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Business success is progressively less related to employment levels

Business success is progressively less related to employment levels 0

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If you want to understand exactly how the economy has changed over the last few decades, one of the most important statistics is also one of the least remarked upon. It is the growing disconnect between a firm’s earnings and the number of people it employs, a statistic that puts paid to the lie that people are an organisation’s greatest asset. Once upon a time, of course, there was a direct correlation of one sort or another between the a firm’s revenue and the number of people it employed and consequently the amount of space that it took up. This was especially true for the world’s great manufacturers and other industries engaged in what was once proper work; moving, creating, destroying and maintaining things. Growth and success meant more employment and more space. There were economies of scale but the upshot was more or less an arithmetic progression in employment based on earnings.

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Employment is increasingly dependent on an ability to get on with people

Employment is increasingly dependent on an ability to get on with people 0

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peopleIt can be heartening to learn that there will still be a role for humans in the forthcoming world of robots, drones and driverless vehicles. Inevitably, it is those skills that are hard to automate that will define many of the human jobs of the near future and so one of the skills that will continue to attract paid employment will be the ability to get on with other people. This skill has already defined the labour market for the past 35 years and helped to narrow gender differences in the job market. These are the main conclusions of a new report published by David Deming of the US based National Bureau of Economic Research.  According to his working paper “The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market,” which is currently awaiting peer review, nearly all job growth since 1980 has been in occupations that depend to a large extent on well developed social skills.

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Six key workplace and property announcements from this week’s budget

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BudgetIn yesterday’s budget announcement, the Chancellor maintained the Government’s focus on regional devolution and investment in both physical and digital infrastructure. In truth, there was little surprising in the announcements, many of which had been signalled in advance and were rooted in existing policies. Some of them arrived fully formed, such as the devolution of powers related to business rates. Others, including the much talked about and overdue investment in regional infrastructure such as the cross country fast rail link, were fleshed out. Given that this is a budget with both eyes on the forthcoming general election, it’s a shame that some announcements lacked detail. Here are six of the key announcements that will affect the workplace, technology and property sectors.

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Workplace Week focuses on the office and individual productivity in all its forms

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1KP_4971The holy grail of improving people’s productivity was the focus of this year’s Workplace Week, which took place last week from 3-7th November and raised more than £12,500 for Children in Need. The annual event organised by AWA and designed as a celebration of workplace innovation, included visits to 11 workplaces showcasing the latest techniques to get people performing at their very best, a day-long convention and a series of Fringe events. Andrew Mawson, who heads up AWA, opened the convention by setting the discussion in context. “We have maximised asset productivity by getting more people into buildings, and therefore working a building harder. But we need to focus on human productivity. If each organisation could make each person just 5 per cent more productive, that would have a major impact both on that organisation and the wider economy. In the knowledge economy we need to get the very best performance out of each and every brain on the payroll and to create the conditions that consciously support that.

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Three ways in which politicians display their ignorance of the workplace

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Workplace bubbleThe 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.

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HS2 is a project for today projected into an uncertain future

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Back to the futureBarely a day passes in the media without some new battleground opening up in the debate about the UK’s plan to develop HS2, the high speed line connecting London with Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and, for some reason, a place nobody’s heard of halfway between Derby and Nottingham called Toton (pop. 7,298). While the debate rages about the cost, the economic benefits, regional rebalancing, environmental impact, route and why the Scots and others are paying for a project that may leave them with worse train services,  one of the fundamental flaws with the case for HS2 goes largely disregarded. It is that this is clearly a project designed for today, but that won’t be complete for another twenty years. The world then will be very different and, unfortunately, time isn’t quite as malleable as the movies would have us believe.

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The future belongs to those who leave themselves choices of how to deal with it

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unknown-futureEverybody likes to talk and read about the future. It’s one of the reasons we see so many reports about what the ‘office of the future’ will look like. Often these attempts at workplace prognosis are overwhelmingly  rooted in the present which might betray either a degree of timidity or lack of awareness of just how far along their standard list of trends we really are. Even when such reports appear to be bang on the money, they tend to disregard one of the most important factors we need to consider when trying to get a handle on the future, which is the need to leave ourselves choices. This is important because not only will the future be stranger than we think, but stranger than we can imagine, to paraphrase J B S Haldane.

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