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Keep up! new “megatrends” could have dramatic impacts on the world of work

new megatrends could have dramatic impacts on the world of work

We are all aware to some extent or other of the ways in which work has changed significantly over the past few decades, but are employers sufficiently aware of, or prepared for, the future trends that will shape the way we work and the performance of our organisations and economies into the future? This is the question posed by HR body the CIPD in a major new discussion document Megatrends: The trends shaping work and working lives” as it launches a debate on the “megatrends” that are likely to shape the world of work, the workforce and the culture and organisation of workplaces over the next decade.

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Corporate Real Estate executives predict strong global economic outlook

The global economic outlook is strong for the second half of 2013, while the prospects for corporate growth and expansion are also increasing, according to the views of corporate executives surveyed in June for the new CoreNet Global Confidence Index. Nearly two-thirds (62.5%) rated their outlook on the global economy for the coming six months as optimistic to very optimistic, compared to a year ago. Most (72.4%) reported the likelihood that flexible, open workplace strategies will increase, while space per work setting and/or work settings per supported worker will be reduced.

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Fall in sickness absence rates, but mental ill health still major cause

 Sickness absence falls but mental ill health and stress still a problem

Mental health conditions are the single most widespread cause of long-term absence, with more than half (54 per cent) of employers citing non-work related stress, anxiety and depression as a cause of long-term absence. On a more positive note, according to the latest CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey out today, overall absence from work in the UK has dropped to a new record low. The thirty-year survey found the average absence rate was 5.3 days in 2012, down from 6.5 days in 2010 – saving business £3 billion. However, the report, Fit for Purpose, found overall absences still cost the economy £14 billion a year, according to the ONS. Almost £1.8 billion was lost from an estimated one-in-eight sick days taken for non-genuine reasons, with one in five employers believing employees take “sickies” as an occasional perk. While absence rates in both the public and private sector were down to 6.9 (from 8.1) and 4.9 (from 5.9) days respectively, the report argues more than £1.2 billion a year could be saved if public sector absence levels were brought in line with the private sector average – on top of the £700 million saved from the fall since 2010.

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The challenge in Silicon Alley is providing the right quantity and quality of office space

M4 Silicon AlleyNews emerges from BNP Paribas that the most dynamic occupiers in Western European property markets belong to the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sector and that the most important market in the region is London. This comes as no surprise given the plans of Google to move to its new home in King’s Cross and the focus on developments in Tech City. But the same hothousing of TMT businesses is also evident in the area Prime Minister David Cameron has referred to as Silicon Alley, a cluster of businesses running alongside the M4 originally clustered between Reading and Swindon but now extending as far as Bristol. Companies that have found a home in the area include the likes of Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Ericsson, Vodafone, O2, Citrix, Dell, Huawei, Lexmark, LG, Novell, Nvidia, Panasonic, SAP and Symantec not to mention the countless other smaller businesses, consultants and freelancers that share this hothouse.

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BIFM partnership with DWP may prove an ill-advised and short-lived union

Las Vegas WeddingRather like someone who collects friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter with the obsessiveness of the avid lepidopterist completist, news reaches us from the British Institute of Facilities Management concerning yet another partnership. Not content with the recently announced merger with Asset Skills, the Facilities Management Association and the Cleaning and Support Services Association, this time it’s the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) that is the object of BIFM’s affections. Not that BIFM are considering moving in to Caxton House and a run for Parliament in 2015 (at least not that we are aware of). But while BIFM are, understandably, trumpeting the signing of this joint agreement, the DWP are not. In fact, if one searches on www.gov.uk using the search terms “BIFM” or “British Institute of Facilities Management” no results are returned.

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BIFM and DWP announce facilities management partnership agreement

LinkThe British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) is building on its recent track record of building new alliances with the announcement that it has signed a partnership agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The partners claim the new agreement will see the BIFM and DWP working in unison to support future growth in the facilities and workplace management sector.  The agreement was signed at the end of last week by Mark Hoban MP, Minister of State for Employment, Gareth Tancred, CEO of BIFM and Martin Brown, Work Services Director for Wales and Employers, Department for Work and Pensions. The joint statement from the BIFM and DWP claims that the partnership agreement will drive ‘a shared agenda on increasing routes into and raising skills and professionalism of all those working in the facilities and workplace management industry’.

