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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Record uptake of flexible working masks what is really changing about the way we work

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Flexible workingThis week the Office for National Statistics has released new figures which show that flexible working is at a record high in the UK. The headline figure from the ONS is that 14 percent of the UK workforce now either work at home full time (5 percent) or use their home as a base (8.9 percent). This represents a 1.3 million increase over the six years since the onset of the recession. The report shows that those working from home are typically skilled, older (half between the age of 25 and 49 with 40 percent of over 65s classed as homeworkers) and better paid than the average worker (30 percent higher than the national average). The Government is claiming it as a victory for the promotion of flexible working through legislation and the TUC as a sign of the increasingly enlightened approach of bosses in helping employees find a better work life balance. And they’re both wrong.

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Flexible working might help firms to deal with World Cup fever, claims ACAS

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Flexible working and the World CupWhile FIFA works out whether it wants to dig itself in deeper or climb out of its own hole in addressing the World Cup bribery scandal, thoughts in the business world about this Summer’s quadrennial festival of football turn, yet again, to the matter of how to deal with it all. One of the first up with suggestions this time is the UK employment conciliation service agency ACAS which thinks the answer no longer lies in turning a blind eye to what people get up to, but instead working around it. They are urging firms to allow staff to work flexibly during the World Cup so they can watch games with minimal disruption to business. ACAS last month issued new guidance on flexible working in advance of a change in the rights of workers to request flexible working at the end of June, and is now suggesting that flexible working will help to reduce absenteeism and disruption during the tournament in Brazil which begins on June 12.

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Flexible working constrained by failure to incentivise off-peak travel, claims Government report

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Could flexible working helpNew research from the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has revealed how a simple change in the price structure of rail tickets could allow increased flexible working and better manage the current rush hour crush on public transport. The study, carried out by IFF Research, claims that two thirds of organisations could increase the scope for flexible working if the price of off-peak season tickets were reduced. The report claims that, at present, employers have little or no incentive to accommodate more flexible working but that if the cost of travel was reduced outside of peak travel times so that commuters felt a significant financial benefit, then two-thirds of the organisations that took part in the study, ‘felt that they would be able to accommodate at least some staff travelling to work avoiding the centre of the peak’.

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Goodbye 9-5: flexible working practices help retain and attract staff

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flexible working connectors

Tech savvy connectors @ Oliver Preston

New ways of working are being fuelled by employees desire to take greater control of their lives. Over three-quarters (77%) of respondents in a survey by YouGov for Virgin Media Business said that remote working helps them address their work-life balance and almost four in five employees (78%) believe companies today need to offer it to attract and retain staff. As part of the research, psychologist Professor Cary Cooper reveals remote workers fall into four groups which range from ‘beginners’ to tech savvy ‘connectors.’ He stresses the need for employers to not only kit out their employees with the technology they need to work remotely, but also to educate them on flexible working best practice tips and guidelines because: “Ultimately this will help them ensure there is consistency across employees’ standard of work regardless of location, and will also ensure they remain as productive as possible.” More →

A third of UK workers would welcome a digital assistant to free up their time

A third of UK workers would welcome a digital assistant to free up their time

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A vision of the present. © Pixar Studios

In the 2008 Pixar film WALL-E, humans have fled the planet they have destroyed in an orgy of garbage-generating mass-consumerism and been reduced to morbidly obese, sedentary lumps living vicariously through screens and whose every need is catered for by the machines around them. Well, they say the best science fiction is really about the present day and sure enough, it appears that many of us are perfectly happy with the idea of suckling at the galvanised teat of a robot overlord. A new survey carried out by ClickSoftware  claims that a third of UK employees would welcome the idea of having a personal digital assistant to help them carry out everyday tasks. Over half (58 percent) hope that intelligent apps will take on at least a tenth of their workload in the future, especially those tasks considered mundane and repetitive such as administration, work scheduling and planning journeys.

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Workplace design and management of TMT sector aped by other firms

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Male midlifeThe publication of a report last week by the British Council for Offices highlights the wider impact of workplace design trends and commercial property arrangements  in the increasingly important Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) sector. Not least it suggests that they are having a transformational influence on the way firms in other sectors approach leases, workplace design and the changing nature of work. It is no coincidence that the TMT sector is the one most commonly associated with the employment of the much-talked-about Gen Y demographic, nor that the business practices most commonly associated with this overly-stereotyped group are those that are having the greatest influence in the way we design and manage offices.

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Information overload is a big problem for ‘infobese’ UK workers

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Information overloadWe all know –or should – that we have a real problem with information. We are not only deluged with the stuff, we appear increasingly willing to wallow in it voluntarily, even when we know it’s bad for us. The full extent of the challenge we face managing information is laid bare in a new report from Microsoft called ‘Defying Digital Distraction’.  The study is based on a survey carried out by YouGov which found that 55 per cent of 2,000 British office staff experience some form of information overload at work. A similar proportion feel they are distracted by information, just under half (43 per cent) experience stress as a result, a third (34 per cent) feel overwhelmed by it and 28 per cent believe it affects their personal wellbeing. The report is fronted by Dave Coplin, the Chief Envisioning Officer of Microsoft UK who we interviewed last year and coincides with the publication of Dave’s new book called The Rise of the Humans: how to outsmart the digital deluge.

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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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