Coworking continuing to drive workplace change around the world

Coworking continuing to drive workplace change around the world 0

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Coworking weworkCoworking continues to be one of the main drivers of workplace change globally and is now becoming mainstream, according to new research from serviced office provider The Instant Group. According to the firm’s Flexible Workspace Review – US 2016 report, coworking grew more than 10 percent across the US over the last year and ‘combination centres’ which offer both executive suites and coworking spaces expanded by 12.9 percent as existing operators sought to take advantage of the growing demand for collaborative and agile workspace. The study claims that the occupation of flexible workspace by corporations has significantly expanded the US flexible office market over the past year, largely driven by the rise of the contingent workforce and changing workplace demands of Millennials. The total market grew by 4.3 percent and now includes 3,596 centres, the largest markets of its kind in the world with the UK following at 3,290 centres.

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Large scale study finds link between mental health and workaholism

Large scale study finds link between mental health and workaholism 0

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workaholismA new large scale study from Norwegian researchers finds that workaholism is closely associated with a range of mental diseases and psychiatric disorders. Although the link has been the subject of speculation and study, the authors claim that the new research is one of the few large scale, academic studies into the subject and so comes up with unequivocal results. The study of  16,426 Norwegian subjects in The Relationships between Workaholism and Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders found that workaholism is significantly related to psychiatric conditions such as adult ADHD, OCD, clinical anxiety and depression. The web-based survey assessed the mental health and workaholic characteristics of subjects and used statistical analysis to establish a correlation. It concludes that while disorders can be put in part down to demographic and other factors, the ‘correlations between workaholism and all psychiatric disorder symptoms were positive and significant’.

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The cocktail party effect and the false narrative of office acoustics

The cocktail party effect and the false narrative of office acoustics

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Three cocktails on the bar

Ask most people what they find most annoying about modern office life and they’re likely to tell you that it is the sounds of other people. The knee jerk response to this is often to blame the hegemony of open plan design and then find ways to reduce the amount of noise generated within the office. Like many others, this is an enduring narrative and one that many well-informed people continue to challenge. As always, the issues around office acoustics are far more complex and interesting than that and we’ve known it for a long time. Donald Broadbent was a researcher who died twenty years ago. Yet his research into cognitive psychology has never been more pertinent than it is right now as we continue to struggle with the the effects of unwelcome noise in open plan offices. Offices may have changed in the last twenty years, but human beings haven’t. This revealing programme, broadcast by the BBC, explores some of his ideas. There are no visuals so you have to use your ears.

Three day working week is ideal for the over 40s, claim researchers

Three day working week is ideal for the over 40s, claim researchers 0

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Three day working weekA new report from Australian academics suggests that workers aged over 40 perform better and have generally improved wellbeing if they enjoy a three day working week. Called Use It Too Much and Lose It? The Effect of Working Hours on Cognitive Ability, the study of 6,500 men and women was carried out by researchers at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. They gauged a range of subjective and objective factors based on data drawn from the Australian government’s Household, Income and Labour Dynamics survey as well as looking at work habits and factors such as type of employment, lifestyle and family. The researchers asked participants in the study to take part in cognitive tests the results of which suggest that the optimum working week is around 25 hours. Conversely the study suggest that the cognitive ability of those working about 60 hours a week can be lower than those who are not employed at all.

Employers’ and workers’ views on an engaging workplace differ widely

Employers’ and workers’ views on an engaging workplace differ widely 0

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Undervalued-and-disengaged-staff-plan-to-move-jobs-this-yearBusiness growth is radically redefining how employees are managed, especially as there is greater competition than ever to hire the best people from a much more demanding employee population. Yet employees report that a lack of development, outdated processes, and discontent with the role of their managers are causing them to feel dissatisfied according to Mercer’s 2016 Global Talent Trends Study, the first to take into account the perspective of both employers and employees. While 85 percent of organisations admit that their talent management programmes need an overhaul, 70 percent are confident about filling critical roles with internal candidates, 28 percent of employees say they plan to leave in the next 12 months even though they are satisfied with their current role. Managing these challenges requires support but only 4 percent of HR professionals feel that the HR function is viewed as a strategic business partner within their organisations.

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Friendly workplaces are less innovative, claims new report

Friendly workplaces are less innovative, claims new report 0

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creativityWork friendships can contribute to a lack of creative diversity in the office, according to new research from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.‘Relational capital and individual exploration: Unravelling the influence of goal alignment and knowledge acquisition’, a paper that examines the double-edged sword of friendships between colleagues, has revealed that friendly workplaces discourage employees from challenging ‘group think’. The researchers examined 150 respondents within large R&D departments of three Fortune Global 500 firms, gauging whether their accounts of personal friendships affected individual creativity, in information obtained from their colleagues. Tom Mom, along with co-authors Pepijn van Neerijnen, Patrick Reinmoeller and Ernst Verwaal, demonstrate that by aligning themselves, employees become less likely to innovate away from the established and accepted ‘norm’.

