September 6, 2016
It’s not just British workers who are experiencing the creep of longer working weeks and in spite of the EU’s Working Time Directive. A report published last week in the German newspaper Zeit based on information supplied by the German Federal Ministry of Labour in the Bundestag found that Germans now work significantly longer hours than they did twenty years ago. According to the report, the number of people in Germany working more than 48 hours per week grew by around a third in the twenty years between 1995 and 2015, up from 1.3 million to 1.7 million. The report found that a growing number of Germans are now working in the evening and at weekends and outside traditional working hours. One in four Germans now work routinely at weekends. The report also found that the number of people in work grew over the period by 2 million to 32 million while the overall German population barely increased at all during the two decades to 2015.
September 5, 2016
Our aim at BESA is to raise awareness about indoor air quality and encourage more people to be mindful of the best solutions for particular buildings and building types to ultimately promote a healthy workplace environment. The BESA revealed the results of a recent YouGov survey (released on 17 August 2016), which looked into views of office workers and their attitudes toward indoor air pollution in office environments across the UK. The aim of the study was to illustrate attitudes, behaviours and perceptions in order to understand how office workers feel, think and act. Our survey, combined with our ongoing research and collaborations, shows us that opening a window isn’t always the most effective solution to accessing ‘fresh air’ in offices. BESA wholeheartedly agree with Mark Eltringham’s comment that clean, fresh air, is the best way to ventilate a workplace environment. Our survey was commissioned to highlight that in the urban, office environment, this is not always possible.
September 3, 2016
Electrosensitivity is a particularly 21st century disease. Also known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) or Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI), it is a condition that is said to arise as a result of exposure to the low-level electromagnetic fields that now surround us, such as those that emanate from mobile and wireless technology, power lines and fluorescent and low-energy lighting. According to the Wireless Protection Organisation, symptoms of electrosensitivity can be far reaching, affecting us physically, cognitively and emotionally. Specific signs and symptoms may include: fatigue, faintness and sleep problems; headache, eye pain and visual disturbances, earache, tinnitus, toothache; skin irritation, tingling and burning; chest pain and irregular heart beat; aches, pains and numbness in joints, bones and muscles in arms and legs; lack of concentration, memory loss; and tress and irritability and depression
September 3, 2016
In this week’s Newsletter; Mark Eltringham describes what Lewis Carroll can teach us about the office of the future; we learn of the personality differences between iPhone and Android smartphone users; and disturbing news from Australia on a growing culture of presenteeism. BSRIA releases a new topic guide on indoor air quality (IAQ); a new report claims a direct link between lack of sleep and lower workplace productivity; and how fewer distractions make home the preferred place for maximum productivity. The average UK commuter adds almost 800 calories to their diet every week; staff want a more human experience at work and the Institute for Employment Studies, aims to track the effects of the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Download our new Briefing, produced in partnership with Boss Design on the link between culture and workplace strategy and design; visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
September 2, 2016
A partner helps you learn – even if you don’t know them. That is the conclusion of research being presented today by Catherine Crompton from the University of Edinburgh to the annual conference of the British Psychological Society’s Cognitive Psychology Section in Barcelona. In the research for her PhD, Catherine carried out two studies that each paired 48 people and asked them to learn an unfamiliar task. In both studies, half the pairs knew each other and half did not. Both older and younger participants were tested, each paired with a partner of similar age. In the first study, the pairs were asked to arrange abstract tangram shapes in a specific order on a grid. In the second, the pairs were asked to learn a route on a map and then recall it one hour and one week later. The first study showed that the pairs got better at the task with practice, whether or not the pairs had known each other before the study. The effects were the same, regardless of age.
September 1, 2016
The Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) has released a new topic guide on indoor air quality (IAQ), which is now available to download free from the association’s website. The guide is written for those seeking some introductory information about indoor air quality including prevalence, history and definition, along with information on types of contaminants and their exposure limits, while readers are also provided with a useful site map. BSRIA’s asset performance team leader, Blanca Beato-Arribas, said: “People spend approximately 80 per cent of their time indoors. There is enough evidence that links poor air quality with permanent damages to health or even death. Therefore, we should be aware of the quality of the air that we breathe both at home and at work, and ensuring good indoor air quality at work should be a priority for employers.” The guide will provide insight into the most common contaminants, both from indoor sources and external sources as well as a summary of the current legislation and a guide map of what contaminants to investigate.
