How Arthur C Clarke and other writers predicted tablet computing and the iPad

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Tomorrow People iPadArthur C Clarke was one of those scientists and science fiction writers who made a pretty decent fist of getting his technological predictions right. Not only did he foretell general trends such as flexible working and the future nature of work in cities, he also got a number of details right, too. His screenplay for the Stanley Kubrick  directed 2001: A Space Odyssey featured astronauts using something uncannily like an iPad. Indeed, so uncanny was the resemblance that when Apple came to have their long-running global patent tussle with Samsung following the 2010 launch of the iPad, the film was cited by Samsung as evidence that Apple hadn’t come up with the idea of a rectangular screened device at all. The judge ruling in the US case ultimately dismissed this specific argument but did conclude that other real world examples of devices would be admissible.

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It’s not just workers in the UK who toil in the unblinking gaze of BYOD

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Unrelenting gaze of BYODAs we reported earlier, the UK’s managers now routinely put in up to between one and two extra days of work a week thanks to the technological presenteeism associated with BYOD and other practices. But of course the phenomenon is not restricted to these shores. A survey from US business software firm BMC found that the average employee applying BYOD practices now works an extra two hours each day, a third check their emails between 6 and 7 each morning, each person deals with an extra 20 emails daily, and obviously does so using his or her own devices. You can either see this as an increase in productivity, or you can see it as more evidence of our willingness to subject ourselves to the round the clock work and the unblinking eye of the smartphone. What is also apparent from the BMC report is that while companies are overwhelmingly keen on the BYOD idea – some 95 percent allow it in some form – 84 percent offer employees little or no support and 64 percent do not train staff in security issues.  Infographic below: 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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New Internet of Things consortium aims to set new global standards

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Where the wild Internet of Things areThe familiar sight of companies scrabbling to define a standard global technology format on their own terms is evident with the announcement of yet another consortium intent on becoming the de facto  standard for the Internet of Things (IoT). The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) includes heavyweights such as Samsung, Intel, Dell and Broadcom and is intent on defining ‘connectivity requirements to ensure the interoperability of the more than 30 billion devices projected to come online by 2020’. It joins the AllSeen Alliance and the Industrial Internet Consortium as one of a triumvirate of organisations, some with shared member companies, intent on cutting through the mish-mash of protocols associated with the Internet of Things. The principle will see a growing number of products and materials connected directly to the Internet and so able to exchange data. The adoption of the technology will have a profound impact in many areas of our lives, including workplace design and management.

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A third of BYOD use is invisible to the organisation, claims new report

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Invisible BYODIn spite of the ongoing effort by companies to manage the use of employees’ own technology through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, around a third of all BYOD activity is invisible to the IT department, according to new research from Ovum and Samsung. The report also claims that while over half of employees now use their own devices to work and access information, nearly two thirds of them are not subject to any formal IT policy. According to the report, the problem centres on the issue of ‘multi-screening’, whereby people decide which device is appropriate for whatever they are doing and don’t much care what the IT department thinks. In addition, nearly a quarter (22 percent) of employees use their own software and apps to work, which means that this is not a problem restricted to hardware. The upshot is that between 30-35 percent of BYOD is invisible to the organisation, although that represents a marked improvement on the situation a couple of years ago, when the proportion was around half.

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As UK extends flexible working rights, nearly half of people say they’re not equipped

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Flexible working techAs the UK extends the right to request flexible working to millions of new workers, a new and unsurprising survey from Virgin Media Business claims that nearly half (44 percent) of the country’s businesses do not equip staff properly to do their jobs away from a main office. The survey of 1,274 people already working remotely found that only 30 percent of firms supply staff with a corporate approved smartphone and a mere 16 percent offer tablet computers. Other problems highlighted in the survey include problems accessing broadband (cited by 36 percent), access to company information (32 percent)  and access to emails (21 percent). The survey also reported a mismatch between employer and employee  when it comes to perceptions of security.  While only 22 percent of staff feel it is a concern, 50 percent of them concede that it is a major issue for their employers.

