New Smart City Forum to capitalise on $400 billion global sector

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Infographic  Smarter Cities. Turning Big Data into Insight

IBM Infographic

London, Dublin, Barcelona, Boston and Bristol have something in common – they’re smart cities that use intelligent technology to monitor their urban infrastructure. The data is used in a variety of ways; to save money, minimise waste, measure water usage and manage transport routes. Solutions range from utilising IBM’s ‘Big Data’ to analyse traffic congestion on Dublin’s public transport network, to monitoring greenhouse gas emissions from Boston’s buildings. The smart cities industry has been valued at more than $400 billion globally by 2020, with the UK expected to gain a 10 per cent share ($40 billion). Now the government has announced it is to set up a new Smart Cities Forum, chaired by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts and Cities Minister Greg Clark, with representatives from cities, business, and scientists. More →

More employers than ever introduce some kind of flexible working pattern

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More employers than ever introducing some kind of flexible working patterns

Disenchantment with flexible working appears to be ongoing in the tech sector, with a recent report revealing that computing giant HP is following Yahoo’s lead by quietly discouraging staff from working from home. However, more employers than ever are attaching growing importance to making at least some changes to working patterns as a means of managing rising long-term absence levels. In the annual CIPD / Simplyhealth Absence Management, the number of employers introducing small changes, such as later start times, has increased by 20 per cent in the last year alone. Over 70 per cent of organisations report a positive impact on employee motivation and employee engagement, while a further 46 per cent are using flexible working options to support employees with mental health problems. More →

Latest Insight newsletter is now available to view online

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2.Insight_twitter_logo smIn the latest issue of the Insight newsletter, available to view online; the mammoth problem for facilities managers in focusing on all of the facets that go into defining the workplace; details on the Workplace Week event taking place on 5 November at PricewaterhouseCoopers More London building, including a discounted ticket offer for Insight readers; how the design of an office can encourage people to enjoy their working day; and outmoded Display Screen Equipment regulations do not take into account the habits of BYOD users. In other news; corruption in the construction sector is widespread finds the CIOB; increasing occupier confidence leads to the highest take up of regional office space for five years and leading European employers launch a new initiative to combat mental ill health at work.

Highest take up of regional office space for five years

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Leeds Central Sqaure plans

Increasing occupier confidence is leading to the highest take up of regional office space for five years. According to property consultants GVA’s latest quarterly review of the “big nine” regional office occupier markets, total take-up in the third quarter of 2013 was 7 per cent above the five-year quarterly average at 1,737,000 sq ft. Particularly encouraging, say the analysts, has been a recovery in markets that have been subdued for some years. Carl Potter, GVA’S National Head of Offices commented: “In general many are now gearing up for the next phase of activity, although there still remains a real prospect that a lack of appetite for new speculative development will lead in some markets very quickly to a shortage in Grade A supply.” More →

European business leaders join forces to target depression in the workplace

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Stress

Mental health campaigners’ efforts to persuade employers to combat mental ill health at work took a significant step forward today when, for the first time, senior European executives from a group of major employers, including BT Group, Barclays, and Unilever, came together to assess and address depression in the workplace. One in 10 employees in Europe is estimated to take time off work due to depression, which equates to more than 34 million people. The “Target Depression in the Workplace” initiative recommends concrete tools and resources that will enable company executives to better identify and support employees with depression, as well as promote good mental health at work. More →

Planning approval granted for major new South Bank development

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New Blackfriars developmentA 1.4 million sq ft mixed used development scheme next to Blackfriars Bridge at London’s South Bank has been granted approval by Southwark Council’s planning committee. Nine buildings, including a 48 storey tower are being planned to include 450,000 sq ft of office space, which it is promised, will almost double the number of permanent jobs in the area to over 3,700. The scheme, which also comprises 25,000 sq ft of retail space, nearly 500 residential apartments and the creation of 35,000 sq ft of new pubic open spaces, is being delivered by asset management firm Carlyle. Two existing buildings on the site, which were acquired by Carlyle along with four other nearby buildings for £671m in 2010, will be demolished according to the designs drawn up by PLP Architecture. More →

