More construction developments required to solve office supply shortage

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Construction Index warns of short supply of commercial office spaceThe development of new workplaces, shopping centres and industrial facilities is playing an increasingly important role in the UK’s economic recovery, according to the inaugural Commercial Construction Index by JLL and Glenigan. But the report raises concerns that the development of commercial space is still lagging behind the UK’s booming economy. Although the quarterly index reveals that work began on £22.7bn of commercial projects over the 12 months to June 2014, an increase of 6.6 per cent on the previous 12 months, Jon Neale, Head of JLL’s UK Research team warns that: “despite these positive trends, the volume of commercial space being started has not risen substantially since the recession and is still significantly behind the position before the crisis. There is evidence of an increasing supply shortage, particularly in the office market, and the amount of development needs to accelerate if this is not to hamper longer term recovery.” More →

RIBA announce Stirling prize shortlist for best new building 2014

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Stirling prize shortlist for best new building 2014 announced

LSE Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

The Shard in the City of London, the Library of Birmingham, the Manchester School of Art, the London School of Economics, the Everyman theatre in Liverpool and the London Aquatics Centre have been named in the shortlist for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize for the best new building. The six shortlisted buildings will now go head-to-head for architecture’s highest accolade, to be awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on 16 October 2014. The six buildings will be judged by the same criteria: their design excellence and their significance in the evolution of architecture and the built environment. Stephen Hodder, RIBA President said: “The RIBA Stirling Prize is awarded to the building that has made the biggest contribution to the evolution of architecture in a given year. Every one of the six shortlisted buildings shows what great public architecture can do: it can transcend mere construction to something quite poetic.” More →

Strong demand for Edinburgh office space likely to slow until referendum result

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Office occupier take up in Edinburgh continues to show strong demand, with total occupier take up over 470,000 sq ft, significantly ahead of the same period last year (301,000 sq ft) according to new research by JLL. Over 225,000 sq ft was transacted in Q2 (April – June), slightly less than the Q1’s figure of 245,000 sq ft. However JLL anticipates a slow down over the summer period in the run up to the Scottish referendum, a result of the holiday period and companies delaying decisions until the outcome is clear. Despite this, JLL predicts that year end take up will remain above the five and 10 year average. Activity was characterised by a greater number of smaller deals, with only 4 transactions over 10,000 sq ft.  Enquiries continue to focus on offices which are well connected into the public transport network and offer good facilities for staff.

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Climate committee exposes limited progress on energy efficiency of buildings

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Climate committee exposes limited progress on energy efficiency of buildingsIn its latest progress report to Parliament, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the statutory body set up to advise the government on meeting long-term carbon goals, says that progress has been limited in energy efficiency improvement in the commercial and industrial sectors and previous good progress in residential energy efficiency fell away with the new policy regime in 2013.While there are specific examples of organisations that have made progress, much potential remains unexploited. This is because the policy landscape is complex and has mixed incentives. It recommends that policies should be simplified to lower administrative costs while, at the same time, improving delivery. There is a need to strengthen incentives and at the same time rationalise the number of policy instruments, leading to lower administrative costs as well as better delivery. More →

Older workers’ employment champion appointed to challenge age perceptions

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Following the Government’s publication last month of Fuller Working Lives – A Framework For Action, which set out the benefits to individuals, business and the economy as a whole of people aged over 50 staying in work; economist, policy expert and consumer champion Dr Ros Altmann CBE has been appointed by the Government as its new Business Champion for Older Workers. Dr Altmann – a former director-general of Saga and independent expert on later life issues – will be tasked with making the case for older workers within the business community and challenging outdated perceptions. In the next 10 years, there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16-49 in the UK labour market but 3.7m more people aged between 50 and state pension age. The Government believes employers need to harness the benefits of taking on older staff, as too many continue to believe they can rely solely on a young workforce. More →

UK’s snail-paced broadband is failing businesses, claims FSB report

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Snail paced broadbandThe UK’s snail-paced broadband infrastructure isn’t up to the demands placed on it by 21st century businesses and there is not enough ambition to bring it up to speed with that of other nations, according to a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses.  The report found that while nearly all small business owners (94 percent) consider a reliable internet connection essential, just 15 percent are happy with their provision and a staggering 45,000 small businesses are still dependant on a dial-up connection and many more are struggling by with slow broadband speeds under 2 Megabits per second (Mbps). The FSB also claims that current Government targets of 24Mbps for 95 per cent of the population and 2Mbps for the remaining five per cent will not meet future demands and that it should commit to delivering a minimum of 10Mbps (megabits per second) for all homes and businesses by 2017 rising to 1Gbps (gigabit per second) by 2030.

