Companies failing to communicate flexible working policies

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Less than one fifth of staff are being encouraged to work flexibly, with businesses failing to reap the rewards of increased productivity and employee well-being resulting from modern work practices and technology. New research by O2 reveals that whilst staff are ready to embrace new ways of working and understand the benefits, it is employers who are holding them back. More than three quarters (77 per cent) of employers say that flexible working is actively encouraged across their organisation but less than a fifth (19 per cent) of staff say their company encourages them to work flexibly. More →

Brussels to challenge the UK in court on Green Deal VAT

Office at nightThe European Commission has confirmed intends to take the UK Government to court to force the Treasury to impose the full rate of VAT on energy-saving goods which are a key element of the flagship Green Deal energy efficiency scheme. The Green Deal is designed not only to improve the UK’s environmental performance but also boost the economy. The commission issued a statement yesterday confirming it would refer the UK to the EU Court of Justice over the practice of imposing reduced VAT rates on green goods which it claims break EU law and won’t deliver the aims of the government’s flagship Green Deal energy efficiency scheme.

“Groundbreaking” guidance on drivers for social change

Network for business sustainability

Businesses can play a key role in driving social change according to a groundbreaking new report. Whether through product labelling, supply chain management, employee volunteerism and partnerships with non-government organisations (NGOs), companies have the power to help people get active, eat healthy foods, use less energy and live more sustainable lives. Now a new guide based on a review of 123 studies from the last 20 years, released by the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) provides the evidence for any business interested in cause marketing, social innovation or responsible consumption. More →

UK employment rises but pay rates are squeezed

pay squeeze

The UK employment rate is now higher than in the United States and is well above that in the Eurozone. However, pay levels remain low, with basic pay inflation now at just 1.3 per cent. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics long-term unemployment fell by 15,000 this quarter to its lowest level for nearly a year. Nigel Meager, Director at the Institute for Employment Studies, commented: “The UK stands in contrast to developments in the Eurozone, where employment and unemployment figures are continuing to deteriorate.” More →

Survey reveals UK’s total obsession with technology

Square EyesGen Y may still be grabbing all the headlines but the full scale of the potential technological immersion of Gen Z is evident in the findings of a new report from Halifax Insurance. The Digital Home Index claims that the average child born in the UK today will spend around a quarter of their lives watching non-work related technology before the age of 80. The report also claims that three quarters of British people already claim they would struggle to get through a day without their technology. The full pervasiveness of smartphone, tablet, laptop and MP3 technology in modern British lives is apparent in some of the more jaw-dropping findings from the survey of 2,500 people.

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A third of companies make no checks on their suppliers

Broken chainThe ongoing European horsemeat scandal may be the most high profile example of what happens when companies lose sight of what is going on in their supply chain, but according to a new report from Ernst & Young, ignorance of the ethical standards and activities of suppliers in the UK is endemic. Over half of UK businesses do not carry out due diligence on their suppliers and 30 percent admit to carrying out no checks at all. In turn, this inevitably throws doubts on the ethical standards of the same companies as well as any environmental or other aspects of corporate social responsibility.   More →

London’s West End confirmed as world’s most expensive office location

C4G1T6A new report from Cushman and Wakefield has confirmed the results of an earlier study from DTZ that London’s West End is the world’s most expensive office location. According to the property services firm the West End has overtaken Hong Kong’s central business district for the first time since 2008 because of rent increases of 2 per cent fuelled by a shortage of appropriate space. According to the report occupiers now pay as much as £169 per square foot to occupy the best West End office space including rent, service charges and taxes. rents went up around the world by an average of 3 per cent, driven by rapidly growing markets, especially in South America.

Room for improvement in public sector workplace management

Portcullis HouseLast week technology company Citrix announced that the UK Government could cut its property costs by a third by adopting flexible working policies. It used a Freedom of Information request to discover how much space each public sector employee in the UK is allocated and how much it costs then applied a formula to work out how this would be affected by greater adoption of flexible working. What was interesting was not just the up-front argument you would expect from an ICT provider but also the discovery that the average employee is allocated 1.1 workstations with some enjoying 1.6. More →

Arup publishes its vision of the 2050 building

Itsailvereport218x281Arup has published a new report called It’s Alive, which aims to describe how buildings in our cities could look and function in 2050. The study has been produced by Arup’s Foresight + Innovation team and predicts that “structures will be fully integrated into the fabric of the city, responsive to changes in the external environment, and designed for continuous adaptability, according to real-time needs and demands of its users.” The report includes a series of artist’s impressions, to illustrate how building features such as photovoltaic surfaces and algae-producing biofuel pods might enable buildings to produce food, energy and resources. More →

Model new site announced for BIM aficionados

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The UK’s BIM (Building Information Modelling) Task Group is launching a Digital Plans of Work site on February 28. The latest phase in the government’s plans to make the UK the world leader in BIM, the site will enable users to keep an online version of their work. BIM is also attracting support worldwide. Today, US construction giant ZMG Construction threw its weight behind the technology saying: “New technological developments continue to revolutionize the construction and design industries — and building information modelling, or BIM, is foremost on the list of these major technological advances.” More →

Flexible working bolstering employment growth in UK

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Employment will continue to grow in the first quarter of 2013, despite stalled economic growth. According to the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)/SuccessFactors Labour Market Outlook the proportion of employers that intend to increase total staffing levels remains positive for the first quarter of 2013. Gerwyn Davies, Labour Market Adviser at the CIPD, said: “While muted pay growth is playing a part, we also see continued evidence that employers are reluctant to lay-off skilled workers.” He added: “Some employers are clearly using flexible working and reduced hours to adapt to trading conditions.” More →

Architects appointed for Kingdom City project

Kingdom CityTwo architectural practice have been appointed to carry out masterplanning for the $20 billion Kingdom City project in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Kingdom Holdings, the firm owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal has appointed US-based Calthorpe Associates as lead masterplanner for the 5.3 million square metre development, while Gulf based Godwin Austen Johnson has been named urban architect. Kingdom City is a vast mixed use development which will also be home to the world’s tallest building the Kingdom Tower.  The project will be completed in three-phases with Kingdom Tower be built in phase-one, infrastructure to be created in phase-two, and details of phase-three yet to be revealed.

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