January 19, 2015
One of the particular and often unspoken issues that shadows in any debate about flexible working is what we mean by the term. We’ve been talking about new ways of working for a good quarter of a century now and what is generally understood about the practice has evolved considerably. The very idea was conceived at the birth of the new online era so is inextricably tied up with the Internet and new technology. That is why it first became a significant business issue in the mid 1990s as we felt the pre-shocks of the coming seismic disruption of the Internet. Laptops became commercially viable for the first time in the early 1990s and the UK’s first text message was sent in 1992. Authors such as Charles Handy were popularising the notion that our entire relationship with work was about to change.
January 13, 2015
Leeds is the latest UK city to announce the roll-out of free city-wide Wi-Fi. Although full details are yet to be confirmed, the contract with telecommunications firm aql will initially target areas of Leeds with poor levels of connectivity. Leeds City Council has already installed free Wi-Fi in over 100 council buildings including libraries, museums and leisure centres as part of the Government’s Super Connected Cities programme which was announced in 2012 to invest £100 million in the provision of ultrafast broadband in ten of the country’s major cities. In November of last year, Derry also announced the rollout of city-wide Wi-Fi as part of a plan to transform the local economy.
January 9, 2015
Although we would normally offer the findings of a survey without comment, preferring readers to add their own pinch of salt, it’s sometimes interesting to question the way research is presented. This week a study by O2 claimed that in the six months since nearly all full time UK workers were granted the right to request flexible working, 23 percent of staff have taken advantage of the option. While there is nothing unusual in a mobile tech firm producing a survey about flexible working, what is interesting is that they have chosen to present this as ‘only 23 percent’ and many in the press have gone along with it. Now, unless I’ve missed something, isn’t it actually remarkable that nearly a quarter of UK employees have requested flexible working in a six month period?
January 8, 2015
Described as ‘key to growth in the sector’ by chief construction adviser, Peter Hansford and increasingly recognised as a much more collaborative and efficient way of working, Building Information Modelling (BIM) continues to gather supporters from across the industry, yet there is a percentage of people who are still keeping their heads down and hoping it will all just go away. Maybe it’s the required element of investment or maybe it’s the small matter of change itself – always a difficult one for the construction industry – but there is still an amount of SMEs who are shrinking away from BIM, despite the fact that it is destined to become the established way.
January 7, 2015
A new report by TechPro Research claims that just five years after it was first given the label, the practice of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is now so prevalent that nearly three quarters (74 percent) of organisations are either already using or planning to allow employees to bring their own devices to work. The report contrasts with past research into the uptake of BYOD to show how quickly the practice is developing and its implications for companies as a way of introducing new working practices and cutting costs (their own, natch) but also in the way they deal with the potential downsides relating to security and maintenance. The report also looks at the evolving role of the practice in light of new technologies such as wearable tech and the Internet of Things.
January 5, 2015
We may be finding out a lot more about the way smartphones shape our behaviour, but a new study from Swiss researchers at the University of Zürich and Fribourg claims that any changes may go a little deeper than the obsessive need to peer at them. It suggests that while repeated and regular use of smartphones improves how quickly and dextrously we use screens and keystrokes, the cortex of our brains is also adapting to cope with the new demands we place on it. Touchscreen usage appears to actually change the way our fingers, thumbs and brains work, according to the report published in the journal Current Biology. The study appears to show that the increased use of touchscreens in the recent past has resulted in an instinctive increase in brain activity when our fingertips are touched.
January 1, 2015
A report published at the end of December by the non-profit Pew Research Center claims that while nearly half of US workers believe that new technology helps them to be more productive, it also means they are working significantly longer hours. The study of 535 people claims that 46 per cent of US workers believe that the internet, email, and mobile phones have upped their productivity, while only 7 per cent think they have led to a fall in their productivity. Over a third (39 percent) of those surveyed say that they now have more flexible working hours, and a similar number (35 percent) believe that new technology has increased the number of hours they work. For office based workers the changes are even more pronounced with nearly half (47 percent) seeing an increase in their working hours.
December 29, 2014
The tap roots of the digital economy will not spread beneath the concrete of Tech City and other urban enclaves, but in the fertile soil of the UK countryside. That is the finding of a new briefing document from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which claims that rural areas are set to overtake towns and cities as the main driver of Britain’s digital economy. As a result of improvements in the country’s digital infrastructure and transport links as well as a changing relationship between firms, employees and contractors, there are now more people moving to the countryside from towns and cities than those moving in the opposite direction. The briefing suggests that by 2025, the rural economy will be worth an additional £35 billion and the productivity of rural areas could outstrip urban areas for the first time since the industrial revolution.
December 23, 2014
According to a report published this week by the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, by taking the lead in developing the internet of things, the UK could transform the way the country lives and deliver huge benefits to the economy. The internet of things – in which digital networks are connecting everyday objects so data can be shared – creates enormous opportunities for both the private sector and government. It also has the potential to be applied in many areas of everyday life, transforming the way we use energy, how we travel and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The number of connected devices could potentially reach up to 100 billion globally by 2020 and industry estimates also suggest that these technologies could have a global value of nearly £10 trillion by then.
December 22, 2014
According to a new report, the global market for smart cities will grow by nearly a factor of three from $411.31 billion in 2014 to $1,135 billion by 2019. The not so snappily titled report, “Smart Cities Market by Smart Home, Intelligent Building Automation, Energy Management, Smart Healthcare, Smart Education, Smart Water, Smart Transportation, Smart Security, & by Services – Worldwide Market Forecasts and Analysis (2014 – 2019)”, has been published by MarketsandMarkets, and claims to define and segment smart cities into various sub-segments of technologies, solutions, services and regions with in-depth analysis and forecasting of revenues. The authors also claim that the report identifies drivers and restraints of this market with insights on trends, opportunities, and challenges.
December 18, 2014
In spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of employees worldwide are disengaged at work, most organisations still don’t think they take a strategic approach to the issue. A new study by technology consultancy Altimeter claims that just 41 percent of organisations believe they take a strategic approach to employee engagement, while only 43 percent believe they have an organisational culture of trust and empowerment with many unable to use technology as part of the solution. The authors of the report cite another study published by Gallup in 2013 which found that 87 percent of employees globally are engaged, rising to 70 percent in the US. The report is based on a study of 114 organisations but mirrors the findings of Deloitte in their report from earlier this year which studied 2,500 organisations and found the same mismatch.
December 12, 2014
The UK’s technological infrastructure is failing to keep pace with the availability of broadband and mobile services and not meeting demands of small businesses and homes, according to Ofcom’s Infrastructure Report 2014. The report outlines the challenges facing the Government as it seeks to deliver appropriate technological infrastructure for both businesses and consumers. The report suggests that although there is an overall improvement in the availability and quality of broadband services, many remote and rural areas aren’t being connected quickly enough, there are too many urban ‘not-spots’, a lack of superfast broadband for small businesses and no discernible plan for the uptake of the next generation of ultrafast broadband. The report found the average UK household or small business is downloading 53 Gigabytes (GB) of data on their fixed broadband line every month.
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