October 27, 2014
The UK’s small and medium sized businesses believe that the regional divide in the economy can be bridged to a large extent by technology, according to a new report from Brother UK. According to the report, Regional Attitudes to Growth and Competitiveness, carried out in conjunction with Cardiff University and based on a survey of 600 SMEs around the country, over half (57 percent) believe technology was the key driver of their region’s competitiveness and only one in ten say the competitiveness of their region has declined since the start of the recession. Over two thirds (71 percent) believe technology can improve regional competitiveness and slightly more (73 percent) believe it’s possible to service customers and clients across multiple regions efficiently from their current location. The survey also claims that because each company spends an average of 244 working days a year on business travel and the UK has the second highest annual business travel spend of any Western European nation, despite its comparatively small size, many firms are turning to technology to enhance their competitiveness.
October 21, 2014
The UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has appealed to people to free themselves from digital slavery for at least one day a week. Speaking in The Times, the Chief Rabbi (pictured above) calls on all people to give up their smartphones, tablets and other devices for at least a day a week as part of a campaign to revive adherence to the Jewish custom of the Shabbat in which people do not work between sunset on Friday and Saturday. He has been joined in his call by the Archbishop of Canterbury and The Pope, both of whom have urged people earlier this year to focus less time gazing into the unblinking eye of their devices and instead focussing on the real world, its issues and the people around them as a way of achieving a better work-life balance. The Chief Rabbi claims in the interview that the ceaseless need to respond to electronic messages distracts people from family life, communal living and spiritual reflection.
October 20, 2014
“First we shape our buildings, thereafter our buildings shape us.” Winston Churchill, House of Commons opening speech. Buildings do indeed shape us, but what seems to affect us even more is the neighbourhood. It’s the immediate environment as opposed to buildings that is much harder to create. It needs numerous factors to influence it, among them the two most precious components– the right people and enough time. Politicians all over the world dream of creating zones that will draw the most innovative companies. But it seems that most of them grow organically – the Silicon Valley in California, the Silicon Alley in New York and the Silicon Roundabout in London. The combination of low rents, proximity to the centre of a dynamic metropolis and interesting culture made the East London neighbourhood of Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Aldgate a perfect magnet for some of the world’s most exciting companies. So should you think about relocating there too? Here are some things to consider. more…
October 17, 2014
Deloitte Digital has launched the final version of its report into the collaborative economy carried out on behalf of Google Australia. An interim report, published in July, estimated that the benefits of collaboration to the Australian economy is already $46 billion and could rise to $56 billion. The report also claims that collaboration could help to address specific structural problems including falling productivity and a comparative lack of innovation. The study claims that the average Australian worker spends just under half of a typical working day interacting with other people but that there remains considerable room for improvement in the way those interactions take place. The final version of the report also includes a toolkit to help individuals and organisations to gauge their level and success of their collaborative work. Tellingly, the test is weighted one-third to workplace design, one-third to technology and one-third to culture and governance.
October 15, 2014
Building owners on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly aware of the benefits of Building Information Modelling (BIM), even though they may not yet use it directly, according to a new report published by McGraw Hill Construction in partnership with Autodesk and Skanska. The report, The Business Value of BIM for Owners, suggests that this pent-up demand will be unleashed in the near future with 40 percent of US owners and 38 percent of UK owners predicting that more than 75 percent of their projects will involve BIM in just two years, with a particularly high level of growth in the US. Growth in the UK is being driven by the approaching implementation of a central government mandate requiring use of BIM on all national public projects by 2016, with over two thirds (67 percent) of UK owners reporting that the mandate is already having a high impact on their use of BIM. Owners in the UK are also more generally aware of the benefits of BIM and have more experience of it in practice.
October 15, 2014
The UK Government’s National Technical Authority for Information Assurance (CESG) has updated its official guidance on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), one of the most widely discussed workplace technology phenomena. While it’s tough enough for everybody else to keep up with the personal and cultural implications of technology, the slow but exceedingly fine grinding mills of Government can find it almost impossible to keep up. In an accompanying statement the CESG claims the update is essential because of the rapid uptake in flexible working in the UK and the associated increase in the use of personal mobile devices in a work context. The new guidance suggests that employers should consider the development of a formal BYOD policy, understand relevant legal issues and their potential consequences, manage information and the way it is shared and plan for inevitable security breaches.
