Revival in UK commercial property driven by high tech enclaves such as Cambridge

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Silicon FenAs we reported recently, it’s not just technology firms in London’s creaking digital enclaves that are driving recovery in the economy and commercial property markets. The UK is home to several hothouses of innovation and talent and the cluster of technology firms and related businesses in Cambridgeshire – inevitably Silicon Fen – are contributing to the highest level of commercial real estate activity in over six years, according to a survey we reported recently from property advisor Savills. The Cambridge arm of the firm is reporting that as well as new projects, schemes that were shelved during the recession are coming back online. Now in an interview in local magazine, Business Weekly, Savills has described how the national recovery is manifesting itself in one of the UK’s high tech hotspots.

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Technology means UK small business owners are unable to switch off, says report

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Can't reach off switchNearly half of the UK’s small business owners feel unable to ever get away completely from work, according to a new report from Lloyds Bank. The survey, published in the bank’s Small Business Report found that 47 percent of microbusiness owners and sole traders feel unable to completely switch off from work due to their reliance on technology to operate. More than two fifths (41 percent) work longer hours to keep up according to the report from Lloyds, which has itself recently been accused by the Government of deliberately forcing small businesses under.  According to the survey, over two thirds  (70 percent) of small businesses are concerned that their commercial health will suffer if they neglect their online presence.

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The future belongs to those who leave themselves choices of how to deal with it

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unknown-futureEverybody likes to talk and read about the future. It’s one of the reasons we see so many reports about what the ‘office of the future’ will look like. Often these attempts at workplace prognosis are overwhelmingly  rooted in the present which might betray either a degree of timidity or lack of awareness of just how far along their standard list of trends we really are. Even when such reports appear to be bang on the money, they tend to disregard one of the most important factors we need to consider when trying to get a handle on the future, which is the need to leave ourselves choices. This is important because not only will the future be stranger than we think, but stranger than we can imagine, to paraphrase J B S Haldane.

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BYOD is not a temporary problem generated by a few errant staff

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While most organisations are increasingly feeling the imperative to “do mobile,” many don’t know where to begin. Today’s employers have diverse workforces, made up of full-time staff, external contracting agencies, independent professionals, and part-time staff. In addition to the changes in the workforce, all enterprises (business, government and community) have been pushing their IT processes beyond their own organisational boundaries and it is increasingly clear they don’t have absolute control over the tools used to access their corporate systems and data. All this means, advises the experts at Gartner, bring your own device (BOYD) is not just a purchasing issue, but should be approached more broadly with the applications and strategies necessary for a changing world.

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Generation X leads the world in embracing social media recruitment

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Generation X takes the lead in embracing social media recruitment

Nearly half (44%) of respondents to a new global survey on social media and workforce have been contacted about a job via social media over the past year. All generations of workers are taking part in this trend, with surprisingly Generation X (47%) just slightly in front of Gen Y and Baby Boomers (42%) in receiving job information via social networks. However the latest Kelly Global Workforce Index finds the UK lags behind many other European Countries, with just 40 per cent of UK respondents contacted through social media about an employment opportunity in the prior year, compared with 55 per cent in Germany and Poland, and 52 per cent in Ireland. More →

What the death of the landline tells us about how we work

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TelephoneOne of the items that always used to grace the brochures of office furniture companies when I started work in that particular industry was a telephone table. For the uninitiated, this was used as a home for the office landline, shared by a team of people, who were often expected to take turns to answer when it rang. It came with a shelf for telephone directories, fax machine and a Rolodex. This might all seem quaint or, if you’re under 25, make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it was under twenty years ago. One by one the items involved in this particular workplace scenario have vanished. But like the Cheshire Cat’s smile, the telephone itself has remained. Until now, that is.

