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Land Securities takes full control of Thomas More Square for £85.3m

Land Securities takes full control of Thomas More Square for £85.3mLand Securities has taken full control of Thomas More Square, in London’s E1 for £85.3 million. It acquired the 50 per cent share it doesn’t already own from an affiliate of its joint venture partner the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. The Thomas More Square Estate, which is located between St Katharine Docks and London Dock – totals approximately 4.2 acres and includes six office buildings incorporating retail, leisure and parking. Land Securities was granted planning permission in June 2014 for a comprehensive refurbishment of Building 3 at Thomas More Square and a redesign of the estate’s public realm. The plans for the 570,000 sq ft estate include 200,000 sq ft of fully refurbished office and retail space in Building 3 which will include a new double height entrance and an extensive business lounge. Tenants Ipsos MORI and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (“MOL”) have already let 97,000 sq ft of Building 3 on 15 year leases with 10 year breaks; while a further 100,000 sq ft will be available from mid-2015. More →

Campaign aims to help European employers manage work-related stress

Campaign aims to help European employers manage work-related stressWork-related stress is the second most frequently reported health problem in Europe – with mental health disorders estimated to cost European employers around 240 billion euros per year. Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention – published jointly by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Working and Living Conditions (Eurofound), reveals that although fewer people report working long hours, job insecurity has increased across Europe, and in some countries work intensity has risen in companies struggling in the economic crisis. Work-related stress is also seen as a ‘sensitive’ or ‘difficult’ area — a perception that may however differ from one country to another. The publication of the report coincides with the theme for the 2014 European Week for Safety and Health at Work, (20 to 24 October) – Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress. All this week, EU-OSHA and its community of partners aims to get Europe talking about stress and how the psychosocial risks in the workplace can be tackled together. More →

We’ve long had ‘overwhelming evidence’ for the link between office design and productivity

office designPerhaps the most widely reported news from the world of workplace over the last couple of weeks has been the analysis from the World Green Building Council that links office design with productivity and wellness. And the two words from the report that have featured most commonly in the associated stories’ headlines have been ‘overwhelming evidence’. While this has been repeated as if it’s some kind of revelation, the truth is that we have had compelling and overwhelming evidence for many years, and barely a year goes past without some study or other making the same point in no uncertain terms. Each report merely serves to raise a more interesting question; given the sheer body of work linking the workplace with productivity (and happiness and motivation and so on), why does the argument still need to be made?

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Mental health friendly workplaces will lead to a state of wellbeing says report

Make workplaces mental health friendly to create a state of wellbeingMaking places of work mental health friendly with government leading the way as an employer is one of the key recommendations of a landmark study on the state of mental health in England published today. Concluding the 12 month study on the state of wellbeing in England the CentreForum Mental Health Commission report reveals that mental health related sickness absence and lost productivity costs business up to £23.5 billion annually, and says that government must take the lead in tackling this problem by ensuring all public sector enterprises become mental health friendly employers. It also urges organisations with more than 500 employees to work towards that status. The Commission says the “pursuit of happiness” must become an explicit and measurable goal of government if the £105 billion annual cost of mental illness in England is to be reduced and identifies five key priorities between now and 2020. More →

Support for flexible working an increasing challenge for IT managers, claims survey

Flexible workingOne of the greatest challenges currently facing IT managers is providing secure and robust technological infrastructure for flexible working, and it is set to become even greater as more and more firms adopt Cloud based working, according to a new report  from technology specialists ControlCircle. The survey of 250 UK based CIOs, ‘IT Growth and Transformation’ found that over the next five years the increasing mobility of the workforce is going to present them with a range of increasingly important challenges, with IT leaders predicting that security (56 percent), cloud (46 percent) and mobility (41 percent) set to become the biggest challenges they face. The survey also revealed that nearly half (48 percent) of respondents experience hourly, daily and weekly technology availability issues and a fifth (21 percent) experience business downtime daily or hourly as a result.