October 13, 2014
As we reported recently, flexible working has become a massive recruitment incentive, and this is reflected in yet another survey which found nearly three quarters of parents rate flexible working as very important when they are looking for a new job. Homeworking remains the most popular form of flexi-work, yet according to the survey from Workingmums.co.uk of over 2,000 parents, relatively few employers supply equipment or technical support to enable people to work outside the office. It seems the desire amongst employers to accommodate home workers is there, but not the will to furnish them with the tools they need to do the job properly. In fact, the majority of homeworkers use their own equipment and have to deal with any problems themselves. Though 36 per cent can call on technical support if they get into trouble, unsurprisingly, the survey of over 2,000 parents, sponsored by BBC Future Media, found that many still lack full confidence in remote communications tools despite their desire to work from home. more…
October 8, 2014
Over the next decade, London’s digital tech sector is expected to grow at a rate of 5.1 per cent per annum, creating an additional £12 billion of economic activity and 46,000 new jobs, which in turn is driving change in the commercial property market. Now the rapid rise of the UK property tech market is to get a boost with the announcement of a programme which provides tech companies with access to investment, mentoring and co-working business space. In a strategic partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and Spire Ventures; Pi Labs, Europe’s first property-focused technology accelerator company, will invite start-ups to apply to join the Pi Labs accelerator programme. This will be located within ‘Second Home’, a new iconic 20,000 sq. ft. co-working space in Shoreditch, designed to set new global standards in the provision of stimulating private and social workplace environments supporting collaboration and co-working amongst creative and technology businesses.
October 3, 2014
The utilisation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to innovate FM within a business, and the way in which strategic FM can help boost the wellbeing of employees are two of the latest case studies launched by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) aimed at illustrating the vital role played by FM in the success of an organisation. The case studies, produced by International Workplace, and available to download here, outline how businesses, large and small, can utilise strategic FM to enhance their business’ output. Through organisations as varied as The Royal BAM Group and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the theme of professionalising FM is brought to life and explained using tangible, real life examples. Speaking at the launch of the case studies, held at KPMG, featured for its living wage initiative, Neil Murray, Managing Director at Sodexo UK talked about the contribution FMs can make to an organisation by making it a better place to work. more…
October 3, 2014
We have grown accustomed to the way technology distorts time and space. This, after all, is the underlying tension that defines each of the major debates about the workplace, including flexible working, office design, facilities management and the acquisition of commercial property. But, as they say, we ain’t seen nothing yet as the next generation of technologies starts to scale the upslope of the diffusion of innovation curve. People have been talking about telepresence for a little while, but it is about to achieve mainstream awareness thanks to events such as the appearance of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange at a conference in the USA last week. Assange is famously holed up in London in the Ecuadorian Embassy, challenging his extradition to Sweden to face trial and can’t leave the building without being arrested. So the way he appeared at the conference in Nantucket was as a hologram.
October 1, 2014
The technology sector trade association techUK has published a new report urging politicians and policy makers to acknowledge the UK’s role in the global technology market, create the conditions in which it can thrive and oversee the roll-out of new digital services across the public sector and beyond. The body, which has more than 850 members employing 500,000, claims that Securing our Digital Future: the techUK manifesto for growth and jobs 2015-2020 offers a blueprint for jobs growth in the tech sector and the chance for the UK to establish a reputation as a world leader in the global digital revolution. The report coincides with the announcement that the UK Government has commissioned a report to explore how Britain can lead the development of the sharing economy based on the success of firms such as Airbnb and Zipcar. Ahead of next year’s General Election, the techUK report calls on the next government to use technology to improve the quality and accessibility of public services, increase productivity and secure a million new jobs.
September 29, 2014
Simultaneously using mobile phones, laptops and other media devices could be changing the structure of our brains, according to a new study published by researchers at the University of Sussex. A study published last week in PLOS ONE reveals that people who frequently use several media devices at the same time have lower grey-matter density in one particular region of the brain compared to those who use just one device occasionally. The research supports earlier studies showing connections between high media multitasking activity and poor attention in the face of distractions, along with emotional problems such as depression and anxiety. But neuroscientists Kep Kee Loh and Dr Ryota Kanai point out that their study reveals a link rather than causality and that a long-term study needs to be carried out to understand whether high concurrent media usage leads to changes in the brain structure, or whether those with less-dense grey matter are more attracted to media multitasking.