July 6, 2015
Could this be the shape of things to come? A Chinese 3D printing firm has announced that it has plans to print a fully functioning office in Dubai (where else?). The company, WinSun, will use a 20 foot tall printer to create the components for the 2,000 sq. ft. building which will then be assembled by hand. The local developers behind the scheme claim that the technology, once perfected, will cut project delivery times by as much as 70 percent, waste by up to 60 percent and labour by between 50 and 80 percent, compared to traditional methods of office construction. WinSun has a track record of printing affordable housing in its native country, but this is the first time that it has applied its large scale 3D printing technology to an office building. It also plans to print interior architectural elements and office furniture for the building.
July 2, 2015
Mobile technology is acknowledged as a boon to flexible working, but can very easily spill into an unhealthy work/life balance. This is most in evidence around summer holiday time, as illustrated by the latest poll on the subject by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM). It surveyed more than 1,000 UK workers and managers to find that more than half of workers (61%) feel obligated to work while on leave. The ILM suggests this is the negative side effect of modern technology, as people are contactable anytime and anywhere. 64 percent read and send emails during their time off, 28 percent take business phone calls and 8 percent go into the office. Meanwhile, only 28 percent of those surveyed reported that they had had arguments with friends and family about their working on holiday, down from 37 percent two years ago, which seems to indicate that it is fast becoming the norm to be constantly switched on.
July 1, 2015
It’s now one year since the UK Government extended the right to request flexible working to nearly all UK permanent employees. Two new surveys have been published to coincide with the anniversary and gauge the effects of the legislation. Both surveys, from EY and Microsoft UK, paint somewhat mixed pictures, with uptake considerably slower than might have been expected. The study by Microsoft, one of the UK’s great champions of flexible working, found that just 22 percent of workers in SMEs have requested flexible working as a direct result of the new legislation. The report also found that over half (55 percent) of British office workers are still required to work from the office during set working hours. A similar proportion (44 percent) claim it is not possible for them to work remotely under any circumstances.
June 30, 2015
Mobile workers will account for nearly three quarters (72.3 percent) of the US workforce by 2020, thanks to the increasing affordability of smartphones and tablets and growing acceptance of corporate Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes. According to a new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the US mobile worker population will grow at a steady rate over the next five years, increasing from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million in 2020. Innovations in technology such as biometric readers, wearables, voice control, near-field communications (NFC), and augmented reality are already increasing productivity and enabling workers to work in completely new ways. In a recent IDC survey, 69.1 percent of those responsible for managing mobility within their organisation had seen a reduction in costs as a result of implementing BYOD programmes.
June 18, 2015
Despite being the first generation of workers to boast ‘native’ digital skills, so-called ‘Gen Z’ is far more conventional than previously assumed. The coming generation of 16-19 years-olds who are fast approaching the jobs market will care far more about their workplace and their employer’s ethics than Gen Y, new research from recruiter Adecco claims. The research shows that long-term security is more appealing to Gen Z than short term perks; with gym memberships (12%), free technology (16%) and time off to travel (26%) rejected in favour of qualifications and job security; at 43 percent and 41 percent, respectively. However, the research does show they have strong personal ambition and high expectations from employers, with half of those surveyed expecting a promotion within their first year of employment and the same number expecting to move on from an employer within two years.
June 16, 2015
A new report launched to coincide with London Technology Week claims that London has cemented its position as the most important tech hub in Europe and will boost the UK economy by £18bn in 2015. According to the event’s organisers, London’s technology sector is growing faster than both the overall economies of London and the whole UK and will continue to do so for the next decade. The figures show that the number of companies in London’s digital technology sector has grown by 46 percent since the launch of the Tech City programme. The sector now employs almost 200,000 people, 17 percent more than in 2010. Other research from EY claims to show London’s dominance of the European tech sector. According to EY more than 1,000 international tech investment projects located in London between 2005–2014, significantly more than the next most attractive city, Paris (381).
