Workplace Strategy Summit starts this morning with stellar line up of speakers and topics

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BBC Workplace StrategyThe world’s foremost workplace conference kicks off this morning and Insight will be there to cover all of it. . Speakers include Franklin Becker, Frank Duffy, Alexi Marmot, Wim Pullen, Ian Ellison, Ziona Strelitz, Andrew Laing, Chris Kane and Simon Allford will address the most important and up to date issues relating to workplace strategy. To coincide with the event, the latest issue of Work&Place will be published before being issued to around 25,000 IFMA members worldwide and made available free online to everybody. The event builds on the  success of the first Workplace Strategy Summit held at Cornell University. Updates will be available on Twitter. 

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Workplace design and management of TMT sector aped by other firms

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Male midlifeThe publication of a report last week by the British Council for Offices highlights the wider impact of workplace design trends and commercial property arrangements  in the increasingly important Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) sector. Not least it suggests that they are having a transformational influence on the way firms in other sectors approach leases, workplace design and the changing nature of work. It is no coincidence that the TMT sector is the one most commonly associated with the employment of the much-talked-about Gen Y demographic, nor that the business practices most commonly associated with this overly-stereotyped group are those that are having the greatest influence in the way we design and manage offices.

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Office design should meet the basic human needs of workers, claims report

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office design at Google ZurichDesigners can install sleep pods, slides and play areas in an effort to create a cool office, but the problem is that for every renowned Google campus are countless stuffy offices with fluorescent lighting and cramped, crowded conditions.  When you drill right down to it office workers want those responsible for office design to meet their basic human needs; with more natural light, effective heating and air conditioning and the better use of office space. This is according to the results of a survey by Steelcase of more than 800 office workers across the UK to mark the beginning of Clerkenwell Design Week. It found that despite British workers appreciating the latest technology and high-quality office design, better lighting and more control over temperature settings would be a big step forward towards their dream office.

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Design skills cited as one reason why London is the world’s best city

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Clerkenwell design weekFor the first time, London is the world’s best city for business, culture and finance, according to the latest edition of PWC’s annual Cities of Opportunity report.  And the city’s reputation as a global leader in design is cited as one of the main reasons. The index of thirty of the world’s most important cities claims that London’s sheer economic clout, technological infrastructure and its design and development skills are just a few of the factors that led to the city usurping New York for the first time. When the survey was last carried out, it was ranked third. London is ranked one of the top three best places for intellectual capital and innovation alongside Paris and San Francisco and has leapt from eighth place last year to joint first place (with Seoul) in terms of its technological readiness.

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Poor office design costing firms in Gulf States dear, claims report

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poor office designCompanies in the Gulf States with poor office design are losing a significant amount of money each year because of an associated loss of productivity and other factors including ergonomics and health and safety. That is according to a new survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Index exhibition organisers and office furniture manufacturer HNI. The survey puts the cost of poorly designed workplaces at as much as $70,000 (Dh257,000) per year for a large business and more than $35,000 (Dh128,500) a year for a medium-sized company in the region, according to a new study. A total of 867 senior managers across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait  were surveyed to establish the leading cause of employee accidents within the workspace, as well as the major causes of occupational health issues.

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UK one of the top global business destinations for sales growth and profitability

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Ad Lib detailGlobal manufacturing executives rank the UK as one of the top destinations for future sales growth and profitability, according to KPMG’s latest Global Manufacturing Outlook report published this week. This places the UK ahead of Germany, India and Japan and alongside China, beaten only by the US. The report also notes that the UK is leading the world in the growth of 3D printing. The survey of 460 executives representing business with an annual turnover in excess of $5 billion reveals that the UK is ranked third in terms of those countries in which global companies expect profit growth over the next two years. The focus on new technology and materials in the report reveals that 85 percent of UK manufacturers are already moving to 3D printing to reduce their product development life cycle, as British office furniture maker Senator did in prototyping its Ad-Lib range (pictured).