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Active building design may have positive health benefits, claims study

Active building design may have positive health benefits, claims study 0

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A study published this month in the journal Occupational Medicine suggests that buildings designed to promote active workstyles have a positive effect on the health of occupants. The research, led by Dr Lina Engelen of the University of Sydney, set out to explore whether an ‘active design’ office increased the physical activity, productivity and mindset of occupants. Although a small scale study with just 34 employees working in four locations at the University, the results suggested that people responded to the active design of the spaces by spending less time sitting and more standing and consequently reported lower levels of back pain. However, there was no improvement in productivity or physical activity. The research was based on 60 percent of people working in open plan areas, compared to just 16 percent before. Other studies have shown that sedentary work is linked to a wide range of ailments including heart disease.

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Managerial fairness key to successful business change, claims report

Managerial fairness key to successful business change, claims report 0

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fairnessManagers are underestimating the impact they have on their workforce during a period of organisational change, according to a study from EMLYON Business School authored by associate professor Tessa Melkonian. The study claims that employees are more likely to cooperate in the process of a disruptive change if the management is seen to be fair in their treatment of staff. This will increase employees’ willingness to cooperate in long-term transitions and work harder to support the process. Over 600 interviews in 10 countries and thousands of questionnaires were carried out to gauge employee satisfaction and willingness to cooperate with change following the merger of KLM and Air France. During the interviews employees revealed they were more inclined to back change because of the example set by their CEO. Leading from the front remained a strong influence two years into the transition.

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The six things all people need from their workplace

The six things all people need from their workplace 0

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Herman Miller workplaceWhether we like it or not, we all have to work for some, or more usually, most of our adult life. During this time, many of us will work in an office, which is a place that has changed immensely – not only in the last ten years or so, but almost entirely since the start of the twentieth century. The management structure and style of companies, the tools available to the workforce, and the places within the office buildings have been changing and evolving. There has been a shift from hierarchical management structures to a more diverse and organic model. The tools of work have changed from the humble typewritten letter and Bakelite telephone to 24/7 access to emails though laptops and smart phones. And finally the workplace itself has evolved from one with enclosed offices for the senior managers, or a sea of cubicles to workplaces that encourage creativity and collaboration.

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Modern office design principles favour extroverts, study claims

Modern office design principles favour extroverts, study claims 0

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Open plan officesThis week’s British Psychological Society Occupational Psychology Division annual conference in Nottingham has proved to be a fruitful hunting ground for insights into the nature of modern work and workplaces. The week culminates today with the presentation of a new study from business psychologists OPP which claims that personality has a big impact on the type of office environment people prefer to work in. Modern features such as shared space and open-plan floors appeal mainly to extroverted workers and made introverts uncomfortable. Over 300 people (71 per cent female and average age 47 years) completed an online survey about their current workplace. The participants had previously completed a personality test to ascertain their personality type. The results showed that many features of the modern office were more likely to be preferred by extroverts than by introverts.

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Two new studies that highlight the complexities of gender at work

Two new studies that highlight the complexities of gender at work 0

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gender at workThe increasingly complex nature of the career and workplace choices made by men and women and the specific challenges they face is the subject of two pieces of research presented at this week’s British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference in Nottingham. The authors of the admittedly small scale studies conclude respectively that men in what are generally considered typically female-dominated occupations tend to value the social aspects of their career more than financial rewards and that ambitious professional women would benefit from a better understanding of how to build, maintain and use their social capital to succeed in their attempts at reaching the top of their professions. Both topics have been raised before but it’s interesting to see yet more research which challenges the often overly simplistic assumptions that seem to go hand in hand with gender issues at work.

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How planning can help people detach from work in the evening

How planning can help people detach from work in the evening 0

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We all know from personal experience just how difficult it can be to switch off from work. New research published in the Journal of Organizational and Occupational Psychology suggests that the best mechanisms to cope with round the clock working include planning how to resolve incomplete work tasks. The study, conducted by Dr Brandon Smit of Ball State University suggests that the root of the problem is uncompleted tasks, especially for certain personality types. It used a questionnaire to gauge the working patterns of 103 employees pursuing 1,127 goals. It found they had more difficulty detaching from tasks that had been left uncompleted, especially when these were important. However, one group were encouraged to create plans by writing down where, when, and how they would complete these tasks. Dr Smit found they detached themselves from work more effectively than employees who did not create plans.

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