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.
June 29, 2015
New evidence has been published that claims workplaces that value employees’ safety and wellbeing as much as productivity yield the greatest rewards. A study from Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Public Health claims that when the organisation promotes productivity and wellbeing equally to workers, employees report having less work-related musculoskeletal pain. However, when workers perceived an emphasis on either performance or wellbeing unequally, regardless of which concept was felt to be more important, workers reported greater levels of musculoskeletal pain. The trend of emphasising workplace wellness and valuing employee health and wellbeing has been a focus in many organisations in recent years. This study adds new evidence to the argument that using principles such as ergonomics to increase wellbeing in the workplace benefits not only the employee, but the business too.
June 25, 2015
Promoting a culture that improves the health and wellbeing of employees is good management practice and leads to a healthy and productive workplace, according to the Governmental body charged with shaping policy and offering advice on health related matters in the UK. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), part of the Department of Health, has published a new set of guidelines on the issue and called on employers to do more to address the challenge of creating a productive and healthy workplace. According to NICE, workplace health is a significant public health issue with more than a million working people in the UK experiencing a work-related illness each year, leading to around 27 million lost working days and costing the economy an estimated £13.4 billion.
June 23, 2015
The UK government’s fit note scheme, introduced five years ago to help people back to work from long term sickness absence, has failed to deliver its intended reductions, according to research from manufacturing and engineering trade association EEF and Jelf Employee Benefits. The study of 345 companies claims more than two-fifths (43 per cent) of employers believe the policy had not helped employees return to work, up from 35 per cent in 2010. Employers also told the survey that the quality of GP advice on fitness for work has deteriorated, which the report’s authors claim is largely down to the fact that only around one in eight GPs in the UK have been trained in specific health and work and the Government has shown no willingness to invest in more training to bring the numbers of those qualified up to the necessary levels necessary to meet its own goals.
June 22, 2015
More evidence in the case against sitting down at work has been published this week by researchers from Australia’s Deakin University which shows prolonged sitting is linked to an increase in anxiety. In the first systematic review to examine the relationship between sedentary behaviour and anxiety, published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, it was revealed that only nine studies have investigated the link between sitting time and anxiety risk, but that in five of the nine studies, an increase in sitting was found to be associated with an increased risk of anxiety. There appears however, to be no data available yet on a rise in anxiety amongst office workers who, in the last few months have been being bombarded with scare stories about how “sitting is the new smoking” and how they’re putting themselves in mortal danger if they don’t try and stand for several hours a day.
June 21, 2015
In this week’s issue; Dan Callegari argues the importance of creating a working environment that is inherently flexible enough to meet the needs of everybody; and Mark Eltringham lists the award winning products from the recent Neocon workplace design convention in Chicago. A new US report finds Generation Y isn’t as tech savvy as it’s made out to be; Regus research discovers many workers are afraid that working from home will mean they grow lonely, overweight and stale; and muscular skeletal problems and mental ill health remain the main causes of workplace absence. In London, a new kind of workplace is unveiled as part of the London Festival of Architecture; an office built around a tree. 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 16, 2015
Back pain and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) remain the prime reason for long-term workplace absence (38%); with stress and mental-health disorders the main cause of absence for one in four companies. However, the results of the UK’s largest business survey on sickness absence published by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and Jelf Employee Benefits reveals that stress and mental illness is regarded as the most difficult form of absence to make workplace adjustments for, with almost a third of companies saying this is the case. Furthermore, a third of employers said that they do not have approaches for managing mental-health-related long-term absence. Just one in ten companies provides training for line managers in mental-health issues and only 2 percent of companies have an open mental-health disclosure policy, suggesting business matches society in finding it a difficult issue to address.
June 13, 2015
In this week’s issue; Dr Kerstin Sailer, Ros Pomeroy and Rosie Haslem describe the ten demonstrable facts about the workplace you may not know; Mark Eltringham says the most pervasive and enduring myth about the office is that it is somehow dying off and discovers that people have been writing guides to good ergonomics since the early seventeenth Century. Also this week; a parliamentary inquiry into the effects of design on behaviour is launched by the Design Commission, a survey for World FM Day reveals the key role played by FM in wellbeing and productivity, the US Government’s plans to reform the way federal office space is managed, and too few employers advertise jobs with flexible working opportunities. 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 10, 2015
The role of facilities management in increasing productivity and wellbeing is highlighted in a new survey by Sodexo and RICS of their facilities management professional members and contacts to mark World FM Day. Over half of those questioned (61%) said that improvements to workplace environments and services have a positive effect on employees and that employee wellbeing would have a high impact on their organisation over the next two years. The report claims that FM is helping to enhance areas such as social interactions among colleagues (30%), ease of efficiency in day to day tasks (22%) and employees’ health and wellbeing (22%). It builds on the recent Sodexo – Harris Interactive survey, “How Leaders Value Quality of Life,” which revealed 66 percent of managers are convinced that improving quality of life is a strategic priority for their institutions.
June 10, 2015
The well of public discourse about office design is regularly fouled by the effluent of people who really should know better. Normally this is characterised by hyperbolic assertions about how flexible working will lead to The Death of the Office (it won’t) or how the decision by Yahoo and others to go into partial reverse on remote work would spell The Death of Flexible Working (it didn’t). All of this drivel can be forgiven when it comes from civilians, but the fact that it remains commonplace in the workplace media and emanates from the mouths of people who work in the sector is enough to make you despair. The latest example of this attention seeking behaviour, excretion of simplistic bullshit, market making or whatever you see it as, is the drive to demonise sitting, now normally expressed alongside some variant of the slogan ‘Sitting is the New Smoking’.
June 8, 2015
We spend around 60 percent of our life at work and consume at least a third of our daily food intake, which is why the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has announced that the theme of office for its new Chairman, Dr Fiona McCullough, will be workplace health. Responding to recent policies such as the NHS Five Year Forward View and the NICE public health guidance for the workplace, which recognise that businesses benefit from investing in the wellbeing of employees, the BDA is conducting a review of published peer-reviewed evidence of workplace health studies in order to determine how best individuals and employers can optimise health at work. This review will underpin the development of a BDA Work Ready Programme, which has produced interim research that has already highlighted the key role employers can play in enhancing the wellbeing of staff.
June 3, 2015
I recently reviewed over one hundred papers on the impact of noise on workplace satisfaction and found that on average sound level only accounts for 25 percent of effects. By contrast, more than half of the effect is due to psychological factors such as context and attitude, perceived control and predictability and personality type. Noise is a psychophysical phenomenon and as long as we continue to focus on physical metrics and disregard the psychological component, we will never resolve the biggest and often ignored problem of noise in the workplace. The review (available to download for free here) was the first step in revisiting how we tackle the issue. The second step is an on-line survey to explore the relationship between personality and noise distraction. I’d like to invite you to contribute to this research and participate in this survey by clicking here.