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UK public sector spends twice as much on outsourcing as the private sector

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WhitehallThe UK’s public sector spends almost twice as much on outsourced services as the country’s private sector, according to research from the Information Services Group. The study claims that the total contract value of public sector outsourcing agreements over the last two years was £51 billion, compared with £30 billion for the commercial sector. In that time, a total of 585 public sector contracts were awarded. Although volumes are lower than those of the commercial sector (726 contracts), this number represents nearly a threefold increase in public sector activity since the pre-recessionary period (2006-2007). While the commercial sector has seen a shift toward smaller contracts over the past two years, the public sector has seen a reduction in the number of smaller contracts, from 46 percent of the market in 2010-2011, to 40 percent. While the number of large contracts remains steady, growth in the sector is largely driven by contracts valued at between £15 million and £30 million.

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Holland beats Germany in workplace happiness and productivity

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Dutch beat Germans in workplace productivityHolland may have been knocked out of the World Cup but they do have something to be cheerful about. New research has found the Dutch are the happiest employees in Europe, spending 57.2 per cent of their time at work happy. The Danish and Norwegians rank just behind the Dutch at 48.5 per cent and 43.9 per cent, respectively. The Swiss (36.8%), Italians (37.2%) and Germans (37.4%) are some way off. The British fall somewhere in the middle at 42.4 per cent. Happiness at Work was measured by breaking the concept into key identifiable components: positive factors such as recognition, respect, and time on task; and negative indicators such as likelihood of leaving or sick days. The study from the iOpener Institute of People and Performance, also shows a clear relationship between happiness at work and personal productivity with the Dutch beating the Germans in achieving their tasks. More →

Sharp rise in demand for staff could spark a ‘vacancy vacuum’

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Sharp rise in demand for staff could spark a 'vacancy vacuum' There was a record fall in permanent staff availability in June, according to the latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs which found the rate of contraction has accelerated to the sharpest seen in the survey’s history, which began back in October 1997. There was also a sharp deterioration in availability of temporary/contract staff, with June’s drop the greatest seen since March 1998. Amid reports of a shortage of suitable candidates, and with demand for staff increasing, permanent salaries rose during June at a survey record rate. However, as demand for staff has grown, this month saw the number of workers available to fill vacancies plummet to an all-time low, in particular across business development and sales. The latest report fuels concerns of a vacancy vacuum – and a reminder for employers that, for staff, remuneration is about much more than take home pay. More →

The UK’s most common form of flexible working? Half of managers work an extra day a week

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Flexible working?The UK’s most common yet one of the least talked about forms of flexible working has been laid bare in a new study from the Institute of Leadership and Management. It found that nearly half of managers work an extra day each week outside of their contracted hours, while an eighth put in an extra two days. More than 90 percent of managers now work outside normal office hours. The survey of 1,056 ILM members found that over three quarters (76 percent) ‘routinely’ work at home or stay late at work, over a third work at weekends and nearly half  (48 percent) regularly work through their lunch-break. The root causes of this are unsurprisingly familiar. The ILM cites technological presenteeism, with many managers ‘obsessively’ checking their phones for email, as well as pressure from employers to put in the extra hours.

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Mace to oversee Old Admiralty refurbishment for DfE occupation

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Old admiralty building refurbishmentAs a direct result of the Cabinet Office’s programme to consolidate and modernise the government estate, the Grade II listed Old Admiralty Building is to be designed and refurbished for the Department for Education (DfE).  Mace is to oversee the project, which will see the modernisation of 18,000 sq. metres of office space to provide space for over 1,600 staff, who are currently working in leasehold accommodation. Old Admiralty Building (OAB) is currently occupied by staff from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, who as part of the estate rationalisation strategy, will be consolidated into the Foreign Office’s King Charles Street Office in 2015. Refurbishment work is targeted to commence at the OAB late in 2015, following a design procurement process, including liaison with Westminster City Council planning and English Heritage, with the project due for completion in 2017. More →

Smithfield mixed use development plans thrown out by Communities Secretary

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SmithfieldThe UK’s Communities secretary Eric Pickles has – in no uncertain terms – thrown out the controversial £160m plans to redevelop London’s historic Smithfield Market. The development, which would have been located in the heart of London’s creative and office design communities, was rejected with a strongly worded statement that concluded: ‘the extent of damage that the application would cause to the important heritage assets at Smithfield runs entirely counter to national and policy objectives intended to protect such assets from harm and that this would seriously undermine any economic, social or environmental benefits otherwise arising from the development, such that the proposal would not represent sustainable development.’ Objections to  the plans had been led by the Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage and enjoyed the backing of high profile public figures such as Alan Bennett, Kristin Scott Thomas and RIBA Journal editor Hugh Pearman.

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