November 26, 2014
The release of two new sets of employment data has prompted the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to issue separate rallying calls for the greater uptake of flexible working. Responding to a YouGov survey, which found that over two-fifths (42 percent) of UK workers would not feel comfortable asking their employer for more flexible working practices, the CBI called on firms to encourage and respond positively to such requests in both their own interests and those of employees. Meanwhile, the TUC used the publication of new figures from the Office for National Statistics, which showed that under-employment remains at pre-recession levels and there remains a shortfall in the number of full-time job opportunities, to suggest that part of the solution to both problems lies in the promotion of flexible working rights.
November 25, 2014
The new Shared Parental Leave legislation comes into force next week (1 December), but according to a new report, employers are unprepared for the changes. The Workforce View 2014/15 – an annual barometer of the views and attitudes of UK workers and employers by ADP, also indicates that employers have underestimated the likely level of interest amongst employees. More than one in five (21 per cent) HR Directors admitted they are not ready for the requirements of the legislation, while 70 per cent say they predict little or no interest from employees in the first 12 months. Yet when employees were asked their views, a third (33 per cent) of 16- to 34-year-olds said they anticipate taking advantage of it within the next five years. Shared parental leave is a new right that will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed. It will be an option for parents with a child due to be born on or after 5 April 2015. more…
November 25, 2014
A new report has revealed just how important the growing business centres market is to the UK economy. According to the report from the Business Centre Association and Investment Property Databank the market is now comparable to the City of London both in terms of the number of people employed and the amount of office space it occupies. The report also outlines both the market’s robust health during the recent economic downturn and ongoing growth in response to increasing customer demand and the changing market for office space. The sector now boasts that it provides a home to some 80,000 businesses employing more than 400,000 people who occupy around 70 million sq. ft. of space including landmark developments such as the Regus No 1 Poultry centre in the City of London (above) and generate around £2 billion of income for the economy. The report, produced in conjunction with Snapdragon Consulting, found that the serviced office sector in the UK now represents around one third of the global market.
November 24, 2014
A new report into the future of work from Cisco claims –unsurprisingly – that employers are shifting their workplace policies to accommodate new demands from employees for more flexible working styles, regardless of their demographic cluster. The 2014 Cisco Connected World Technology Report also also claims that the majority of both Generation X and Y professionals already believe that smartphones and wearable devices will be the workforce’s most important communication devices by 2020 – while the laptop will maintain its place as the workplace device of choice. These devices and their attendant software and apps will drive the uptake of flexible working although sixty percent of respondents to the survey still prefer to take notes using a pen and paper. Two of the most intriguing findings of the report are that while just over half of Gen Y professionals think they are more efficient than older workers (roughly in line with the perceptions of older workers themselves) this is way out of step with the impression HR professionals, and the majority of people still believe that the future of work still lies in the office, at least some of the time.
November 24, 2014
The latest issue of the Insight weekly newsletter is now available to view online. This week; reflecting on the key messages of this year’s Worktech conference, Sara Bean and Mark Eltringham concur that while the office may be entering a new phase, we still have a need for human interaction and a place we call the workspace. Ergonomics expert Lee Jones warns that the leap in the number of cases of workplace musculoskeletal disorders is a reminder there is a world of difference between an iPad on a sofa and a PC on a workstation and Sam Robins comments on Government plans to measure wellbeing. In news; why the UK’s largest companies are calling for the greater uptake of flexible working, green building credentials become a driver of investment performance and the gender pay gap reaches its lowest point in history. If you don’t already receive a copy, please sign up using the simple subscription form in the right hand sidebar and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
November 23, 2014
If you’ve ever considered adopting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy you probably know all about its potential benefits. It lets team members work on devices they’re comfortable with. It makes work more convenient. In some cases, it can lower your technology costs. None of these ideas are new, and indeed, much has already been said about how BYOD might impact the end user. But there’s another side of the BYOD story. The other, perhaps more dramatic way that a new policy can change the workplace is through your IT employees and infrastructure. Lots of times, companies tend to underestimate the big internal shifts that precede policy changes—but planning for these shifts is a major part of developing a cohesive strategy. If you’ve already made up your mind and are ready to adopt a BYOD policy, then you should also be ready to encounter some new and unexpected variables. What role will your IT be play under this policy? What kinds of cultural challenges should you begin to expect? How will you adjust? By preparing for new obstacles and expectations, you can create an effective, adaptive BYOD game plan. Here are some of the most important things you should prepare for as you move forward with your BYOD policy.
