Sea and space: the final frontiers for remote working and connectivity

Sea and space: the final frontiers for remote working and connectivity 0

Captain_on_a_bridge_-_main2Tim Peake’s recent return home from space at the end of a six month stay in the International Space Station highlighted just how essential it is for people to stay in contact with their friends, family and the rest of the world, literally from wherever they may be. Of course, back on Earth we now take it for granted that we are in a state of constant connectedness to the rest of the world. So the idea of someone being out of contact, even for brief periods of time, strikes us as odd. Perhaps that partly explains our fascination with the experiences of astronauts and other people who cannot take connectivity for granted. But it’s not just astronauts who have to consider how to enjoy the connectedness that we normally assume to be ours by right. People who work at sea face the same challenge and you could argue that it is more important for such truly remote workers to be in contact with other people and the Internet. So who fares better when it comes to achieving connectivity?

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New office market briefing remains cautious about impact of potential Brexit

New office market briefing remains cautious about impact of potential Brexit 0

the_hitchhikers_guide_to_galaxy_don_panic_desktop_1920x1080_hd-wallpaper-805696JLL has published a new briefing document to look at the possible impact of the recent Brexit vote on the UK’s office market. The report’s main claim is that the underlying economic fundamentals in the UK remain solid in comparison to previous downturns, and, while expectations are unsurprisingly being downgraded,  there is still no need for occupiers or landlords to become too concerned at the moment before the full details and effects of the UK’s exit from the EU become apparent. The document also suggests: occupiers are taking stock, so flexibility is likely to become fundamental to near term decision making. Longer-term impacts or benefits of Brexit  are still to play out; office occupier demand in London will be subdued in the near term although low vacancy levels, coupled with an increasingly diverse occupier base, should prevent a dramatic fall in rents compared to previous market corrections; hotels will benefit from weakened sterling and increase in tourism although they may see costs increase.

Lack of leadership development undermines organisational agility

Lack of leadership development undermines organisational agility 0

agilityEmployers are failing to address weaknesses in leadership development, and this is compromising their organisational agility, according to a report published by Orion Partners. The report, Agile HR: Mindset Not Methodology found that those questioned understood the importance of agility, with 67 percent of HR professionals describing it as “business critical.” Yet despite 59 percent agreeing that the people management practice that has the greatest impact on organisational agility is leadership development, none of the senior HR professionals polled rated their organisations as highly effective at building versatile leaders and 75 percent believed they were no more than moderately effective in this area. Attempts to make their companies more agile with the introduction of flexible working are not being focused correctly either, which the authors suggest is reaping the consequences of failing to sell the wider business benefits of effective HR management.

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Countries aware of but not harnessing full potential of older workers

Countries aware of but not harnessing full potential of older workers 0

older workersThe idea of a fixed retirement age looks increasingly distant in countries around the world and perhaps none more so than the US. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, based on data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, more US over 65s are working than at any time covered in the analysis, and they are working longer hours. As of May, nearly a fifth (18.8 percent) of over 65s worked full or part time, up from 12.8 percent in 2000. Intriguingly, the study also shows that this represents a significant greying of the workplace as in the overall population, 59.9 percent of Americans are currently in jobs, down from 64.4 percent in 2000. The same pattern is evident even in workers significantly older than 65. Even the over 75s are working at higher rates than they did before the 2008 recession, the only age groups about which that can be said, according to Pew, emphasising the fact that the workplace is getting older rather than younger as is commonly assumed.

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Women’s long hours working linked to alarming increases in serious illness

Women’s long hours working linked to alarming increases in serious illness 0

Long hoursWomen who put in long hours for the sake of their careers may pay a heavy price including life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. Work weeks that averaged 60 hours or more over three decades appear to triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis for women, according to new research from Ohio State University and published in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The risk begins to climb when women put in more than 40 hours and takes a decidedly bad turn above 50 hours, researchers found. Men with tough work schedules appeared to fare much better, found researchers who analysed data from interviews with almost 7,500 people who were part of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. More scheduling flexibility and on-the-job health coaching, screening and support could go a long way toward reducing the chances employees become sick or die as a result of chronic conditions, according to the report.

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Coworking continuing to drive workplace change around the world

Coworking continuing to drive workplace change around the world 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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