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Seven thoughts on the UK facilities management association merger

New broomWith breathless excitement a press release announces the proposed merger of all of the UK’s major facilities management and support services trade associations, or rather notes that they: “have agreed to the concept of forming one single and united body to represent facilities management and support services.” With a sense of crushing inevitability the first step has been to form a steering group to address how these and other organisations could come together into this single body to meet the needs of the industry and the professionals that work within it. With this in mind, I proffer a few pieces of advice in the form of seven thoughts for those involved in these discussions.

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What workers really want from their offices? The basics.

The basicsSo what do people really want from their offices? It’s a question that has tasked the minds of researchers for many years. According to a recent survey from Overbury, the ideal office design seemed to be a Starbucks, but a new report from the British Council for Offices suggests that what people want isn’t actually that much. Top of the list of priorities for the 1,200 or so people surveyed were fast Wi-Fi, comfortable surroundings, a convenient location and a decent, if unspectacular, fit-out, although responses varied to a certain degree across age groups and sectors. Is that really too much to ask? And are the pool table and the slide absolutely necessary?

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New survey reveals risks of cutting costs in corporate real estate

JLL ReportA new report from Jones Lang LaSalle claims to highlight how those firms who see their property as a driver of added value rather than a cost reap rewards in the form of higher revenue, employee performance and shareholder returns. In contrast, those firms who view their facilities as a cost and seek to reduce those costs for short term gain are, in fact, storing up long term problems and risks. JLL’s report – Global Corporate Real Estate Trends – claims to reveal the top five corporate real estate risks, including negative impacts on competitive advantage and profitability from cost cutting, procurement processes, lack of collaboration between functions and failure to drive productivity.

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New projects to research green building solutions

The BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials

Two major new projects to further the development of sustainable building solutions have been launched. The BRE (Building Research Establishment) National Solar Centre, aimed at providing a research based, independent platform in the use of solar energy in the UK was officially opened in Cornwall today, and a £1m ground-breaking building called the HIVE funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and led by Dr Mike Lawrence from the University of Bath’s BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, is to be built at a dedicated research park in Swindon.

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Client focus as crucial as great design says RIBA

The architectural profession can't rely on great design alone, but needs to be more business and client focused

The architectural profession can’t rely on great design alone, but needs to be more business and client focused warns the Royal Institute of British Architects. According to RIBA’s 2012/13 Business Benchmarking Survey, 62 per cent of practices do not have a business plan and, of those that do, only 13 per cent plan beyond one year. Interestingly, the survey also finds that 50 per cent of the profession’s work is won as the result of a direct approach with no competitive process. RIBA President Angela Brady said: “One key element exposed in these latest results is the acute split in business management, profitability and specialisms between large and small practices on how to make the most of their own position in the market place. What is clear is that if growth is on the agenda for a practice, then simply being a great designer, or a good project runner, is unlikely to be enough.” More →

Public sector property initiatives have proved successful but work still needed

Gorilla-in-a-hat1There was a time, not so long ago, when nobody worried too much about the shape of the rooms that led off the corridors of power. But the pressure on UK finances has politicised the design of the UK’s public buildings. The latest example of this was the recent  announcement  in Parliament of a report that, amongst other things, called for a new approach in the way facilities are designed to deliver better services in a more cost effective way. The report Restarting Britain 2: Design and Public Services was the result of an eight-month investigation led by the Design Commission along with politicians, designers and civil servants.

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Employers want default retirement age back finds survey

DRA

Nearly half (47 per cent) of employers surveyed by global law firm Eversheds would like the Default Retirement Age (DRA) reinstated. Two years ago, on 6 April 2011, the Government changed the law to start phasing out the DRA. While the overwhelming majority (97 per cent) say their organisation no longer operates a mandatory retirement age, many report that the change in the law has had negative effects for their organisation: two-thirds cited difficulties in succession planning whilst just under half reported that opportunities were being blocked for younger workers. More →

Will an upturn spark a revival of interest in the idea of employer branding?

Employer brandingYou may recall that a few years ago there was a voguish interest in the idea of employer branding. This is the kind of thing that has always gone on but can always be defined and popularised,  in this case following the publication of a book on the subject in 2005. By 2008 Jackie Orme, the head of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, was calling it ‘an integral part of business strategy’. Still, it appears to have dropped off the radar a bit over the last few years, a fact we might put down to the effect of the recession. Firms certainly seem to have their mind on other things. Research published last year by PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed that  in 2009, 54 per cent of businesses said they placed a special focus on retaining talent. By 2012 that had dropped to 36 per cent.

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London’s Fit Cities event explores architecture and wellness

435x200_Fit_Cities

London is host this week to an event that brings together architects, planners, designers, developers, and public health professionals to explore how building design and policy decisions can make communities healthier, helping prevent diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. The Greater London Authority is holding the event in the wake of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to explore how active design principles were applied to the events and their legacy and to hear how plans are developing around major events coming up in Sochi, Glasgow and Rio de Janeiro.

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Half of workers feel pressured to come to work when ill

 

Staff ill health

You’ve nearly made it through the week and feel like rewarding yourself with a duvet day? Think again, the more realistic picture is you’ve a horrible virus but have staggered into work regardless, rather than risk the wrath of a disbelieving boss. New research this week found that nearly half of all workers feel pressurised to come into work by their line manager when they are ill. “Under Pressure” from Adecco Retail also found that far from “shirking from  home”, a third of the 1,000 people interviewed (31 per cent) feel expected to carry on working from home even when sick.

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Ageing population is the greatest demographic challenge

Image credit: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/photo_2475828_old-hands-on-clean-table.html'>logoboom / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Forget Gen Y, a new report published today by the House of Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change warns that it’s our rapidly ageing population that will have a huge impact on society, work and public services. Predicting a 50 per cent rise in the number of those aged 65+ and a 100 per cent increase in those aged 85+ between 2010 and 2030, the report advocates enabling people to work for longer, many of whom are legally entitled to do, since the removal of a statutory retirement age in 2011. According to the report, “Ready for Aging?” working for longer would increase income from work, potentially increase savings, and reduce the time of dependence on those savings.

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Employers managing multigenerations of staff “in the dark”

GRiD age research

The  latest example from a plethora of surveys is published today to add more fuel to the suspicion that “Generation Y NOT ME?” either needs slapping down or is being grossly misrepresented. “The Workplace Revolution”, by recruiter Adecco Group reports that half of those aged 34 and under – Generation Y – (47 per cent) want a promotion every two years, compared to just a fifth (22 per cent) of UK workers as a whole. But the report also warns that employers that fail to engage, motivate and retain their best employees across all ages risk damaging productivity and competitiveness.

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