November 21, 2014
Day two of Worktech London and affirmation that far from dying, as so many headline writers would have us believe, the office is merely entering a new phase. The underlying theme of Worktech continues to be how we find new ways of weaving together the strands of presence and connectedness formed by cities, buildings and technology. Worktech is a constant reminder that while our world may be shaped by algorithms, we still need each other and need to be with other people at least some of the time. The event is admirably hosted by long time collaborator and MC Jeremy Myerson whose knowledge and donnish charm holds things together while the real Don, founder Philip Ross, beams from the sidelines. It is now de rigeur for such events to have a poet in residence and this year’s was Matt Harvey who summed things up at the end of the day with reference to Worktech’s longstanding idea of jellybean working but who popped up in between sessions with lyrical summations including one that showed some real spunk (you had to be there).
November 20, 2014
The gender pay gap is now at its lowest point in history, with more women in work than ever before. According to new statistics by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the pay gap has reduced by 0.7 percentage points over the past year to 19.1 per cent, and for those in full-time work the gender pay gap has reduced to almost zero for those under 40. Action is being taken to tackle one of the reasons for the pay gap – career breaks, often to raise a family by extending flexible working to all employees, and from next year, tax-free childcare and shared parental leave will come into effect. However, one of the main causes of the gender pay gap is that men tend to work in better paid sectors to women so a range of measures are being introduced to help women move from low-paid, low-skilled work into higher paid, higher skilled work. This includes a new £2 million training and mentoring programme of events for women, including those working part-time and older workers, to be carried out by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. This will target women working in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), retail and hospitality management and agricultural sectors.
November 19, 2014
The variety of ways in which technology can help us thrive at work was one of the key themes of the first day of Worktech 14, which also provided yet more evidence that the workplace is no longer based in any one place. There were some interesting ruminations on the changing values of the workplace, which included the challenges of managing mobile working and its wider effects on our wellbeing; a topic that merited a whole series of sessions, including, how office design can aide brain function; analysing the psychological effects of the ‘always on’ culture and the role of the employer in combating the rise in western obesity. Meeting room no-shows run at around 35% for most companies and in an illuminating co-presentation on estates utilisation with Condeco, Bruce Everest of Vodafone described how the mobile giant has transformed its offices into collaborative space. There were also some thought provoking sessions that peered into the future, including the statement by a speaker from none other than Intel that ‘technology alone is not our salvation’ and a fascinating glimpse into the workplace of 2040 provided by Marie Puybaraud of Johnson Controls. more…
November 19, 2014
Some of the UK’s largest companies are jointly spearheading the call for the greater uptake of flexible working. On Monday, the 22 companies that make up the Agile Future Forum highlighted the role that factors such as new technology, changing demographics and globalisation are having on the business case for the adoption of agile working practices. Firms such as John Lewis, ITV, Ford, Tesco, Lloyds, BT and B&Q are championing the cause of agile working as a way of running a business that is competitive, productive, attractive to employees and able to compete on the world stage. The AFF, set up by former Lloyds chairman Sir Win Bischoff, used the event to publish its latest research to highlight the ways in which it believes the UK is one of the best-placed countries to foster flexible working in spite of a range of recalcitrant and restrictive working practices. The event cited a recent CBI survey which found that while 97 per cent of UK businesses agree that agility is key to growth, many still offer a limited range of flexible working practices.
November 18, 2014
According to latest HSE statistics, the UK has seen a huge jump in the number of cases of workplace musculoskeletal disorders over the last two years. The data makes for depressing reading and includes a 20 percent hike in the number of cases to more than half a million, 8.3 million lost working days and a sharp increase in the proportion of work-related illness associated with the condition. Of the 535,000 new illnesses reported in the UK in 2013/14, over a third were musculoskeletal disorders; 184,000 cases. All of which begs the question what exactly is going on to cause this leap. Anecdotally we are aware of a number of factors that might indicate the smoking gun. The first is that clients are talking to us more and more about upper limb disorders rather than those related to the lower back. Pains and illnesses in the lower back are commonly (but not always) associated with poor posture while working at a desktop PC, injuries and aches to the wrists, arms, neck and shoulders are more commonly seen in people with handheld devices especially smartphones and tablets.
November 17, 2014
The Italian government is considering taking a drastic step to increase the number of publicly accessible WiFi hotspots across the country. As it seeks to close the broadband deficit from which it suffers compared to other European countries, a new bill has been proposed that would make it compulsory for almost every business to provide a hotspot. Those supporting the new law see it as a way of dragging the country up to some sort of par with other EU nations. At the moment Italy has just 50,000 hotpots according to WiFi network provider iPass, compared to 13 million in France and nearly 10 million in the UK. The new law has cross party backing and would oblige all businesses occupying at least 100 square metres and employing more than two people to not only create a WiFi connection but to allow the public to access it for free without a username or password. The new law will not only cover offices, bars and restaurants but also taxis and trains. While concerns have been raised about the proposed law’s necessity and enforcement the Italian parliament will debate it in earnest in the New Year.
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