Homeworking loses appeal as workers prefer flexible office environment

Homeworking loses appeal as workers prefer flexible office environment 0

Flexible working loungeMost workers now look for flexibility in where and how they work finds a new survey from the British Council for Offices. But this doesn’t mean homeworking; as less than a third (28 percent) of workers now say they would prefer to work from home, a figure that has dropped from 45 percent in 2013, when the research from the BCO and Savills was last conducted. Over three-quarters of respondents (77 percent) said that they currently work in a traditional office, with the majority (60 percent) choosing to work from a dedicated workstation compared to only four percent that are asked to share desks with colleagues. This desire for a dedicated desk has increased over the past three years, rising from a figure of 41 percent in 2013; but despite demand for a dedicated desk, most workplaces (70 percent) now also include a communal environment to work from, providing a space for more dynamic working.

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Workplace Trends talk + Productivity + Flexible working in London 0

Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s Newsletter Mark Eltringham with the Hitchhikers guide to the workplace – his talk at the Workplace Trends Conference; Darren Bilsborough’s concerns around commuting and productivity; and Paul Goodchild suggests that as office continues to evolve so too do the materials used within it. Why work friendships can contribute to a lack of creative diversity in the office; women could be damaging their careers by taking competition too seriously; and stress and sitting are draining productivity in the UK. The development of the fourth industrial revolution; the CIPD on increasing the uptake of flexible working in the Capital and IFMA and RICS work together to help shape a single FM career path. Download our Insight Briefing, produced in partnership with Connection, on how the boundless office can be freed from the shackles of time and place and access the latest issue of Work&Place. Visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.

What our enduring love of wooden office furniture tells us about how we work

What our enduring love of wooden office furniture tells us about how we work

Robin Day Office FurnitureAs the office continues to evolve so too do the materials used within it. While many corporate headquarters make liberal use of brushed steel, aluminium and glass, an ancient, well loved and sustainable material is becoming increasingly popular all over again. Wood never went away,  of course, but the latest ideas about office design seem to have given it a new lease of life as a material. In part this is down to an inherent love for wood, but it is also acknowledges the aesthetic and functional crossover between the office and other places where we work such as cafes, hotels and homes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the new  generation of commercial office furniture designs. In many ways they hark back to the 1950s when the British were introduced to modernism in no uncertain terms. This design movement led the British to reject dark woods and embrace new forms and materials including lighter, arguably more natural woods.

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Scientific management and the enduring love of the open plan office

Scientific management and the enduring love of the open plan office

PanopticonThere are many reasons why organisations like open plan offices. When it comes to making the business case for them however, firms prefer to talk about some more than others. So while they prefer to focus on the argument in terms of how openness can foster better lines of communication, collaboration, teamwork and team spirit, they talk rather less about the fact that the open plan is a lot cheaper than its alternatives and how they like it because it allows them to keep an eye on what people are doing. In theory, a great deal more of this surveillance now happens electronically so the need for physical presence should be less pressing, but the residual desire to see with one’s own eyes what people are doing remains. This is the instinct that constrains the uptake of flexible working and also means that there is a hierarchical divide in who gets to decide where they work.

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The difference between ‘recyclable’ and ‘recycled’ is management not material

The difference between ‘recyclable’ and ‘recycled’ is management not material

recycled coffee cupThe Times (paywall) has uncovered some pretty remarkable statistics about the way the British consume coffee. It appears that we now buy some 2.5 billion paper cups of coffee each year, primarily from the main High Street chains. That’s about 7 million cups a day. The good news for the environmentally conscious public would appear to be that all the chains ensure that each cup is fully recyclable and so prominently displays its green cred where the consumer can’t miss it. The problem is that just 1 in 400 of the cups are actually recycled with the rest going to landfill. The firms involved may include recycling bins in-store, but that accounts for just a fraction of the disposal of the cups. As The Times points out, the companies understand that consumers are more impressed by the claim that a product is 100 percent recyclable than 0.25 percent recycled. They are swayed by the material and ignorant of the management.

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Many firms only hold on to paper documents for their signatures

Many firms only hold on to paper documents for their signatures 0

Paper stackWhile many people find it convenient to use paper as a medium for note taking and idea generation, the only reason many firms hold on to paper documents is to preserve the signatures on them. That is the key finding of a new survey from knowledge management trade association AIIM.  The study found that  56 percent of executives retain signed contracts and order forms and 31 percent agree their paper documents are around only for the signatures. Consumption of paper remains high in many firms, but less and less of it is actually retained. The research is published ahead of new regulations which come into force in the EU later this year which are designed to standardise and codify the practice of retaining e-signatures on business critical documents. However, AIIM remains sceptical that the eIDAS regulations which come into force this Summer  will quickly create a standard trust based form of e-signature.