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Managing stress is employers’ number one health and wellbeing priority

Managing stress is employers' number 1 wellbeing priorityBeing ‘stressed’ can describe a whole range of conditions; from having a particularly demanding working day to feeling cripplingly anxious and depressed. Although there are still an awful lot of managers out there who dismiss the term as a shirker’s excuse, it’s a condition that must be taken seriously. Stress accounts for a massive 40 per cent of all workplace absences, but it is also the underlying cause of many other conditions that lead to staff staying off work. This is why the 40 per cent of employers that now routinely record the secondary cause of absence alongside the primary stated reason for long-term sick leave are realising the huge impact mental health plays from the outset. It’s behind the growing recognition on the need for early intervention strategies to help support people to manage these conditions and encourage them to maintain a work/life balance. More →

Public sector purchasing doesn’t need this kind of lightbulb moment

lightbulb1The latest of the weekly kickings reserved for the UK’s public sector purchasing community comes in the shape of a BBC Panorama documentary alleging that a range of frauds and cock-ups cost the National Health Service around £7 billion a year. The NHS denies these figures but there are clearly obvious and serious deficiencies in the way goods and services are procured across the public sector, as we have reported. Yet there is a flipside to such reports which tap in to (and sometimes pander to) a widespread scepticism of the way the public sector goes about its business. So we must first ask whether an equivalent private sector organisation with a budget of £109 billion a year would not also be open to a wide range of eye-wateringly expensive failures, inefficiencies and frauds. And secondly we must question whether the great British public, along with some businesses, are generally able to grasp the issues involved.

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UK Government urged to push ahead with zero carbon commercial buildings

light bulb turbine croppedThe UK’s Green Building Council has fired off its latest salvo in an ongoing battle with the Government over the implementation of environmental legislation for commercial buildings. A new report from the organisation’s Task Group urges the Government to push ahead with plans to ensure that by 2019 all new non domestic buildings will be built to zero carbon standards. The report claims that the implementation of appropriate regulations is hampered by a lack of clarity, including confusion over what zero carbon actually means as well as the government’s own stop-start  approach to the environment. The current 2019 commitment to zero carbon buildings falls a year ahead of the deadline specified in European Law, but a recent focus from the coalition on reducing relevant legislation has added to confusion about the overall approach.

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The nine enduring workplace tensions to keep an eye on in the year ahead

The nine enduring workplace tensions to keep an eye on in the year aheadThere were a number of workplace issues that wouldn’t go away during 2013. And there’s no reason to believe we will resolve many of them during 2014 either. We can try to explain the recalcitrance of such things by referring to the enveloping fog that emanates from the commercial interests who promote problems to their customers so they can provide the solutions, but many are more deep-rooted. Technology and its constant radicalising effects is almost invariably the major driver of change, but it is only one thread in a complex web of social, professional, demographic, cultural and commercial changes. So here, in no particular order, are the issues we expect to spend the most time talking about on Insight over the next year. More →

Mixed use scheme’s sustainable power supply gets vice-presidential seal of approval

Quadrant 3 at Regent Street boasts space technology The Quadrant 3 redevelopment of offices, retail, residential, restaurant and hotel space in the Regent Street Quadrant in London has become the first in the UK to install an efficient and sustainable fuel cell that draws its power from the same technology used to provide energy to space shuttles during flights. It’s so impressed former US Vice President Al Gore he’s headquartered his sustainable investment firm, Generation Investment Management at Quadrant 3. The building’s sustainable design was an important factor in the firm’s decision to move to the scheme with Mr Gore commenting that the developer, The Crown Estate demonstrated a “sophisticated commitment to sustainability”. More →

AHMM chosen for new Met Police headquarters project

New New Scotland Yard

Courtesy of Simon Heath

The firm of architects chosen for Google’s enormous new North London headquarters project as well as the redevelopment of the BBC’s Television Centre has been chosen to design the new home of the Metropolitan Police in Whitehall. The decision to award the job to Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) was announced by the Mayor of London, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) is selling New Scotland Yard, and moving to modern offices at the iconic Curtis Green building on the Victoria Embankment in 2015. This new building will then revert to being called Scotland Yard.

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Govt incentives needed to promote energy efficiency for non-residential buildings

Energy efficiency for built environment needs incentives to work Govt warned

The Government should conduct a comprehensive assessment of non-residential low-carbon policies to ensure they work effectively said the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in its latest annual progress report to Parliament today. Progress in implementing some of the measures required to meet carbon budgets was limited in 2012, it warned, while the simplification of the CRC energy efficiency scheme beyond the CCC’s original recommendations has further eroded the incentives to improve energy efficiency it set out to provide. John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications at the UK Green Building Council, said: “Just one day before the release of official statistics on the Green Deal, the CCC’s report is a timely reminder that the Coalition’s flagship energy efficiency policy needs to be further incentivised to encourage take-up.”

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