In fact the only quibble we should have with this is that it won’t take another ten years for this to happen because the process is already well underway.

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BCO study finds office remains the best place to do business

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BCO study finds office remains the best place to do businessThe challenge for the typical office is that it is meant to satisfy a broad range of individuals and a variety of working practices; which means what some may describe as a distracting open-plan layout, others would view as a busy collaborative workspace. These conflicts are highlighted in a new study by the British Council for Offices (BCO), Morgan Lovell and Hatch, which surveyed 2,000 UK office workers’ working conditions, attitudes and expectations. For example while over two thirds were critical of the distractions of the open-plan office, nine out of ten employees believe that support from colleagues enhances their wellbeing. Putting aside the open-plan debate, the study espouses the continued importance of the office as the best place to do business and comes up with three key starting points to help employers create a culture of wellbeing: care; control and collaboration. More →

Three ways in which politicians display their ignorance of the workplace

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Workplace bubbleThe recent Cabinet reshuffle in the UK Government won’t alter one fact; politicians simply don’t get it when it comes to technology, the workplace, the way people work and the needs of small businesses. Once you dismiss the paranoid idea that they DO get it but don’t care because they’re too busy looking out for The Man, you have to conclude that one of the big problems they have (this won’t go where you think) is that they don’t understand anything about technology and work, especially when it comes to emerging technology, the working lives of individuals, the needs and functions of small businesses and the fact the self-employed exist at all. These things exist outside the bubble. This is obviously a problem because they are implementing policies and making big, uninformed and anachronistic decisions about the things that shape every aspect of our lives, help to define us as people and determine how companies and individuals function. Here are just three examples.

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Book Review: Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace by Nikil Saval

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Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

Nikil Saval’s book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace pulls off that rare feat for a parochial business book of being intelligent and informed (which many are) as well as fascinating, entertaining and realistic, which is rather less commonplace. He pulls this off with plenty of references to pop culture including television series such as Will and Grace, films such as Office Space and The Apartment and, inevitably, the Dilbert cartoons. There is also a great deal of enjoyment to be had in the slightly jaded tone of his writing and brutal evisceration of the likes of Tom Peters who is singled out for special criticism. So too, his take on the very  idea of the ‘Office of the Future’ with its slides, basketball courts, pool tables and vivid colours.

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The latest Workplace Insight newsletter is available to view online

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Workplace InsightIn the latest copy of the Workplace Insight newsletter available to view online; Chris Kane argues that people and place are a company’s most valuable assets and only by developing them both in tandem will you unlock their true value. We reveal that far from improving their work/life balance, flexible working means nearly half of managers work an extra day each week; the Dutch beat the Germans in workplace happiness and productivity levels, and the UK’s public sector spends almost twice as much on outsourced services as the country’s private sector. The BBC announces plans to move more staff out of its central London offices as part of its strategy to reduce property costs, and news of a transformation in the way the US corporate real estate market approaches the environmental performance of buildings. We also include a link to the new issue of Work&Place, the journal we publish in partnership with Occupiers Journal.

6 Bevis Marks, the Gherkin’s new neighbour, is ready for tenants

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6 Bevis marks ready for tenants6 Bevis Marks – next to the Gherkin in the City of London – has been completed, with the first two tenants expected to take occupation in August. The mixed use building comprises 160,000 sqft (14,864 sqm) of office and retail space over 15 floors, and has been developed in a joint venture between AXA Real Estate and BlackRock. Located close to Liverpool Street, where the new Crossrail station is due to open in 2018, the building features a rooftop garden square, a ground floor business lounge, full on-site cyclist facilities and a private landscaped courtyard with access to the public realm surrounding the Gherkin. The development also features a 26-screen media wall in the reception, which is being used to host the Vivid Digital arts programme – a commission of young filmmaking talent supported by the developer. The building is BREEAM Excellent rated, with a range of sustainability features. More →

Smithfield mixed use development plans thrown out by Communities Secretary

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SmithfieldThe UK’s Communities secretary Eric Pickles has – in no uncertain terms – thrown out the controversial £160m plans to redevelop London’s historic Smithfield Market. The development, which would have been located in the heart of London’s creative and office design communities, was rejected with a strongly worded statement that concluded: ‘the extent of damage that the application would cause to the important heritage assets at Smithfield runs entirely counter to national and policy objectives intended to protect such assets from harm and that this would seriously undermine any economic, social or environmental benefits otherwise arising from the development, such that the proposal would not represent sustainable development.’ Objections to  the plans had been led by the Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage and enjoyed the backing of high profile public figures such as Alan Bennett, Kristin Scott Thomas and RIBA Journal editor Hugh Pearman.

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Green building design ‘goes mainstream’ in major US cities

Green building design ‘goes mainstream’ in major US cities

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Green building design

Minneapolis – the home of US green building design

It’s not just Europe that is experiencing an explosion of interest in green building design. According to a new report from CBRE and Maastricht University, the past ten years have seen a transformation in the way the US corporate real estate market approaches the environmental performance of buildings. According to the National Green Building Adoption Index for 2014, produced by CBRE there has been a remarkable increase in the  application of green building standards in the thirty most important regional commercial property markets in the US. Based on data from the US Green Building Council,  the number of office buildings which are LEED* or Energy Star** certified has surged since 2005. The proportion of LEED certified buildings in America now stands at 5 percent, up from under 0.5 percent over the course of the survey period. The total proportion  of office space which now has some form of green accreditation is just under a fifth.

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