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Delivering the low-down on the sit-stand workstation phenomenon

Delivering the low-down on the sit-stand workstation phenomenon 0

Kinnarps-sit-standWhile the UK, US, Australia and other nations continue to treat them as something of a novelty, across Sweden, Norway and Finland, over 80 per cent of office workers use sit-stand desks. Offering employees a height adjustable work station is now mandatory in Denmark. However, sit-stand working is still in its infancy in the UK, with only 2 per cent of similar workers having access to variable-height workstations.  Given the huge amount of news coverage devoted to the subject of sedentary lifestyles in the last couple of years, ‘sit-stand’ and ‘active working’ have become buzz terms in UK workplace design. The ‘On Your Feet Britain’* campaign has raised awareness of the health perils risked by the many Brits who spend an average of 8.5 hours a day sitting, whether at their desk or slumped in front of the telly.  Inevitably, savvy employers will be asking themselves if they can afford to ignore the problem.

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How to compile your own Top Ten list of the World’s Coolest Offices

How to compile your own Top Ten list of the World’s Coolest Offices

facebook1The year draws to an end and making a list of what you claim are the world’s coolest offices or making claims about what makes an office cool is a great way of generating some much needed fin de siecle PR. That’s presumably why there are so many features about what constitutes a cool office. You can find them everywhere including in the Telegraph, Fortune, EsquireInc and Forbes. Or, like search engine Adzuna, you can openly boast about how much PR you’ve generated with your list and then do it again every year. If you want to tap into this meme,  the great thing about it is that you don’t even have to know anything about or even visit the offices you deem cool enough to make your top ten. You can even choose offices from other people’s lists. All you have to do is follow a number of simple and interrelated criteria to come up with a list that is pretty much the same as all the others and say the same things about them.

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Best Places to Work + Make the most of each day + Strategic role of offices

Best Places to Work + Make the most of each day + Strategic role of offices 0

Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s newsletter; Mark Eltringham on the prescience of philosopher Seneca on a time and a place to work; and a report by Sara Bean finds the boardroom increasingly views office space as a strategic asset. Glassdoor announces the best places to work for 2016; researchers reveal the phenomenon of ‘inattentional deafness’; a new Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction is announced; and Gartner says we’ll be using three technical devices by 2018. Over 100 councils to join an office-sharing scheme; Gen Z will blur the boundaries between home and work, and too much focus on standing in the sit-stand debate. Download the new issue of Work&Place and access an Insight Briefing, produced in partnership with Connection, which looks at agile working in the public sector. Visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.

Linear equations are no longer enough to determine the size of offices

In 2013, the US Census Bureau announced that the official human population of the Earth had exceeded 7 billion for the first time. This provoked people to raise concerns that were couched in Malthusian pessimism. Although people might have assumed we’d left behind this kind of flawed thinking, there is obviously something appealing about the idea that exponential population growth is unsustainable when resources increase only in arithmetical terms. We’ve got a problem but what we should have learned in the two centuries since Thomas Malthus first popularised the idea is that there are complex factors that can influence the resources we need to survive, not least in terms of greater efficiency in the way we produce them. A similar debate is also apparent in the way in which the commercial property market is able to offer the right sort of buildings for modern organisations.

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Too much focus on standing in the sit-stand debate say ergonomics experts

Too much focus on standing in the sit-stand debate say ergonomics experts 0

sit-stand-workstations-230X200Campaigners have been keen to promote the health benefits of adjustable or sit-stand workstations. However, according to the latest advice from the experts at the Ergonomics Program at Colorado State University’s Office of Risk Management and Insurance, too much focus has been placed on standing more and sitting less, when the mixture of the two postures is most important. Although sitting for too long can have detrimental effects on the body, standing for too long has its own set of detriments such as pooling of blood in the feet, increased back pain, varicose veins and even an increased risk of atherosclerosis (i.e. hardening and narrowing of the arteries). At the recent U.S. National Ergonomics Conference and Exposition, Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of life sciences at NASA, simply said to stand up often. “Standing up often, at least 30 times a day, is a powerful antidote to sitting,” she said.

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How our preconceptions can lead us to fail the office design bench test

How our preconceptions can lead us to fail the office design bench test

Logan Offices New YorkThe office furniture design scene certainly came alive in the early 1990s. New ideas and new technologies wove themselves into the grand narrative of new ways of working. Everything was possible and there was no longer one best way of doing things. In New York, Chiat Day’s offices featured touch-down desks, garish crimson floors and walls and a reception framed by a huge pair of plastic, glistening lips. In Helsinki, Sol Cleaning Services did away completely with ideas as outmoded as desks and working hours. In the UK, British Airways gave their staff olive groves and indoor streams to work alongside. And in London a small media company called Michaelides and Bednash had offices that consisted of a room furnished with a single 20m long serviced table for its 20 staff to share. Such workplaces were surely one-offs, mere footnotes to the grand narrative.

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