July 25, 2014
Given the track record of people when it comes to making predictions about the future, it’s easy to grow cynical, especially when it involves a profession as subject to the vagaries of technological and cultural change as facilities management. But while we should be wary of more fanciful and long term thinking, any natural scepticism shouldn’t blind us to those predictions that we know will largely come true, especially those based on what we know is happening already. For example, recent research carried out by Cass Business School and Henley Business School and presented in the book Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work found that two-thirds of managers believe there would be a revolution in working practices over the coming ten years. Given what we’ve seen over the past ten years, it’s impossible to argue any different. In fact the only quibble we should have with this is that it won’t take another ten years for this to happen because the process is already well underway.
July 22, 2014
The challenge for the typical office is that it is meant to satisfy a broad range of individuals and a variety of working practices; which means what some may describe as a distracting open-plan layout, others would view as a busy collaborative workspace. These conflicts are highlighted in a new study by the British Council for Offices (BCO), Morgan Lovell and Hatch, which surveyed 2,000 UK office workers’ working conditions, attitudes and expectations. For example while over two thirds were critical of the distractions of the open-plan office, nine out of ten employees believe that support from colleagues enhances their wellbeing. Putting aside the open-plan debate, the study espouses the continued importance of the office as the best place to do business and comes up with three key starting points to help employers create a culture of wellbeing: care; control and collaboration. more…
July 16, 2014
The recent Cabinet reshuffle in the UK Government won’t alter one fact; politicians simply don’t get it when it comes to technology, the workplace, the way people work and the needs of small businesses. Once you dismiss the paranoid idea that they DO get it but don’t care because they’re too busy looking out for The Man, you have to conclude that one of the big problems they have (this won’t go where you think) is that they don’t understand anything about technology and work, especially when it comes to emerging technology, the working lives of individuals, the needs and functions of small businesses and the fact the self-employed exist at all. These things exist outside the bubble. This is obviously a problem because they are implementing policies and making big, uninformed and anachronistic decisions about the things that shape every aspect of our lives, help to define us as people and determine how companies and individuals function. Here are just three examples.
July 15, 2014
Nikil Saval’s book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace pulls off that rare feat for a parochial business book of being intelligent and informed (which many are) as well as fascinating, entertaining and realistic, which is rather less commonplace. He pulls this off with plenty of references to pop culture including television series such as Will and Grace, films such as Office Space and The Apartment and, inevitably, the Dilbert cartoons. There is also a great deal of enjoyment to be had in the slightly jaded tone of his writing and brutal evisceration of the likes of Tom Peters who is singled out for special criticism. So too, his take on the very idea of the ‘Office of the Future’ with its slides, basketball courts, pool tables and vivid colours.
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.