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2020 vision is a useless metaphor for far-sightedness in a number of ways

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Looking in telescope wrong wayThe year 2020 is a mere seven years away. Yet the designers of the future workplace and those who invite them to talk about it are still referring to it as if it marks the next frontier of human endeavour and as if we weren’t already up to our collective armpits in the 21st century. The idea of 20/20 vision is considered, in ophthalmological circles at least, to represent “normal” visual acuity and is dependent on the sharpness of the retinal focus within the eye and the sensitivity of the interpretative faculty of the brain. In practical terms, this means it’s about seeing and interpreting what is directly in front of us at a distance of around 6 metres. So as a metaphor for farsightedness regarding the future of work or workplaces it’s always been a poor one. And as we get closer to the eponymous year, it becomes worse day by day.

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UK’s fastest growing tech businesses named by Deloitte survey

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Infectious Media's offices

Infectious Media’s offices

There is a decided London bias in the latest Deloitte Technology Fast 50, which names the UK’s fastest growing technology companies.  Twenty of the named companies are to be found in the capital and they generate just under half of their £672 million combined revenues over the last year.  The growth rates  used to measure the success of these businesses are jaw-droppingly impressive but can also be partially meaningless for such new companies. The winner grew at a Wonga-esque percentage rate of  just under 10,000 percent and the average for all fifty firms for the past five years was a staggering 1,382 percent. According to Deloitte’s research, the UK’s fastest growing tech company is Clerkenwell based real-time advertising agency Infectious Media.

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In pictures: plans revealed for East London iCity development

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Offices at iCity

Offices at iCity

While Parliament debates the reality or otherwise of the 2012 Olympic legacy, the firms behind iCity on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London (above) have submitted detailed planning proposals and launched a new website to promote the development which they claim will become ‘a world-leading centre of innovation, education and enterprise’. The joint venture between property consultancy Delancey and datacentre operator Infinity SDC claims it will offer almost unlimited bandwidth connectivity and provide up to 400,000 sq. ft. of office space, including for digital start-ups, as well as a 250,000 sq. ft. datacentre, studio and production space and a convention centre. The plans have been drawn up Hawkins\Brown architects.

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Interview: Dave Coplin of Microsoft on Big Data, engagement and culture

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Microsoft Thames Valley 1Dave Coplin joined Microsoft in 2005, and is now its Chief Envisioning Officer, helping to envision the full potential that technology offers a modern, digital society. He is a globally recognised expert on technological issues such Cloud computing, privacy, big data, social media, open government, advertising and the consumerisation of technology and is the author of a recent book called “Business Reimagined: Why work isn’t working and what you can do about it”. He is also one of the main speakers at this year’s Worktech conference in London on 19 and 20 November. In this exclusive interview with Insight he offers his thoughts on the lack of engagement between firms and employees, the most common misunderstandings about flexible working and the challenges facing managers in IT, FM and HR.

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UK leads the world in talent, but it needs the right culture in which to thrive

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London at nightWe should never take the UK’s talent base for granted. According to a new report from Deloitte, when it comes to employment levels of people in knowledge based jobs in high skill sectors such as digital media, banking, legal services, software development, telecoms and publishing, London is comfortably the world’s leading city. The study found that London employed 1.5 million people in the 22 sectors surveyed, compared with 1.2 million in New York, 784,000 in Los Angeles, 630,000 in Hong Kong and 425,000 in Boston. The report also predicts that London will enjoy rapid growth in employment levels in these sectors over the next seven years, adding around 100,000 more people and that while a decline in employment is foreseen in financial services, this will be more than offset by strong growth in creative and media businesses.

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Time to refresh BYOD policies, as Smartglasses get set to improve workplace efficiency

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Smartglasses will bring innovation to workplace efficiency say Gartner

Employers may soon need to add wearable computers to the list of BYOD in the office. According to analysts Gardner, over the next five years, corporate adoption of Smartglasses such as Google Glass will rise to ten per cent. Although of particular relevance for companies with offsite workers, such as field service personnel and inspectors, some of the basic functions of smartglasses could help bring added efficiency across the workplace. Their widespread adoption depends heavily on the apps and services being developed, but, the analysts say, apps will emerge that do specific tasks with smartglasses, which may cause organisations to provide them for a wider range of employees, while many other workers will simply wear their personal smartglasses at work. More →

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