IT and HR failing to work together to tackle computer data risks

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IT and HR failing to work together to tackle computer data risks The inability of employees to follow computer access policies is the greatest threat to an organization’s data security, just slightly ahead of professional hackers. Yet, as a new report reveals, the majority of IT managers still believe it is ‘easy’ to protect their organisation’s security and defences against a data breach. The research, commissioned by Courion, found that 43 percent of respondents felt they could have better relations with Human Resources in managing staff access rights, with a majority (59 percent) not feeling confident they had enough help to make dealing with insider threats easier.  This follows a recent separate study into staff attitudes to IT security that found staff could be ambivalent about how they use their access rights – for example, 39 percent share work login details with colleagues and 1 in 5 of UK professionals said they would snoop on sensitive personal data if they had access to it.

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Five things we have learned about flexible working ahead of the new right to ask regs

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flexible workingYou can’t help but notice that surveys about flexible working have been pretty thick on the ground over the last few weeks and months. The reason is that – as well as the usual ongoing fascination with the subject – the UK Government is extending the right to request regulations at the end of this month, allowing all staff to ask their employers for flexible working after six months in a job. As well as the numerous studies that firms have commissioned to explore the issue, there has been even more commentary and guidance, often from law firms. While we should always view each of these in context, adding however much salt we deem necessary to season their findings, what is always interesting when you have a media pile-in like this is to sift through it all to look for patterns, common themes and contrasts. Here are just five:

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The new issue of Work&Place is now available to view online

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Work&PlaceThe new issue of Work&Place is now available to view online. Published by Occupiers Journal in partnership with Insight it offers a wide range of thought leadership, research, commentary and case studies from the world’s foremost commentators, academics and practitioners in the world of workplace design and management. Contributors this quarter include Professor Franklin Becker of Cornell University, BBC CEO of Commercial Projects Chris Kane, Andrew Laing of AECOM, Simon Allford of architects AHMM Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, designer and workplace strategist Ziona Strelitz and Ian Ellison of Sheffield Hallam University. Work&Place offers progressive and informed commentary on some of the most pressing and cutting edge issues facing workplace designers and managers around the world today including co-working, office design, architecture, facilities management, workplace analytics, technology, flexible working, productivity and urbanisation.

Public sector procurement skills at heart of updated UK Civil Service plan

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Public sector procurementThe UK Civil Service has outlined the latest developments in the way it procures goods and services as part of its updated Civil Service Plan for 2014/15. These include a fresh take on the way the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) function operates with private sector firms. This is seen as an essential part of the new form of public sector procurement within the context of a Civil Service which ‘understands the private sector and can work confidently with them, whether purchasing goods and services through complex procurement or learning from them to enhance customer service’. The new approach to public sector procurement will be built on a range of new management skills and schemes to recruit new types of managers which will allow Government departments to share ideas and best practice and collaborate more effectively with suppliers and consultants.  The document also emphasises the expansion of digital capabilities of the public sector services as a way of working with private forms and individuals.

England’s technology firms now employ more people than California’s, claims new report

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technology firmsAs we reported last week, London and the South East of England remain the UK’s hotspots for new business start-ups and now new research claims that the region now has more people working in the vital technology and information sector than the capital of world tech, California. The report from South Mountain Economics and Bloomberg Philanthropies shows that there are nearly three quarters of a million people working for technology firms in London, the South East and East Anglia compared to 692,000 in California and that there are more firms working in financial technology in London than either Silicon Valley or New York. The report backs up new research from Oxford Economics, commissioned by the Mayor of London to coincide with London Technology Week, which claims that over the next decade, London’s digital tech sector is expected to grow at a rate of 5.1 per cent per annum, creating an additional £12 billion of economic activity and 46,000 new jobs, which in turn is driving change in the commercial property market. More →

Big data not trusted by executives if it conflicts with their beliefs and instincts

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Big dataThere were a number of themes that ran through the Workplace Strategy Summit that took place in Reading this week. One of the most talked about was Big Data and its influence on decision making. The consensus appeared to be that data should not be the sole determinant of decision making, even though it can give people the reassurance they are doing the right thing, and even a scapegoat when things don’t go as the data might suggest. So in some ways it’s reassuring to hear that executives around the world are more than happy to ignore data when it goes against their instincts and beliefs. A study from the Economist Intelligence Unit which examined the approach business leaders take to decision making, found a clear pattern in the way executives use and perceive data and analytics, especially the fact that they do not trust it if it counters their own insights and the majority will reanalyse information that conflicts with them.

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