June 15, 2015
The shaky idea that the members of Generation Y are somehow different to the rest of the human race tends to rest on their characterisation as ‘digital natives’. However, according to a new report from US campaign organisation Change the Equation, just because Millennials have grown up with digital technology and are very attached to it doesn’t mean they are particularly tech savvy, especially when it comes to using technology to solve challenges in the workplace. The report, based on na analysis of the OECD’s Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies, found that although Millennials spend an average of 35 hours a week using digital devices, more than half of them (58 percent) are still unable to use their tech to help increase their productivity. They are still better in this regard than previous generations where 70 percent of people have low skills, but not significantly better.
June 8, 2015
Last Friday was National Work From Home Day in the UK. Each year, the TUC and organisers Work Wise seem to take this as an opportunity to analyse data about the uptake of flexible working and arrive at the wrong conclusions. This year, its analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey found that the number of people regularly working from home had increased by more than 800,000 since 2005, taking the total to over 4.2 million. These are solid enough data, but what are we to make of TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady’s conclusion that: “these figures show millions of British workers have adopted homeworking and are enjoying a better work-life balance, while saving time and money on costly commuting that benefits no-one”? There are several reasons to suggest that he’s got that wrong to a large extent.
June 8, 2015
The judges of a design competition which challenged undergraduates to share their ideas for a workplace of the future have announced the three winners. The ‘FUTURE@WORK’ competition was run by the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) and sponsored by contract furniture firm Morgan. Winners of first, second and third prize were chosen from four shortlisted entries. The designs were subject to a public vote which took place at Morgan’s showroom throughout Clerkenwell Design Week and on FIRA’s website. The winner of the first prize and the public vote is Familiar Systems, a piece of technology which aims to replace the computer screen. The device was designed by Jack Darby and Andy Lyell, is based on drone technology and incorporates a projector and a pivoted support known as a gimble which allows the user to work in a variety of locations and configurations.
June 6, 2015
In this week’s issue; employees advised to spend up to half of each day working while standing. Paul Robathan’s views on the loosening of the bonds that link work with place are backed up by a new report that says work will be something workers do, not a place to which they commute; and Mark Eltringham explains why designers and manufacturers continue to launch more sophisticated and better chairs. Plans for the tallest office building outside of London are submitted to Birmingham City Council; CIBSE, the BCIA and the Building Futures Group collaborate to ‘kick-start the future of FM in the UK; and only 3 percent of European employees say their workplace is suitable for collaborative work. Subscribe for free quarterly issues of Work&Place and for weekly news via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
June 5, 2015
Although most organisations encourage remote team work, only 3 percent of European employees say their current working environment is suitable for collaborative work such as online video conferencing, according to new research by ADP. Almost half (44%) of workers say that technology helps them understand the mission and values of their organisation, whilst 51 percent believe that technology fosters better relationships with colleagues. Yet one in four employees would like to have more quiet zones for detailed thinking, while a third (30%) would like to have access to technologies that enhance collaboration such as file sharing tools. Employees in the UK are less likely to be equipped with the latest technology; more than eight in ten (82%) French, German and Dutch employees have access to the latest business tools to allow them to do their job effectively, compared to 70 percent of UK employees.
June 3, 2015
TechNorth, the Manchester based technology hothouse devised as a regional counterbalance to London, is held in higher regard than the capital’s flagship TechCity development, according to research from recruitment firm Robert Half. The study of IT decision makers across the UK claims that the vast majority would prioritise working with Northern firms over their London counterparts, with 87 percent either ‘highly likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to place work with IT businesses in the TechNorth hub rather than those in TechCity London given the choice. The figure is 100 percent for IT leaders based in the North and to 95 percent for those in Scotland. More surprisingly, 80 percent of those based London and the South East said they would prioritise TechNorth, as did 75 percent in the South West and Wales.