July 14, 2014
In the latest copy of the Workplace Insight newsletter available to view online; Chris Kane argues that people and place are a company’s most valuable assets and only by developing them both in tandem will you unlock their true value. We reveal that far from improving their work/life balance, flexible working means nearly half of managers work an extra day each week; the Dutch beat the Germans in workplace happiness and productivity levels, and the UK’s public sector spends almost twice as much on outsourced services as the country’s private sector. The BBC announces plans to move more staff out of its central London offices as part of its strategy to reduce property costs, and news of a transformation in the way the US corporate real estate market approaches the environmental performance of buildings. We also include a link to the new issue of Work&Place, the journal we publish in partnership with Occupiers Journal.
July 11, 2014
6 Bevis Marks – next to the Gherkin in the City of London – has been completed, with the first two tenants expected to take occupation in August. The mixed use building comprises 160,000 sqft (14,864 sqm) of office and retail space over 15 floors, and has been developed in a joint venture between AXA Real Estate and BlackRock. Located close to Liverpool Street, where the new Crossrail station is due to open in 2018, the building features a rooftop garden square, a ground floor business lounge, full on-site cyclist facilities and a private landscaped courtyard with access to the public realm surrounding the Gherkin. The development also features a 26-screen media wall in the reception, which is being used to host the Vivid Digital arts programme – a commission of young filmmaking talent supported by the developer. The building is BREEAM Excellent rated, with a range of sustainability features. more…
July 9, 2014
The UK’s Communities secretary Eric Pickles has – in no uncertain terms – thrown out the controversial £160m plans to redevelop London’s historic Smithfield Market. The development, which would have been located in the heart of London’s creative and office design communities, was rejected with a strongly worded statement that concluded: ‘the extent of damage that the application would cause to the important heritage assets at Smithfield runs entirely counter to national and policy objectives intended to protect such assets from harm and that this would seriously undermine any economic, social or environmental benefits otherwise arising from the development, such that the proposal would not represent sustainable development.’ Objections to the plans had been led by the Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage and enjoyed the backing of high profile public figures such as Alan Bennett, Kristin Scott Thomas and RIBA Journal editor Hugh Pearman.
July 7, 2014
It’s not just Europe that is experiencing an explosion of interest in green building design. According to a new report from CBRE and Maastricht University, the past ten years have seen a transformation in the way the US corporate real estate market approaches the environmental performance of buildings. According to the National Green Building Adoption Index for 2014, produced by CBRE there has been a remarkable increase in the application of green building standards in the thirty most important regional commercial property markets in the US. Based on data from the US Green Building Council, the number of office buildings which are LEED* or Energy Star** certified has surged since 2005. The proportion of LEED certified buildings in America now stands at 5 percent, up from under 0.5 percent over the course of the survey period. The total proportion of office space which now has some form of green accreditation is just under a fifth.
June 27, 2014
In these post-recession times, companies are investing heavily in their operations and the UK business community definitely has more of a spring in its step. Now, more than ever, it is important to have the right team on board and employers are now finding that their biggest challenge is how to attract and keep high quality personnel. It is becoming increasingly clear that an attractive salary package alone is simply not enough, even with benefits. More than ever before, workers are thinking about the quality of life which a job can provide and an intrinsic part of this is a working environment which will provide a sense of wellbeing. If companies are going to attract and retain the very best staff, they are going to have to think about how to provide this, because the physical workplace can be a powerful means of providing an environment in which people can thrive. Research has shown that there are six dimensions to be taken into consideration when striving to create a workspace which will provide a sense of wellbeing.
June 26, 2014
The incessant debate about open plan offices is informed by a number of assumptions that can lead us to misunderstand the issues involved. Nigel Oseland eviscerates several of them excellently here, making it plain that a great deal is lost in translation somewhere over the mid-Atlantic. In truth, the European and US experiences of the open plan are very different and while we in the UK could always laugh along with our US counterparts at the organisational insanity of Dilbert, the cubicles themselves were largely alien to us. Another red herring in the debate is the idea that the open plan office is for extroverts and its alternatives for introverts. There is something in this but it’s too simplistic an idea and is often built around the stereotypes associated with sectors such as TMT, the age of workers (especially Gen Y) and supposed national characteristics, not least the reserve of Brits and the brashness of Yanks.
