Homeworkers happier but more at risk from poor ergonomics

Flexible workingAmidst all the controversy over flexible working raised by the infamous Yahoo homeworking ban comes US research revealing homeworking policies lead to happier employers and employees. 93 percent of employees surveyed by Staples Advantage agree that telecommuting programs are mutually beneficial, and more than half 53 percent of business decision makers said telecommuting leads to more productive employees. However, the survey also reveals that 48 per cent of telecommuters use furniture or technology that is not ergonomically adjusted for them, which can lead to discomfort, loss of productivity or injury. More →

Using the office treadmill to fight the flab

Office treadmill

While shopping recently for a new arm chair, I noticed the prevalence of “snuggle chairs”, marketed as wider than average chairs in which two people can sit cosily together. However, judging by some of the customers checking them out, they appeared much more suitable for use by individuals with a wider girth. You don’t have to people-watch in a furniture store or visit the town of Tamworth, which this weekend the Daily Mail branded ‘”the fattest town in Britain” to notice people are getting fatter. Could a new “office treadmill” help address the obesity problem?

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Dull workplaces can hamper creativity, claims new report

Broken light bulbA new report from London based fit-out company Overbury claims that dull and demotivating workplaces are holding back creativity in UK organisations. The study of 2,000 employees from across the UK, found that although staff consider idea generation crucial to their employer’s performance, many feel unable to work creatively together in their offices. Between half and two thirds of employees (59%) state that the development of new ideas is vital to their organisation. However, many respondents also stated that their working environment is thwarting creativity,with the majority (52%) of UK offices lacking common or social areas.

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Tipping point reached in battle between tablets and PCs

Surface proThe signs of the final showdown between the personal computer and the tablet are now all around us. It is evident in the launch of new products such as Microsoft’s Surface and the new generation of more powerful iPads which can (nearly) match the performance of Apple’s own laptops. It is also evident in the restructuring of firms like Dell, once the world’s most successful PC maker. The end result will not only be a new shape for the products on which we work but also a new shape for the places in which we work. Our postures will change and so too will the things we need to support us.  More →

Long awaited plans submitted for Smithfield development

SmithfieldThe controversial and long-awaited plans for the redevelopment of the derelict sections of Smithfield in London have been submitted by Henederson Global Investors.  While the existing meat market will remain untouched, the £160m plan for the rest of the site includes the refurbishment of the former General Market, Fish Market and Red House Buildings, as well as the original engine house.  Originally built between 1886 and 1883 by the architect of Tower Bridge Horace Jones, the historic site has been the subject of previous proposals including a controversial scheme by architects KPF which was thrown out after a 4 year battle in 2008. More →

Whatever the office of the future is, it should be there to serve people

Whatever the office of the future is, it should be there to serve people

Larkin BuildingFuturology 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’. But that shouldn’t make us blind to those predictions that we know will largely come true, not least those based on what we know is happening in the present. This is typified by research carried out by Cass Business School and Henley Business School and presented in a book called Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work. It found that two-thirds of the 360 managers it surveyed believe that there would be a revolution in working practices over the coming decade. Ninety per cent said that staff were more productive when empowered to decide when and where and how to work.

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Video: The 21st Century Office – how the BBC got it all wrong in 1969

 

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Two days ago we published a strikingly prescient report from Walter Cronkite dating from 1967 about how the world of work would look in the 21st century. Two years later the BBC was to get things hopelessly wrong, not only with its tired and misguided wannabe existentialism, but also with its vision of a future which was clearly just a slightly mechanised plasticky version of the present. That’s often the problem with futurology. It tells you more about the time in which people are making their predictions than any real vision of what is to come.

Plenty of innovation in Stockholm. Just ignore the price of beer.

Nendo Stockholm

They say first impressions count so after landing in Stockholm it was a shame that mine veered towards a personal negative rather than a positive when I discovered that my hotel room interior was purer in design than a polar bear’s coat. To a problem solving mind like mine, this didn’t add up. Surely the cold climate would venture towards a more luxurious, cosy and comforting aesthetic. My second impression inevitably arrived courtesy of a local bar. I could have sworn I’d ordered a 40cl beer rather than the bottle of Bolly the bill suggested. So with those problems dismissed from my mind, it was heartening that the rest of the trip to the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair was roundly positive.

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What Ronald McDonald can teach us about office design

McDonalds1As the UK continues to agonise over the potentially equine provenance of many of its beef products, one firm that has managed to stay above it all is McDonald’s. While rivals Burger King quickly became embroiled in the scandal after traces of horsemeat were found in its Burgers, McDonalds ramped up its claims in the national media that it only uses 100 per cent beef. McDonald’s has had a pretty good couple of years, and not all of it is down to the food. During 2012, the company spent $1.45bn this year on giving 2,400 stores a makeover. It claims that it has now revamped 90 per cent of its UK stores. More →

Improving desk habits can reduce office workers’ back pain

back pain

Office workers are most likely to suffer from back pain than manual workers due to poor posture at their desks.  In a survey of The British Chiropractic Association’s members, 56% of chiropractors said office workers are most vulnerable to back pain and that sedentary PC posture causes more back problems than excessive lifting and carrying. Now new advice from workplace equipment provider Slingsby says employers can help to prevent a lot of the problems by encouraging staff to improve their desk habits. More →

Sit-stand chair on Ergonomics Design Award shortlist

muvman shortlisted

A sit-stand seat allowing workers more freedom of movement is amongst the designs shortlisted for the fourth IEHF Ergonomics Design Award. Other shortlisted entries include, a new type of protective hood, a mobile app and a 3D foot scanner. Said John Wood Executive Chairman of CCD Design and Ergonomics and chair of judges: “We’re very pleased to see the extensive range of projects that have again been entered for the award this year; it’s a sign of the continuing and growing recognition of the importance of ergonomics in society and business today.” More →

Gulf construction and fit-out continues to boom, claims report

Abu DhabiThe total value of building projects in Gulf Cooperation Council states will exceed $80 billion this year according to a new report from dmg::events* in conjunction with consultancy Ventures Middle East. The survey concludes that this year will see a near one fifth increase in the overall value of projects up from nearly $69 billion in 2012 to $81.6 billion in 2013. Meanwhile the interlinked market for interior contracting and fit-out in 2012 was valued by the report at $7.86bn – a 56 per centincrease on 2011. The UAE continues as the the region with the largest interiors spend ($2.83bn), followed by Saudi Arabia ($2.6bn) and Qatar ($1.49bn). More →