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Female-friendly employers named as progress of women in boardrooms stalls

Top 50 Employers for Women named

In an interview this week on BBC’s Newsnight, Facebook’s CFO Sheryl Sandberg, revealed how she’d come to notice a growing gender imbalance as she moved up the corporate ladder. As her new book Lean in, points out, 30 years after women became 50 per cent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions. This is just one of many reasons why the publication this week of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women list of the UK organisations that are leading the way in gender equality in the workplace is to be welcomed.

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Abu Dhabi continues to create new offices, despite current oversupply

Abu DhabiA new report from Jones Lang LaSalle into the property market in Abu Dhabi claims that although the Emirate is committed to investing in the development of new commercial property, there is already a serious oversupply of offices in the region. Vacancy rates already stand at over a third (37 per cent) with increases expected as new developments become available. Around 1 million sq. m. of new office space is set to be developed in Abu Dhabi between now and 2015, increasing the total commercial building stock by a quarter. The JLL report claims that this oversupply is suppressing rents. Grade A properties now yield about 40 per cent of what they did at their peak in the final quarter of 20008 while Grade B space also continues to see falls in its yield.

Video: how we need to break with the past to optimise what we do now

Video: how we need to break with the past to optimise what we do now

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Dave Coplin, the ‘Chief Envisioning Officer’ at Microsoft, explores with the RSA how we might apply technology in new ways to transform the way we work. He starts with a look at how we are constrained by the past, with the example of the QWERTY keyboard which was originally developed to slow typists down to stop keys jamming but is still the de facto input method for typists over a century later. Obviously there are very good commercial reasons why technology companies need to ‘envision’ this new world of flexible working but it’s an engaging presentation and honest enough when he argues against our obsession with specific aspects of work such as email at the expense of others.

Report claims empty offices could provide 11,500 homes

Empty officesAccording to new research from Lambert Smith Hampton, there is nearly 12m sq. ft of obsolete office space in the UK’s regional markets which the firm estimates could yield as much as 7.4m sq. ft. of space suitable for conversion to residential use under the Government’s controversial new planning rules. The researchers claim that this equates to approximately 11,500 new homes. The government has relaxed the planning systems in the UK to encourage developers to shift the use of space although critics have argued that this may serve to distort the market for property in some areas as residential properties are potentially more lucrative than commercial properties.

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The latest edition of the Insight newsletter is now online

2.Insight_twitter_logo smThe April 10 edition of the Insight newsletter is now available to view online covering a range of themes from commercial property to ergonomics, human resources to workplace technology, office design to legislation, all done with the usual verve and willingness to tackle issues in a genuinely engaging and unique way. Office Insight is already the most widely read publication in the UK dedicated to workplace design and management with up to 1,000 unique readers daily. The online newsletter is available to read here and it’s quick and easy to subscribe through the main website if you don’t receive a copy already.

Employers missing employee health and productivity link

Employers missing health & productivity link

Only a minority of employers understand the productivity benefits of their health and wellbeing initiatives, new research reveals. Towers Watson’s latest Health, Wellbeing and Productivity survey found that 66 per cent of employers thought the link between health and employee performance was a relatively limited part of their health and wellbeing programme, with the main drivers being the desire to be seen as a responsible employer and the need to focus on more preventative health measures to manage rising healthcare and disability costs. More →

What Tesco’s move into a Clerkenwell office tells us about how it sees itself

Tesco logoIf Tesco ever wants to update its three word strapline from Every Little Helps, it could plump for something more accurate such as We Own You. Unless Facebook or Google register it first, of course. The news this week that the extensively diversified retailer is to set up an office for its digital operations in the heart of one of the UK’s Technology Media and Telecoms (TMT) hothouse in Clerkenwell tells us a great deal about how it sees its operations in this area. The move will not only help Tesco to recruit staff in and around the Tech City area of East London, but sets a marker for how it views its place in the scheme of things.

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UK construction activity slips again, but at a slower rate

-- with crane and scaffoldingAccording to the latest Markit/CIPS monthly survey of purchasing managers in the construction industry, output in the sector decreased once more in March but at the slowest rate since October of last year.  The seasonally adjusted Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) which measures overall output in the sector,  was calculated at  47.2 during March, up from 46.8 in February. Scores below 50 are deemed to indicate a contraction in the market. The reduced output was put down to a combination of subdued underlying demand and unusually bad weather.

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We shape the world’s cities, then they shape us

UrbanisationThe story of the world’s cities is often told not in words but in numbers. This is especially the case with the megacities – those with a  population in excess of 10 million – which obtain enough critical mass not only to produce eye boggling statistics but also to distort the fabric of whole regions and change the way people live and behave. This is true for the established megacities of London, New York and Tokyo as well as the emerging global metropolises in Sao Paolo, Beijing, Mumbai, Shanghai, Cairo and Istanbul. It is also increasingly true for cities many people have never heard of.

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RIBA reports positive picture for architects and construction sector

RIBAThe latest Future Trends Survey by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is showing a more positive picture for the architect profession and the wider construction sector. The RIBA’s Workload Index for February 2013 stands at +16, the third consecutive monthly increase, and has now remained in positive territory since November 2012 which continues to suggest improved confidence amongst architects regarding their future growth prospects. RIBA practices report that overall actual workloads remained stable throughout 2012, following falls in every calendar year from 2009 until 2011.

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Call for budget to help construction sector growth

The Treasury

Leading environmental and building construction bodies are calling on the Government to help grow the built environment in next week’s budget. The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) is urging the Chancellor to use the Budget 2013 to demonstrate the Coalition’s commitment to energy efficiency as a key driver of green growth and provide a boost to the construction sector. And in a list of requests, RICS asks the government to visibly promote public sector construction contracts, meaning smaller firms across the UK are aware of projects and able to directly bid for work.

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Where flexible working employees really want to work? Starbucks.

Starbucks CafeLeaving aside the fact that most surveys are designed to further the commercial interests of the firms that commission them, most offer a deal of insight into what drives people and organisations, some of it unwitting. Most telling are often the specific details that lift the veil on the motivations and attitudes of individuals. So it was with a recent survey from Overbury that headlined on the idea that poorly designed offices hamper creativity, but also contained a question that was answered in a way which suggested that the place most staff would like to work would be something akin to their local Starbucks.

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