June 25, 2014
More UK companies are proactively designing their workspaces with wellbeing in mind as the health and wellbeing of office workers soars up the list of business priorities. This is according to Bostjan Ljubic, the newly appointed head of Steelcase in the UK and Ireland, who believes the economic impact of employee wellbeing, plus greater understanding of the issue is now propelling companies to develop and enhance their engagement with their workforces, as they increase their post-recession drive to attract and retain high quality staff. “The issue of wellbeing has developed very significantly in recent times,” said Ljubic. “Businesses that are focusing clearly on the issue are doing so because they have identified the potential emotional, financial and competitive advantage. The mountain of research on wellbeing points very clearly to it being in a company’s interests to take the matter seriously.” more…
June 25, 2014
The new copy of Insight is now available to view online. It’s been a busy few weeks for sure and this edition certainly reflects that. We introduce the new issue of Work&Place, the journal we publish in partnership with Occupiers Journal, with contributors that include Professor Franklin Becker of Cornell University, Chris Kane CEO of commercial projects at the BBC, Andrew Laing of AECOM, Simon Allford of architects AHMM Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, designer and workplace strategist Ziona Strelitz and Ian Ellison of Sheffield Hallam University. Elsewhere, Sara Bean reports on key structural changes in the UK property market, Mark Eltringham ponders what we have learned in the build-up to new flexible working regs, Simon Heath casts a jaundiced eye over a mixed bag of RIBA Workplace Award winners and Justin Miller pays tribute to a product that 20 years ago first radicalised then permanently transformed the way we viewed ergonomics and workplace design.
June 24, 2014
You can’t help but notice that surveys about flexible working have been pretty thick on the ground over the last few weeks and months. The reason is that – as well as the usual ongoing fascination with the subject – the UK Government is extending the right to request regulations at the end of this month, allowing all staff to ask their employers for flexible working after six months in a job. As well as the numerous studies that firms have commissioned to explore the issue, there has been even more commentary and guidance, often from law firms. While we should always view each of these in context, adding however much salt we deem necessary to season their findings, what is always interesting when you have a media pile-in like this is to sift through it all to look for patterns, common themes and contrasts. Here are just five:
June 24, 2014
There is an ongoing feeling within the facilities management discipline that when it comes to the design of workplaces, the majority of facilities managers are not consulted early enough or well enough or consistently enough to ensure that the end result of the design process is a workplace that is as functional and as effective as it could be. The reason this feeling persists is that in many cases it is true. Or at least is true to a greater or lesser extent depending on how you view these things. And if that sounds woolly, then you have to remember we are talking about facilities management here, finding a definition for which has been like nailing jelly to a wall for many years. In many cases the demarcation between workplace design and workplace management is based on the mistaken idea that the two have little correlation when in fact the relationship between them should be more akin to that between sex and parenthood. One is an act of creation and the other of care, with the latter a direct consequence of the former.
June 23, 2014
As reported last week, the vast majority of office workers might prefer to work outdoors; but the office is where we spend most of our working lives. Indeed, for an average of eight hours a day, five days a week, office workers can reliably be found in the same surroundings – at a familiar desk, with familiar colleagues, within a familiar building. Perhaps as a result of this, too few of us stop to consider the risks of working indoors, assuming that the danger of serious harm is the sole preserve of outdoor working sites. Nonetheless, office work contains risks which are entirely its own. For example, while outdoor workers benefit from physical exercise, sunshine (occasionally), and fresh air, office workers perform their daily duties in a space where air is continuously recirculated, posing numerous dangers. Indeed, indoor air pollution is actually a major public health problem, posing a myriad of risks as dangerous particles accumulate in office air.
June 20, 2014
The new issue of Work&Place is now available to view online. Published by Occupiers Journal in partnership with Insight it offers a wide range of thought leadership, research, commentary and case studies from the world’s foremost commentators, academics and practitioners in the world of workplace design and management. Contributors this quarter include Professor Franklin Becker of Cornell University, BBC CEO of Commercial Projects Chris Kane, Andrew Laing of AECOM, Simon Allford of architects AHMM Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, designer and workplace strategist Ziona Strelitz and Ian Ellison of Sheffield Hallam University. Work&Place offers progressive and informed commentary on some of the most pressing and cutting edge issues facing workplace designers and managers around the world today including co-working, office design, architecture, facilities management, workplace analytics, technology, flexible working, productivity and urbanisation.
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