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Universal application of open plan has led to global privacy crisis, claims report

open planA major new report from office furniture maker Steelcase claims that the universal provision of open plan offices means that organisations are facing an unprecedented privacy crisis with their employees. The claim is based on international research carried out by market researchers IPSOS and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase which found that a remarkable 85 percent of people are dissatisfied with their working environment and cannot concentrate. Nearly a third (31 percent) now routinely leave the office to get work done in private. The authors of the report claim that this does not mean a reversal of the decades long shift away from cellular offices but rather a move to create offices that offer a range of work settings to give people a choice of where and how to work. More than 10,000 workers across 14 countries were questioned about their office environments and working patterns.

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Indoor air quality and the quest for a breath of fresh air in the workplace

indoor air quality

Edward Hopper, Office in a Small City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

The modern workplace has to work harder than ever before. It must reflect corporate values, express something of the organisation’s brand, allow people to work to the best of their ability as well as look after their wellbeing, keep touch with the pace of changing technology and meet the demands of an ever changing legislative environment and keep costs down. All of these issues conflate around the challenge of providing a sustainable, comfortable and productive working environment in buildings that are filled with an increasing number of people and computers. It is estimated by the Building Research Establishment that even in a typical office each person and their technology will generate some 1500 W of energy per hour, the equivalent of the sort of fan heater that the EU is now keen to ban outright.

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How we travel to work has enormous impact on wellbeing, claims new research

wellbeing and cycling

Part of London’s planned cycling infrastructure around Parliament Square

New research has further highlighted the important role that the mode of transport we choose to get work has on our physical and psychological wellbeing. Walking or cycling to work is better for people’s mental health than driving to work, according to the research by health economists at the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR). The report ‘Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing?’ was published today in the journal Preventive Medicine and draws on 18 years of data from 18,000 people. It follows on the heels of two other reports published last month in the British Medical Journal and Science Direct which make related claims about the careful choices we should make about how we get to work.

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Report claims workplace fails to support employees with musculoskeletal disorders

musculoskeletal disordersWhen determining what constitutes a well-designed office, it’s easy to overlook the overriding need to ensure a workplace is designed first and foremost to be inclusive. Given the fact that musculoskeletal disorders remain the largest single cause of days of work lost due to sickness absence, it’s worrying to discover that many organisations fail to meet the needs of those dealing with such conditions. The new report ‘Self-management of chronic musculoskeletal disorders and employment’ from the Fit for Work UK Coalition and The Work Foundation found that despite sufferers’ efforts to remain at work, many are forced to ‘self-manage’ their condition without adequate support; with for instance an employee being forced to partake in a hot desk policy when they required their own, fixed workspace. As the report states, this lack of help is ‘all the more perverse’ when you take into consideration the role that work can play in helping to contribute to mental and physical wellbeing. More →

Third-place workspaces as well as flexible hours are key to success, says workplace provider

Flexible people and place is key to success argues workplace providerAs the summer holidays draw to an end, many working parents will be appreciative of the benefits of flexible working. Now new research from Regus has highlighted the long-term benefits of agile working in helping employers to attract and retain staff. Prospective employees are increasingly demanding some form of flexi-working deal, while nine out of ten employers report that offering flexible working options – including flexi-location as well as flexi-hours – is proving a highly effective way of improving staff morale and helping them to achieve a better work-life balance. While the workplace provider is understandably in favour of the flexi-location concept, as a provider of ‘third-place’ workspaces, for instance at railway stations, this kind of multi-location working is undoubtably growing in popularity More →

Flexible work arrangements are leading component of wellness policies globally

Flexible working policies leading component of wellness policies globallyIn the midst of the August summer holidays; it’s now more than ever that flexible working policies can benefit both employees and employers, so that those who need to get stuff done can get on with it without having to sit in a near empty office for form’s sake. So it comes as little surprise that in a new global survey, polices related to flexible work arrangements and paid time off rank as the number one component of wellness programs globally. According to “Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies,” the concept of wellness at work has evolved over the last seven years, moving from a focus on basic health promotion activities to a culture where seventy-eight per cent of the world’s employers are strongly committed to creating a workplace culture of health, to boost individual engagement and organizational performance. More →

The UK’s most common form of flexible working? Half of managers work an extra day a week

Flexible working?The UK’s most common yet one of the least talked about forms of flexible working has been laid bare in a new study from the Institute of Leadership and Management. It found that nearly half of managers work an extra day each week outside of their contracted hours, while an eighth put in an extra two days. More than 90 percent of managers now work outside normal office hours. The survey of 1,056 ILM members found that over three quarters (76 percent) ‘routinely’ work at home or stay late at work, over a third work at weekends and nearly half  (48 percent) regularly work through their lunch-break. The root causes of this are unsurprisingly familiar. The ILM cites technological presenteeism, with many managers ‘obsessively’ checking their phones for email, as well as pressure from employers to put in the extra hours.

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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 →

Physical workplace should provide an environment in which people can thrive

Physical workplace must provide an environment in which people can thriveIn 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.

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Workplace wellbeing increasingly incorporated into office design

Wellbeing considerations being incorporated into workplace designMore 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 →

Government plans encourage employers to appreciate older workers

Government plans encourage employers to appreciate older workersEmployers must recognise the potential of older workers and help them stay in the workplace. This is the message the Government will stress today at the launch of its new action plan. The new measures set out in Fuller Working Lives – A Framework For Action published today include; the appointment of a new Older Workers’ Employment Champion who will advocate the case for older workers within the business community and wider society; an extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees from the end of this month and the launch of a new Health and Work Service which the Government says will give workers with long-term health problems the support they need to stay in or return to work. Part of the Government’s aim is also to challenge outdated misconceptions and encourage more employers to consider the benefits of older workers.

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Goodbye 9-5: flexible working practices help retain and attract staff

flexible working connectors

Tech savvy connectors @ Oliver Preston

New ways of working are being fuelled by employees desire to take greater control of their lives. Over three-quarters (77%) of respondents in a survey by YouGov for Virgin Media Business said that remote working helps them address their work-life balance and almost four in five employees (78%) believe companies today need to offer it to attract and retain staff. As part of the research, psychologist Professor Cary Cooper reveals remote workers fall into four groups which range from ‘beginners’ to tech savvy ‘connectors.’ He stresses the need for employers to not only kit out their employees with the technology they need to work remotely, but also to educate them on flexible working best practice tips and guidelines because: “Ultimately this will help them ensure there is consistency across employees’ standard of work regardless of location, and will also ensure they remain as productive as possible.” More →

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