February 19, 2015
With just eight weeks to go until new rules on Shared Parental Leave (SPL) come into force, parents with babies due on or after 5 April 2015 should now give their employers 8 weeks’ notice of the pattern of leave they intend to take. The estimated 285,000 working couples a year who are expected to be eligible can start sharing up to 50 weeks of parental leave after 5 April and expectant parents need to have that all-important conversation with their employers. Acas has published a new free guide on Shared Parental Leave to help employers and employees understand how these new changes will affect them and how to manage leave requests fairly. They advise that eligible employees and their employers need to start having early discussions about the different options available so that preparing and planning the leave is as straightforward as possible.
February 19, 2015
The UK Government has announced that it is to invest £50 million in providing free Wi-Fi on a number of regional rail networks across England and Wales. The rollout will extend to Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN); Southeastern; Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales. In addition, all future bids for new rail franchises will have to include provisions for Wi-Fi infrastructure. The government has said it is focusing on those operators that currently have limited plans to invest in Wi-Fi infrastructure to give the greatest benefit to customers, which may explain the absence of long distance carriers. The plan is to offer greater access to free wi-fi on the country’s rail network by 2017. The money is equivalent to the amount Network Rail has returned to the Government for missing punctuality targets.
February 18, 2015
The complexities of the gender pay gap are uncovered in the Office for National Statistics’ most recent report into the UK Labour market. For the first time, the study breaks down pay differentials by both age and sex and shows that women now earn more than their male contemporaries until they are in their thirties when gender pay differentials suddenly, rapidly and permanently go into reverse. Women in full time employment now earn an average 81p more per hour at the age of 30, 58p more at age 34 but then 9p less at age 35. The perhaps inescapable conclusion is that the decision to have children is the key determining factor in deciding pay levels for women in full time work. Crucially, the pay gap remains and even widens throughout the remainders of women’s careers. By the age of 40, men outearn women by an average of £1.64 per hour.
February 17, 2015
Google has dramatically shaken up the world of the Internet and also changed the face of the traditional office environment forever. Nothing has ever been the same, since the ubiquitous four-colour logo first appeared on the worldwide web. Everything that Google does creates a ripple in the business world. Whether it’s giving employees 20% of their time to focus on their own projects, allowing them to form teams to peruse the idea of their choice or installing slides instead of stairs many are asking “should we also be doing that?” And it’s not surprising. All companies want to be successful and there’s no better success story around than Google. So let’s try and model ourselves on or imitate Google, right? I have lost count of how many times I’ve heard “could we have an office a bit more like Google?”
February 17, 2015
In this week’s issue; Mark Eltringham observes the shattering of any fixed idea we may once have had of a time and a place to work, and highlights the remarkable growth in the number of one person businesses; Sara Bean welcomes the publication of Kinnarps’ Trend report which offers informed views of the shape of the future workplace; Jonathan Hindle examines the true value of workplace art and Paul Goodchild suggests there may be better ways of designing offices that balance the advantages of the open plan, while mitigating its drawbacks. In news; the latest initiative between the BIFM and the CIPD, Government plans to attract the US tech sector to the UK, and new evidence of the impact of stress on the workforce. Sign up to the newsletter via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar and follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
February 13, 2015
Predicting the office the future is not an exact science, but sometimes a report comes along which does a decent job of cutting through the fog and pointing us in the right direction. The Kinnarps’ Trend Report 2015, published this week by the firm’s future labs workshops, draws out some important themes for the new diverse workplace; the borderless and liquid nature of modern working life, how co-working clusters are now a mature trend, why designers need to consider the introvert as well as the collaborative extrovert worker; wellness as the new sustainability and the fact that people will and should be allowed, to modify the environment in which they work. Five key trends were identified in the report, the impact these have on working life are examined and suggestions made on how designers can apply them in their workplace design strategies.
February 11, 2015
Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Advisor Lord Young produced a report into the key trends experienced by the UK’s small businesses over the past five years. According to the headline figures presented by the report, this is a ‘golden era’ for small businesses in the UK, with a record number of small firms in the country. The reported 5.2 million small firms represents an increase of 760,000 over the five year period covered by the study. The report concludes that the main drivers of this upsurge are the growing belief people have in their own ideas and abilities coupled with the technological wherewithal to make them a commercial reality. Lord Young also claims the Government deserves some credit for providing the business landscape for this to happen. But is it really that simple?
February 10, 2015
Over two thirds of UK professionals (69 percent) are required to work outside of their regular office hours more than they were five years ago, according to a recent research from serviced office provider Regus. The survey canvassed the opinions of over 3,000 business people in the UK on their attitudes and approaches to work. A similar proportion of workers (72 percent) say that fixed hours are no longer suited to their duties; perhaps offering some explanation as to why so much extra time is spent at the office. Three quarters (76 percent) of respondents also reported a rise in remote workers, further suggesting that the concept of 9-5 day in the office is outdated. An earlier report from Regus, published in January found that the past five years have also seen a growing concern that workers face burnout.
February 7, 2015
In this week’s issue; the UK takes a leading role in the development of the Internet of Things and the government publishes a guide to digital economy clusters; news that Europe’s commercial property market ‘sizzled’ during 2014 while a report suggests city leaders are the main obstacles to the implementation of urban infrastructure. Mark Eltringham derides more attempts to define the workplace of the future; Sara Bean warns that employers need to consider whether their workplace has an inclusive design; and as the winners of the first ever employee engagement awards are announced research reveals the cost of disengaged employees. Sign up to the newsletter via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar and follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
February 6, 2015
Over half of businesses in Scotland started in somebody’s home and over a third are still based there, according to a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and researchers from the University of Glasgow. The study of 1,000 Scottish businesses found that 39 percent are based from home and a further 19 percent began life there. The FSB claims that Scottish home based firms turn over around £20 billion a year with three quarters of them with a turnover of less than £100,000 and – perhaps unsurprisingly – only 3 percent with a turnover greater than £500,000. Two thirds also employ at least one additional member of staff. The report’s authors are now calling on Government to acknowledge the significance of these firms and develop policies to help them thrive.
February 5, 2015
The disjointed approach of the UK Government to the rollout of fast broadband is evident with the publication of a new report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. In true The Thick Of It fashion, the report appeared just as the head of the Cabinet Office Francis Maude was speaking at this week’s Slate 15 event praising the Government’s successes in the development of digital services. While progress is being made in many areas, it’s also clear that the patchy roll-out of fast rural broadband is holding back rural businesses and workers. The new report claims that people in rural areas are largely overlooked by the government’s £1bn Broadband Delivery UK project which aims to have broadband in all UK properties by 2017, including superfast broadband in 95 percent.
February 4, 2015
Research by office furniture maker Steelcase claims to show that the cost of disengaged employees is having a major impact on the performance of businesses. As a result many are now encouraging staff to spend more time in the office and working alongside colleagues as a way of re-engaging them. The report claims that in the UK only 83 percent of employees say they are disengaged at work with just 17 percent claiming to be actively engaged, compared to 30 percent in the US. This level of disengagement should be of serious concern for organisations, according to Catherine Gall, Director, Design Alliances for Steelcase.”Speaking at the HR Directors summit in Birmingham this week, she said: “The impact of employee engagement – or the lack of it – cannot be underestimated. It is a global issue and is affecting a wide range of companies.”
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