May 11, 2015
Nearly half (46%) of workers struggle to switch off from work, a new survey has revealed. The survey by YouGov of over 2,000 British adults, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week (11 – 17 May) reports many people always or often feeling stressed (29%), anxious (24%) and depressed (17%). With the survey showing nearly two thirds of people (65%) likely to take part in activities that reduce stress, the Mental Health Foundation is calling for a national prevention strategy to reduce the risk of problems and for mindfulness to be more widely practised. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and endorsed in the Chief Medical Officer’s Mental Health report, for reducing the risk of depression.
May 7, 2015
In Sweden, sit-stand working is so commonplace that our Nordic colleagues are perplexed by how slow the UK has been to catch up. The expectation of varying working positions throughout the day is so widespread across Scandinavia that over 80 percent of Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian office workers already use sit stand workstations, and offering employees a height adjustable work station is now mandatory in Denmark. Despite sit-stand working still being in its infancy in the UK, with only 2 percent of knowledge workers having access to height adjustable workstations, there is plenty of compelling evidence, and a groundswell of expert opinion, to suggest that the UK office is going to have to get off its backside pretty soon.
April 28, 2015
A global survey has revealed being happy at work is more important to staff than a high performance, while nearly half of those polled (45%) in the career survey of 1,225 employees worldwide, by Right Management say achieving a work life balance is the most important issue in their career. This was compared to 17 percent who voted ‘being the best at what they do’ as their top career aspiration. More than half of European workers, (55%) aspire to a work life balance, followed by Asia Pacific (37%) and North America (35%). And in terms of age, it is Millennials at 14 percent that are least likely to aspire to be the best at what they do, compared to Baby Boomers (22%) and Gen X (17%). When it comes to success, enjoyment/happiness at work trumps performance and salary: as 26 percent of employees define success in the workplace as enjoyment/happiness.
April 24, 2015
A new 12 month study into the application and effects of working with standing desks has been announced by the University of Chester in conjunction with Virgin Media. However it’s a pretty small scale model – at just one site and presumably with a limited cross section of the general population. It will involve the participation of two groups of 12 agents at Virgin Media’s contact centre in Sheffield. The research will be led by John Buckley, Professor of Applied Exercise Science at the University of Chester, with the aim ‘to uncover the impact of a less sedentary working environment on health, wellbeing and productivity.’ The two groups of agents involved will take it in turns to spend six months each using adjustable sit-stand desks and staying on their feet for a minimum of two hours daily.
April 23, 2015
The search for wellbeing is taking over the workplace as companies look to attract and retain the very best talent. Bosting health, happiness and productivity in the office environment is now paramount to counter potential negative health effects and growing discontent from office workers. A key factor in this topic is the ill-effects caused by workers spending the vast majority of their day sitting inactive at their desks. Workers are now taking a stand in the office and companies are being forced to act. Recent research carried out by the American College of Cardiology reported that an office design that makes people sit at their desk or meeting room for hours every day is equally as bad as putting a cigarette in their hand; leaving them at raised risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
April 22, 2015
A new report published this week by The Work Foundation, Healthy, Working Economies sets out the challenges facing the next UK government to improve the health and wellbeing of the country’s workforce. The report calls on the government to review how it is using local organisations, such as Health and Wellbeing Boards and Local Enterprise Partnerships to encourage improvements in workforce wellbeing and health. The Work Foundation recommends that a standardised set of measures be included in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessments performed by Health and Wellbeing Boards, including measures of employment outcomes for individuals with health issues. The report also suggests that employer leadership is needed to drive the step-change needed to improve the health of the workforce.
April 21, 2015
The level of activity in the UK office market has grown as employers strive to create environments designed to enhance staff wellbeing. According to the 2015 edition of the annual Office Report from property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton, occupiers have expanded headcount and upgraded their accommodation, helping to propel take-up in markets up and down the country. Edinburgh reported record activity; Oxford, Cardiff, Bristol and Cardiff all posted take-up well ahead of their 10-year averages and Manchester enjoyed its best year since 2001. However, over 11 m sq ft of office space has been earmarked for alternative use since the relaxation of planning rules. This equates to an area the size of all the office floor space in Reading being converted into new uses such as apartments and hotels, since the introduction of Permitted Development Rights in May 2013.
April 19, 2015
Employee wellbeing, productivity and privacy are hot topics in the workplace right now and AgileAcoustics think they have a unique solution to drive this forward. The company, based on campus at the University of Bradford has developed a range of acoustic panels that use plastic bottles destined for the scrap heap to make offices around the world more pleasant places to work. About 18 months ago they developed a ‘shaped’ wall print made from recycled plastic bottles, and raised £13,000 on Kickstarter. Shortly after Stuart Jones, the Founder met with a Commercial Interior Designer who loved the prints and advised him to look at the acoustic performance. Jones quickly set to researching the prints acoustic performance, and shortly after decided to develop a spin-off product with class-leading acoustics performance.
April 16, 2015
The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) and the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) have launched their WELL Building Standard in China. The standard sets out to improve the health and wellbeing of people and claims to complement international green building rating programs such as LEED, BREEAM International and Three Star. The Standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features that may impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nutrition, light, physical health, comfort and mental and psychological wellbeing. The standard claims to be based on medical research that links buildings with the health and wellness of the people working and living in them and helps building owners and occupiers to understand those links and create a healthier working environment.
April 14, 2015
In this week’s issue; Justin Miller previews this year’s Milan International Furniture Fair; John Sacks reviews the 35th China International Furniture Fair in Guangzhou and Charles Marks explains why Facebook’s new offices sport a traditional open-plan design. News that commercial occupiers in London are willing to pay a premium for outside access and upper floor views, the latest CIPD research finds that one in three workers have experienced conflict at work, and a US-survey highlights the negative impact on productivity of working with a toxic colleague. There is also video footage of Perry Timms‘ talk on the challenges and opportunities of the future of work made at his TedX in Bucharest. 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.
April 12, 2015
Green infrastructure, social sustainability and intelligent design are the main themes for this year’s Green Sky Thinking event, which takes place between 20-24 April. The event includes a range of informal session and on-site talks that highlight what the organisers claim is best practice on how to ‘design in’ sustainability. The purpose of the programme, led by Open-City, is to enable those working within the built environment to see real life sustainable solutions, talking face to face with those responsible for designing, delivering and managing successful schemes. Its ultimate aim is to help them gain a holistic and cross-disciplinary understanding of how sustainable development is being practically applied across London, while understanding the current technologies, policy and thinking and how these translate into practice.
April 10, 2015
Workplace wellness programmes can help people lose weight, but are more effective when staff are actively involved in the process, a new study has found. The results of a two-year project published in the American Journal of Public Health show that providing healthier food choices and increasing opportunities for physical activity, successfully reduced the number of people considered overweight or obese by almost 9 percent. Results were particularly good when these efforts were designed with the input and active participation of employees. An estimated 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. As they spend on average a third of their lives at work; researchers based at the University of Rochester’s Department of Public Health Sciences worked with a local company to see how effective workplace intervention could be in addressing the obesity problem.