September 1, 2016
Almost a third (3.5 million) of all employed people in Australia now regularly work from home in their main job or business, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). “42 per cent of those who regularly work from home cited catching up on work as the main reason,” said Jennifer Humphrys, Director of Labour Market Analytics at the ABS. “A further 20 per cent regularly worked from home because they wanted an office or didn’t want to pay rent or overheads.” This means in effect that one in six Australians now feel unable to complete their work in normal office hours. These were some of the results from the Characteristics of Employment survey, conducted in August 2015, which collected information on the distribution of weekly earnings, working arrangements and independent contractors. “Nearly one in five employed persons usually worked shift work. Of these, two-fifths usually worked a rotating shift, which periodically changed,” said Ms Humphrys.
September 1, 2016
Our choice of smartphone may provide valuable information about our personalities. That is one of the findings of a doctoral study conducted by Heather Shaw from University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology. She is presenting her work today to the British Psychological Society Social Psychology Section annual conference in Cardiff. Heather and her fellow researchers conducted two studies of personality differences between iPhone and Android smartphone users. In the first study the researchers asked 240 participants to complete a questionnaire about characteristics they associate with users of each smartphone brand. In the second study they tested these stereotypes against actual personality traits of 530 Android and iPhone smartphone users. The results from the first study showed that Android users are perceived to have greater levels of honesty and humility, agreeableness and openness personality traits but are seen as less extroverted than iPhone users.
September 1, 2016
The average UK commuter adds almost 800 calories to their diet every week as a result of their journey to and from work, according to our new report, Health in a Hurry, from the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health. The study of around 1,500 people claims that the average time spent commuting in the UK has increased in recent years to almost an hour a day, and suggests longer commutes are therefore potentially shortening lives. The report highlights the impact of travelling to and from work caused by forms of passive commuting including rail, bus and car. It says that this part of the daily routine has a huge impact on the public’s health and wellbeing with longer commute times associated with increased stress, higher blood pressure and BMI, and reduced time available for health-promoting activities such as cooking, exercising and sleeping. Commuters in London have an average journey of 79 minutes while it is just under 45 minutes for people living in Wales.
September 1, 2016
A new report from The Future Laboratory and UBS Wealth Management claims to identify the key factors that will drive workplace change in the near future. According to The Future of the Workforce report, the next two decades will see the way we work completely reshaped by forces such as artificial intelligence and an increasingly multigenerational workforce. The report claims that the entry of more Millennials into the workplace, their differing values to older workers, a growing propensity to turn freelance and the dissolution of the old bonds of loyalty could mean that employers struggle to create a strong culture. The report also claims that there will be a growing emphasis on the provision of wellness programmes, driven partly by growing demand from employees as well as a greater focus on improving productivity from employers. It also suggests that employers need to act to remove any biases they may have to appeal to the values of the new generation of workers.
August 31, 2016
Employees who feel communication within their organisation is open and honest are nearly 15 times more likely to be engaged, and those who are encouraged to share ideas and opinions are 11 times more likely, claims a survey which suggests that staff want a more human experience, grounded in loyalty, recognition, respect, and honesty. Areas viewed as the best opportunities to differentiate in terms of staff engagement include above-average pay and benefits, a fun place to work, workplace flexibility, a strong fit with individual values, stimulating work, and a spirit of innovation. But according to results of the survey from Aon Hewitt what employees want in a workplace is not what they experience. And these gaps are having an impact on employees’ intent to stay. Of the 52 percent who would leave their current company for another job, 44 percent are actively looking. Opinions about what makes an employer stand out from other companies are similar across generations.
August 30, 2016
A new study claims that there is a direct link between sleep and productivity. A survey of more than 97,000 employees in 33 industries and 139 countries from Global Corporate Challenge (GCC), found evidence of a link between sleep and performance. Currently, one in three adults regularly fail to get enough sleep, according to the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and Harvard Medical School estimates that the cost adds up to USD $63.2 billion annually. This includes money lost through absenteeism as well as the accidents, mistakes, and impaired productivity employees suffer when they do show up to work. And the one of the primary causes is working long hours and forms of presenteeism such as checking emails at home. To help combat this problem the report urges those at the top of the organisation to set an example and demonstrate that working long hours in exchange for reduced sleep is counterproductive and won’t be encouraged.