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Arup hailed for positive example of employee ownership scheme

Arup hailed for positive example of employee ownership scheme

Arup Global Chairman, Philip Dilley has said that the firm’s employee ownership ethos has played a major part in attracting and motivating staff and high levels of employee engagement. His comments followed a visit by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and Minister for Employment Relations, Jo Swinson, to Arup HQ this week as part of a series of activities to celebrate Employee Ownership Day across the UK. The Government’s scheme has had a rough ride, with critics branding it “company shares for employment rights”. Although this has resulted in some major changes to the scheme, Cable maintains it is a positive alternative to traditional shareholder capitalism which had led to the “persistent problem” of short-term planning. More →

Designs unveiled for new Google London headquarters in King’s Cross

Detailed plans have been submitted for the design of the new Google London headquarters building in King’s Cross. The 1 million sq. ft scheme designed by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris does not exceed 11 storeys at any point and will be home to up to 4,500 employees, double the company’s current London workforce and potentially making it the largest Google operation outside of New York.  The scheme is part of a wider development of Kings Cross and will incorporate 750,000 sq. ft. of office space with 50,000 sq. ft. of shops and cafes.  Current employees will relocate from three existing buildings in the capital.  Subject to approval for the detailed design from Camden Council, who have already granted planning permission,  work will begin on the site next year with completion set for 2016-2017.

Google is evidently keen to emphasise its investment in the UK, following weeks of criticism of its tax affairs from the media and politicians. Dan Cobley, Google UK’s managing director, in announcing the details of the development said: ‘Building our new headquarters in King’s Cross is good for Google and good for London.’ Certainly the deal is one of the biggest in recent years in the UK property industry, worth around £650 million and is expected by the developers to create 1,500 construction jobs and 35,000 new employment opportunities over all.

Some of the more interesting aspects of the proposed design are:

  • The primary way for workers to move between floors will be stairs rather than lifts as the firm looks to challenge the sedentary workstyles of staff. No news yet on any wretched slides.
  • The building is designed as a ‘groundscraper’ eschewing London’s recent trend for tall buildings, but is larger than the Shard at 1,083 ft long compared with the Shard’s 1,016 ft height.
  • Over two thirds (71 percent) of the office space are designated for workstations with the remainder set aside for meeting and breakout spaces, cafes and lobbies. Nearly half of the roof of the building will be landscaped.
  • The intention is to achieve a BREEAM outstanding accreditation.
  • The architects claims the design is inspired by the Victorian industrial heritage of the area and will act as a theatre in which the drama of Google’s business will unfold, but with stage settings that can change quickly and easily.

Commenting on the development, Simon Allford, of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, said: ‘This building is underpinned by cutting edge design intelligence and technologies to provide a sophisticated twenty first century working environment for Google’s staff. The architectural approach, which has taken inspiration from King’s Cross and St Pancras International railway stations, complements the local area’s strong industrial heritage and will be a building London can be proud of.’

UK and U.S. workers more likely to experience workplace bullying

The Coalition government has criticised “over-regulated” UK employment law, which it argues makes it difficult for employers to manage employees without risk of being sued for unfair treatment. Yet despite the perception that UK employees are overly-protected by employment regulations, a new global study of white collar bullying has revealed that workers are in fact more likely to experience bullying at the hands of their bosses if they work in the UK or the U.S. The country a company is based in has a direct effect on how much workplace bullying is accepted and the UK and the U.S. were among the countries with a “high performance orientation” valuing accomplishments, a sense of urgency and explicit communication. These countries, say the authors, may tolerate bullying if it is seen as a means to achieve better results. More →

Managing a work-life balance isn’t solely a women’s issue

Maintaining a work-life balance isn't solely a women's issue

Two reports published this week show that a cultural change is needed to stop employers assuming only female workers have families or other personal concerns that could impact on their workplace performance. A report into workplace equality by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BIS) has called on the UK Government to do more to tackle female underrepresentation in sectors of the economy and to dispel the myth that any type of flexible working is a ‘women’s issue,’  problematic and cannot work. In the US a study by employee assistance providers Bensinger, DuPont and Associates (BDA) into stress has found that men are more than twice as likely to receive formal disciplinary action when the stress of a personal problem impacts on their work performance. More →

Land Securities £260m development confirms City office confidence

Land Securities announcement today of a £260 million development of 1 & 2 New Ludgate, EC4, a speculative mixed-use development in the City of London confirms a growing confidence in the City office market. The 379,000 sq ft scheme occupies an island site near St Paul’s Cathedral and comprises two distinct buildings united by a new public piazza, which together aim to offer 346,000 sq ft of office accommodation set around open and green spaces. Colette O’Shea, Head of Development, London said: “Our decision to commence the speculative development of 1 & 2 New Ludgate reflects our confidence both in the City office market, where we believe supply of new space will be constrained in 2015, and in the quality of the attractive and highly efficient office space we are creating.” More →

Gender equality and senior roles where are we now?

Gender equality at senior management and Board level has been and is likely to remain an area of contention. According to recent research by analysts BoardEx into gender inequality in Britain’s top 100 private companies, 73 per cent of companies still have all male teams of executive directors, 51 per cent have only male non-executive directors and there are still 56 per cent of all male Boards. At the end of May a new National Equality Standard was launched by the CBI and the Equality and Human Rights Commission in response to the continued concerns about the issue, which some EU members have argued requires the imposition of mandatory board quotas.

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