Office design should meet the basic human needs of workers, claims report

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office design at Google ZurichDesigners can install sleep pods, slides and play areas in an effort to create a cool office, but the problem is that for every renowned Google campus are countless stuffy offices with fluorescent lighting and cramped, crowded conditions.  When you drill right down to it office workers want those responsible for office design to meet their basic human needs; with more natural light, effective heating and air conditioning and the better use of office space. This is according to the results of a survey by Steelcase of more than 800 office workers across the UK to mark the beginning of Clerkenwell Design Week. It found that despite British workers appreciating the latest technology and high-quality office design, better lighting and more control over temperature settings would be a big step forward towards their dream office.

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Impact of BYOD is increasingly blurring lines between work and leisure

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BYOD blurring lines between work and homeThe influence of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) on working life grows, with the line between work and home life increasingly blurred. According to the annual Edenred-Ipsos Barometer of 8,800 workers across Europe two-thirds of employees report that work keeps them busy out of hours. Laptops, smartphones, tablets and other devices are making it easier for people to work from home, with around half (54 per cent) of UK organisations giving employees access to this technology. However, despite these new tools being perceived as having a positive impact on the quality of life at work, respondents were critical of the actions taken by companies: 39 per cent feel that the efforts made to introduce new ways of organising work are insufficient, 36 per cent feel the same about wellbeing at work and 28 per cent about the flexibility of the organisation of working hours.

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Design skills cited as one reason why London is the world’s best city

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Clerkenwell design weekFor the first time, London is the world’s best city for business, culture and finance, according to the latest edition of PWC’s annual Cities of Opportunity report.  And the city’s reputation as a global leader in design is cited as one of the main reasons. The index of thirty of the world’s most important cities claims that London’s sheer economic clout, technological infrastructure and its design and development skills are just a few of the factors that led to the city usurping New York for the first time. When the survey was last carried out, it was ranked third. London is ranked one of the top three best places for intellectual capital and innovation alongside Paris and San Francisco and has leapt from eighth place last year to joint first place (with Seoul) in terms of its technological readiness.

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Trust in ethical behaviour is linked to the size of the business, claims report

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Ethical behaviourThe larger the firm the less likely it is to trust its employees to behave ethically according to a new report from the Association of Accounting Technicians. The research also found that UK’s most ethical businesses are small architectural practices. According to the research, conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of AAT, only 37 per cent of SMEs trust their staff to do the right thing compared to 66 per cent of microbusinesses. The report also found that firms in the architectural sector have more faith in the ethical decision making of their employees and are more concerned about the ethical behaviour of suppliers than in any other industry. Interestingly, the report highlights the fact that, as the number of employees increases, businesses are more likely to dedicate a member of staff dedicated to fostering ethical behaviour and have a formal code of conduct.

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Loss making design and build service withdrawn by MITIE Group

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MITIE withdraws design and buildDiversified facilities management services business Mitie has announced it is no longer to provide design and build services in the energy sector and will no longer provide mechanical and electrical (M&E) services. It has announced in its preliminary results for the year to March 2014 that the withdrawal of both operations will incur substantial losses – £25.4 million and £22.1 million respectively – so it will now concentrate more closely on its core and more lucrative facilities management markets instead where it sees the ‘potential for growth and [to] meet our margin targets’.  While the firm reports that a number of design and build projects had experienced delays and cost overruns which led to substantial losses, results for the whole of MITIE group show pre-tax profit up 4.3 per cent to £113.3m with revenue up 8.2 per cent to £2.14 billion.

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Poor office design costing firms in Gulf States dear, claims report

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poor office designCompanies in the Gulf States with poor office design are losing a significant amount of money each year because of an associated loss of productivity and other factors including ergonomics and health and safety. That is according to a new survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Index exhibition organisers and office furniture manufacturer HNI. The survey puts the cost of poorly designed workplaces at as much as $70,000 (Dh257,000) per year for a large business and more than $35,000 (Dh128,500) a year for a medium-sized company in the region, according to a new study. A total of 867 senior managers across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait  were surveyed to establish the leading cause of employee accidents within the workspace, as well as the major causes of occupational health issues.