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We need to add another dimension to meet the stress management challenge

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The Eternal TriangleAs always, any discussion of stress starts with the headline figures. Work-related stress is evidently the UK’s biggest cause of lost working days. According to the HSE’s most recent data, around 10.4 million days were lost to it in 2012, the most significant cause of absenteeism and a massive 40 per cent of all work-related illnesses. The financial cost to the UK has been estimated at £60 billion, largely due to the psychological and physical harm stress does us. The reasons for this are clear in the minds of many: the demands made on us by employers and ourselves are intolerable. Our private time is eroded, we spend too much time at work in the first place, we’re under excessive pressure to perform when we are there and as a result we’re all knackered, unfulfilled, stressed, depressed and anxious. It’s no wonder we are so keen on stress management

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BCO office standards include guidance on provisions for cyclists for first time

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guidance on cyclists provision in BCO guide

The new edition to the British Council for Offices’ Guide to Specification, which provides guidance on industry standards for workplaces across the UK will contain guidance on provisions for cyclists for the first time. The new 2014 edition to the office standards guide due for publication later in the year, recommends one shower per ten cycle spaces and one cycle space per 100m2, reflecting the evolving face of travel to and from the office environment. Another significant change is to the recommended workplace density, which has been reviewed to take into account the ever more diverse way businesses are now using their workspaces; which includes the adoption of more flexible working patterns. The report states that: “Considering workplace density alone may overstate the demands placed on building infrastructure, or result in over provision if used as the basis for design.”

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Spending on office furniture becomes a US political football

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Uncle Sam MoneyWe’ve mentioned this before but when it comes to riling those who see public sector spending as inherently wasteful, nothing gets their backs up quite so much as the buying of lightbulbs and office furniture. You can come up with your own theories on why that might be (and I hope you do), but it’s been proved yet again as Fox News and other right wing commentators and media in the US have risen up in moral indignation at the news that the Internal Revenue Service has spent $96.5 million on office furniture and refurbishment during the last five years of the Obama administration. Now of course, this is just the touchstone for griping about government spending in general and Barack Obama in particular, but the US is clearly not alone in having an issue with office furniture purchases and you have to wonder exactly why this is.

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Workplace design, Facebook likes and the need of companies to be your friend

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Facebook_like_thumbCompanies put an awful lot of time and money into getting people to like them on social media these days. While it would be easy to see the like button on Facebook as the primary conduit for this corporate neediness, but it cuts across many aspects of the ways in which companies work, including their relationships with employees and the ways in which they develop new forms of workplace design and management. This is most evident in the tech palaces which are aimed at the same digital natives that firms habitually target with their online marketing, but the need to make customers and employees friends of the business cuts across a wide range of sectors. The workplace is yet another channel of communicating chumminess, and it offers many of the same challenges as social media.

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The business of workplace design and management; new issue of Insight is now available

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Flexible workingIn the latest Insight newsletter, available to view online; Mark Eltringham lists just seven of the ways in which flexible working may have actually made our lives more rigid; expectations for rising rents as demand for commercial property reaches the highest level since before the financial crisis; ‘Walkie Talkie’ skyscraper signs up two new tenants; and the BCO names London and the South East’s best recently refurbished examples of workplace design. The idea that staff find greater job satisfaction when they work in environmentally friendly surroundings is challenged by a new study; while another report claims that wearable technology could be a boast to productivity; and the CIPD warns that rigid organisational hierarchies hamper the development of management and leadership skills within the workplace. To automatically receive our weekly newsletter, simply add your email address to the box on the home page.

Green buildings may not enhance job satisfaction and performance, claims study

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UK Green Building Council sets out future plans for sustainable futureIn March a report from the British Council for Offices appeared to show that people are happier and more productive when working in green buildings. But the idea that staff find greater job satisfaction when they work in environmentally friendly surroundings is challenged by a new study from researchers at the University of Nottingham and the Centre for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. It found that, contrary to other research, people working in LEED certified buildings appear no more satisfied with the quality of their interior design and fit-out and may enjoy no more overall level of job satisfaction than those working in less green buildings. The research was carried out by Stefano Schiavon at Berkeley and Sergio Altomonte of the University of Nottingham and published in the April edition of Building and Environment.

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