Joint survey investigates where energy use is on the FM agenda

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Joint survey investigates where energy use is on the FM agendaThe British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) and the National Energy Foundation (NEF) have announced a joint survey exploring FM professionals’ experiences and expectations of improving the use of energy in the buildings. Both organisations hope the findings, which will be made available in a report in January 2014, will identify new areas of focus and shed light on how FM professionals are tackling the gap between actual and predicted energy performance in the buildings for which they are responsible. According to Lucy Black, Chair of BIFM’s Sustainability Special Interest Group (SIG), the survey should help identify areas where barriers persist, and FM knowledge is strongest or needs further support. More →

iPosture generation warned to sit up straight or risk a lifetime of back pain

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iPosture generation warned to sit up straight or risk a lifetime of back pain

Ask anyone under twenty, “what is a VDU?” and they’ll probably think you’re referring to a “social” disease. Yet, despite the fact that tablet technology is in the ascent, the workplace procedure that is still used to help safeguard office workers from developing back, neck or other muscular skeletal problems is the workstation audit, as recommended in the HSE’s Working with VDUs guidance. Most under 25s would prefer to slump comfortably over a BYOD anyway, and as a result of these less than ergonomic habits , a massive 84 per cent of 18-24 year olds have admitted to suffering some incidence of back pain in the last 12 months, according to new research. More →

Nearly two thirds of SMEs now trust employees to work flexibly

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One of the main arguments against flexible working amongst blue chip organisations – which was well documented following the Yahoo furore earlier this year, is that it is detrimental to fostering a collaborative working culture. Amongst small and medium sized companies, the reasons against are more straightforward, in that it demands a level of trust small business managers can ill afford to bestow unwisely. Now a new survey, carried out among over 200 UK-based SME decision-makers, highlights a growing acceptance of flexible working within these businesses. Well over half (63%) of senior executives say they trust their employees to remain productive when working away from the office, the Citrix-commissioned YouGov survey has shown. More →

UK Green Building Council partners with Ecobuild to agree event programme

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UK Green Building Council partners with Ecobuild to agree sustainable event programmeThe UK Green Building Council has entered into a new long-term partnership with Ecobuild, the annual event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment. The agreement means the two organisations will work closely on the programme of events for Ecobuild to promote the business case for a greener and more sustainable built environment. UK-GBC Chief Executive Paul King, who already sits on the Ecobuild Advisory Board, said: “This partnership marks the start of a new and exciting chapter in our close relationship with Ecobuild, an event which has firmly placed sustainable construction on the UK and international agenda over the past ten years.” More →

More women on UK boards welcomed, but business leaders urged to do more

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More women on UK boards welcomed, but business leaders urged to do moreFemale representation on the UK’s top companies’ boards continues to increase according to new figures published today by the Professional Boards Forum (PBF). The statistics show that 19 per cent of directors are now female (up from 17.4% in May) and 24 per cent of board appointments since 1 March 2013 have been women. To meet the target of 25 per cent of board positions being held by women by 2015, as set out in the original report by Lord Davies published in February 2011, FTSE100 companies need to appoint 66 more female directors in the next two years. The news has been welcomed by business leaders and politicians who have resisted efforts by the EU to impose mandatory female quotas. More →

Full details of Workplace Week event are announced

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PwC More London Offices

PwC More London Offices

More details have been announced about this year’s Workplace Week, which takes place on 5 November at  PricewaterhouseCoopers More London building. Our support for the event means that Insight readers are offered discounted tickets. The event is organised by Advanced Workplace Associates in aid of Children in Need. The event includes a chance to visit some of the UK’s most innovative workplaces including RBS, Innocent Drinks and KPMG as well as convention and a series of Fringe events. Speakers include Johnny Dunford, global director of commercial property at RICS; Curtis McLean, founder of Innovation Places; Keith Saxton, director of financial services at IBM Research; Jessica Pryce-Jones, founder of the I-Opener Institute in Oxford; and Mark Sherfield, COO of global accountants BDO.

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