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Availability of commercial property in London lowest for six years

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Commercial Property LondonAccording to a report from CoStar News, prepared by CBRE, the availability of commercial property in Central London continued a long term fall during April to 13.76m sq ft, the lowest level since June 2008. This caused the availability of offices in central London to fall to 6.2 per cent, significantly below the 10-year average of 7.6 per cent, the agent said. Demand remains strong according to the report with the volume of office space under offer in central London up by over 65 per cent since the end of last year to reach the highest level for 13 and a half years. Under offers are currently at 4.73m sq ft, their highest point since September 2000, when under offers stood at an all-time high of 5.92m sq ft. The report claims that there are a total of seven buildings across central London with more than 100,000 sq ft currently under offer, including 10 Fenchurch Avenue (above). More information here.

Facilities managers beaten to coveted place in boardroom by a piece of software

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Roboocop

Machines and boardrooms don’t mix well

It has always been the ambition of facilities managers to take their place in the boardroom. Yet, after thirty years of trying, with only the occasional cursory glimpse of the C-Suite, it appears they have been beaten to it by a piece of software. A venture capital firm called Deep Knowledge Ventures has appointed a computer algorithm to its board of directors. This is either the shape of things to come or a gimmick*, but the software will have a vote on whether the speculators will invest in a particular business or not. The software, called Vital, won’t be making judgements on gut instinct but will take the non-visceral route of chewing through huge amounts of data before coming to a conclusion.

*It’s a gimmick.

Four million people in UK now work from home, claims TUC

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work from home

Figures released today by the TUC to mark National Work from Home Day show that more than 4 million people now regularly work from home; a rise of more than 62,000 over the course of the last year. The number of people who say they usually work from home increased by 62,000 over the course of last year to reach more than four million for the first time. The findings are from a new TUC analysis published to mark national work from home day, organised by Work Wise UK. The TUC analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of regular home-workers has risen by over a half a million since 2007 – an increase of more than 10 per cent. Millions of workers across the UK occasionally work from home too, says the TUC. More →

Employees’ time off increasingly squeezed by their job duties

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Work pressures mean over half of managers plan to work on holiday

Flexible working may be perceived as more advantageous to employees than employers, but there’s new evidence that it encourages presenteeism rather than promoting a better work/life balance. The Glassdoor UK Annual Leave Survey has discovered that 44 per cent of employees undertake some work while on holiday; 18 per cent report that a colleague and 13 per cent their boss, have contacted them about work related matters while on leave. And that’s just those who take their allocated holiday time. The average UK employee uses just 77 per cent of his or her annual leave, and only half (50%) of UK employees take their full annual leave. Given that the average annual leave in the UK is approximately 28 days per year, this means that employees could be losing 6.5 days every 12 months. More →

UK one of the top global business destinations for sales growth and profitability

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Ad Lib detailGlobal manufacturing executives rank the UK as one of the top destinations for future sales growth and profitability, according to KPMG’s latest Global Manufacturing Outlook report published this week. This places the UK ahead of Germany, India and Japan and alongside China, beaten only by the US. The report also notes that the UK is leading the world in the growth of 3D printing. The survey of 460 executives representing business with an annual turnover in excess of $5 billion reveals that the UK is ranked third in terms of those countries in which global companies expect profit growth over the next two years. The focus on new technology and materials in the report reveals that 85 percent of UK manufacturers are already moving to 3D printing to reduce their product development life cycle, as British office furniture maker Senator did in prototyping its Ad-Lib range (pictured).

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BCO office standards include guidance on provisions for cyclists for first time

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guidance on cyclists provision in BCO guide

The new edition to the British Council for Offices’ Guide to Specification, which provides guidance on industry standards for workplaces across the UK will contain guidance on provisions for cyclists for the first time. The new 2014 edition to the office standards guide due for publication later in the year, recommends one shower per ten cycle spaces and one cycle space per 100m2, reflecting the evolving face of travel to and from the office environment. Another significant change is to the recommended workplace density, which has been reviewed to take into account the ever more diverse way businesses are now using their workspaces; which includes the adoption of more flexible working patterns. The report states that: “Considering workplace density alone may overstate the demands placed on building infrastructure, or result in over provision if used as the basis for design.”

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