March 24, 2015
Japanese workers appear to manifest some of the most extreme reactions to the challenges of modern life. Often these are related to the uncertainties of work and the fracturing of time and space associated with contemporary working life. Two of the most common characteristics of the Japanese response appears to be isolation and exclusion. Recently, the Japanese Government investigated the phenomenon of banishment rooms which some firms are alleged to have used to exclude unwanted employees. There has also been a great deal of talk about hikikomori, those people who lock themselves away from the rest of the world, estimated to be up to 1 percent of the population. Now, a new film from Shiho Fukada tells the story of two Japanese men who have taken to living in Internet cafes as they seek to find their way in life.
March 23, 2015
Life on Earth has developed over the course of billions of years to attune its cycles and rhythms to the fixed routines of light and dark. Yet the modern world counters this hardwired biology in humans and radically increases our likelihood of developing a range of physiological and mental illnesses and conditions. That is the main conclusion of a new paper from Richard G. Stevens and Yong Zhu published by the Royal Society last week. The article outlines how inadequate light during the day, especially inside buildings, coupled with overexposure to artificial light in the evening not only disrupts our sleep patterns but alters our physiognomy at a metabolic, hormonal and even genetic level. The report also highlights how this can account for ‘a portion of the modern pandemics of breast and prostate cancers, obesity, diabetes and depression’.
March 20, 2015
A new study from technology market research firm Gartner predicts a near tenfold increase over the next five years in the number of devices connected through the Internet of Things. The study, Smart Cities Will Include 10 Billion Things by 2020 — Start Now to Plan, Engage and Position Offerings, claims that there are currently just over a billion connected devices worldwide but that by 202, the number will rise to 9.7 billion. The key driver for the uptake of these devices will be the new generation of smart cities which rely on sensors embedded in infrastructure to allow authorities to monitor activities such as traffic levels, availability of car parking, the use of energy in street lighting and so on. The idea is that the sensors deliver real time data to allow planners and administrators to make better decisions about resources and infrastructure.
March 19, 2015
In yesterday’s budget announcement, the Chancellor maintained the Government’s focus on regional devolution and investment in both physical and digital infrastructure. In truth, there was little surprising in the announcements, many of which had been signalled in advance and were rooted in existing policies. Some of them arrived fully formed, such as the devolution of powers related to business rates. Others, including the much talked about and overdue investment in regional infrastructure such as the cross country fast rail link, were fleshed out. Given that this is a budget with both eyes on the forthcoming general election, it’s a shame that some announcements lacked detail. Here are six of the key announcements that will affect the workplace, technology and property sectors.
March 19, 2015
Just as the adoption of digital communications technology is making the one-person per desk workstation model look outmoded, the design and layout of the typical conference room is no longer suitable for remote communications. That is one of the findings of a new survey by Steelcase which found that despite, or rather because of advances in technology, office workers are having difficulties when trying to communicate with work colleagues based elsewhere. The problem, which Steelcase has coined presence disparity can lead to an overall collaboration experience which is best described as unpleasant and taxing, with participants feeling strained physically, cognitively and emotionally. This isn’t helped by the fact that conference rooms, the most used spaces for videoconferencing, usually feature long rectangular tables designed for face to face meetings, not those to camera.
March 17, 2015
According to reports in today’s Times, two of the key commitments in this week’s budget announcement will be a commitment to the development of the UK’s technological infrastructure as well as more details on plans for the UK’s regional economies. What is telling about both is they signal an overdue recognition that the vast majority of the UK’s inhabitants don’t live in London and even those that do find it increasingly unaffordable and unattractive. Accordingly, the first communities to be targeted for superfast and ultrafast broadband will be those in the remotest parts of the country, which until now have been those most at risk of being in the slow lane of technological developments. The Times reports that until now about 1.5 million homes were due to miss out on a pledge to give 95 per cent of people access to fast internet by 2017.
March 12, 2015
More than half (55 percent) of UK employees believe they do not have access to all the technology needed to do their jobs, according to research by Fujitsu. The study, Digital Inside Out, was based in a survey of just over 1,400 UK based employees and claims to reveal a significant disconnect between the needs of a digital-savvy working population and the digital services UK employers are currently providing. According to the report, 73 percent of UK employees believe that digital is vital to the future success of their organisation. However despite this, only 45 percent of employees feel they are provided with access to the technology services and applications they need to do their job sufficiently and 29 percent state that their ability to do their job is being hindered due to poor digital services. The report argues that the mismatch can be very costly for organisations.
March 3, 2015
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a reclassification of the Internet as a public utility for the first time. It follows last month’s call from the UK Government for a similar approach to ensure that everybody has equal access to the online world. The FCC ruling specifically forbids Internet service providers creating a range of fast and slow services as a way – critics argued – of hijacking the Internet to gain monopolistic control over the digital economy and favour larger websites able to afford the higher rates. The ruling on ‘net neutrality’ has been broadly welcomed, not least by those campaigners who have argued for years that it would mean an end to the Internet as we have known it; an open platform that offers equal opportunities to all users and content providers and so fosters innovation.
February 27, 2015
A new report from IBM proves what we at Insight have been arguing for some time; Millennials have some differences to previous generations of employees, but ultimately they have more in common than most commentators acknowledge and their impact on a multi-generational workplace has been completely misrepresented. While the report, Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths, acknowledges Gen Y’s different experience of the digital world, it also demonstrates what we would suggest has been obvious all along; that unless Generation Y has arrived from another planet, it will share many of the strengths, weaknesses, drives, fears and abilities common to other demographic groupings. The study of 1,784 employees from organisations in 12 countries challenges many of the key myths about Generation Y and also lays out a number of ‘uncomfortable truths’ for employers.
February 27, 2015
Nearly three quarters of employers that offer staff the opportunity to work flexibly are failing to reorganise their workplaces to reflect the new ways of working. Research commissioned by US based AV company Barco, found that while 86 percent of organisations indicated a remote working approach was being used within their business; rather than using this policy to reduce desk space, 73 percent of organisations admitted they still had allocated desks. This is despite the fact that the top three drivers for unifying communications are to increase productivity (51%), reduce costs (44%), and increase collaboration (27%). And though the BYOD trend is continuing, with half (50%) saying personal laptops and personal tablets (45.2 %) are being used in the workplace; 82 percent of those surveyed said that laptops are still company issued.
February 25, 2015
One of the most pressing economic challenges facing the UK is producing enough qualified professionals in the key science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines. And, as a number of new reports make clear, the problem is compounded by the failure of enough women to develop careers in those areas that will define the country’s economic future. It was a point raised in a recent Government report into the UK’s digital future. Writing for the BBC earlier this month Dame Prof Ann Dowling the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering laid out the scale of the problem; by 2022 the UK will need at least 1.82 million new engineering, science and technology professionals. What is also becoming clear is that, while many women are keen to develop STEM careers, they face a series of obstacles at every step.
February 23, 2015
In this week’s issue; Maciej Markowski says most companies are not like Google, so don’t require a Google-cloned office; and Mark Eltringham explains why Charles Handy was largely correct in his pronouncements on the changing nature of work. Take up of leased office space in London hits its highest level since 2000; the UK workforce sees an increasing pay divide; and with new flexi-rights just weeks away, Acas publishes a new free guide on Shared Parental Leave. The Government publishes the latest edition of its ‘Greening Government ICT Strategy’ report; and the House of Lords’ report, Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, predicts that 35 percent of jobs over the next two decades will be automated. 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.