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The weekly Insight newsletter is now available to view online

wandpcoverIn the latest edition of the weekly Insight newsletter, now available to view online; Mark Eltringham describes some of the most readily identifiable themes at this year’s 100% design, while Sara Bean hails Richard Branson’s adoption of a flexible working policy for his personal staff. The British Council for Offices (BCO) launches the much awaited new edition of its Specification Guide; a new report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) claims “overwhelming evidence” that office design significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of staff; and research by Steelcase discovers nearly a third (31%) of occupants now routinely leave the office to get work done in private. Justin Miller discusses the challenge of balancing sustainable building design with the need to ensure a comfortable workplace; and from the latest issue of Work&Place, the journal we publish in partnership with Occupiers Journal, Dr. Agustin Chevez lists the thirteen ways the physical environment shapes knowledge management .

BCO study finds office remains the best place to do business

BCO study finds office remains the best place to do businessThe challenge for the typical office is that it is meant to satisfy a broad range of individuals and a variety of working practices; which means what some may describe as a distracting open-plan layout, others would view as a busy collaborative workspace. These conflicts are highlighted in a new study by the British Council for Offices (BCO), Morgan Lovell and Hatch, which surveyed 2,000 UK office workers’ working conditions, attitudes and expectations. For example while over two thirds were critical of the distractions of the open-plan office, nine out of ten employees believe that support from colleagues enhances their wellbeing. Putting aside the open-plan debate, the study espouses the continued importance of the office as the best place to do business and comes up with three key starting points to help employers create a culture of wellbeing: care; control and collaboration. More →

Where office workers would really like to work? Outdoors.

office workers outdoorsLast year, we shared research from Overbury which suggested that what most people really wanted from their offices was for them to be a lot more like Starbucks. Now new research from Steelcase Solutions claims that what people would really like is to be working in bucolic splendour, or at least an indoor approximation of it. The survey of around 800 UK based office workers carried out by IPSOS claims that people would feel more optimistic about their work if natural light, more control of temperatures and informal, dynamic spaces were core elements of their working environments, which coincidentally are also important factors in fostering wellness and productivity. In addition, the authors of the report  claim that more offices in future will apply biophilic design principles to offer staff a daily glimpse (or illusion) of the great outdoors. More →

Homeworking has environmental benefits, says Carbon Trust

Environmental and cost benefits of homeworking

There have been some doubts cast recently on the environmental benefits of flexible working. At the recent ThinkFM conference, Lord Rupert Redesdale, the CEO Energy Managers Association said that keeping buildings open for longer to accommodate flexible workers could become unfeasible for many businesses. But what if you simply increase the numbers of home workers instead? Homeworking reduces employee commuting, resulting in carbon, money and time savings. If office space is properly rationalised to reflect this, homeworking can also significantly reduce office energy consumption and rental costs. This is according to new research from the Carbon Trust, which found that if adopted and encouraged by employers across the country, homeworking could result in annual savings of over 3 million tonnes of carbon and cut costs by £3 billion.

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Video: one of the keys to a productive workplace: micro-organisms?

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The quest for the answer to what makes us productive at work is an endless one, of course. Partly this is due to misleading research claims from suppliers that the provision of a specific product will increase productivity by x per cent. But mostly it’s because the answers shift from case to case and over time because while we can identify the factors that make people more productive, it’s harder to pin down the effects of their interrelationships. Plant walls and better seating won’t by themselves improve the performance of somebody who hates their job. Nevertheless, it’s important to design all the productivity factors into a building, including at a bacterial level according to Jessica Green who here explores the impact of microbes in different areas of an office building.

Employers vastly underestimate savings of freeing up desks

Employers vastly underestimate savings of freeing up desks

Green economy

The latest salvo in the flexible working debate is a study which reveals that despite potential savings of around £34bn by freeing up desk space and working more flexibly, the majority of UK business leaders grossly underestimate what it is possible to save with two out of three (65 per cent) insisting they can’t lose any desks. According to a Vodafone UK survey one in five of those  surveyed thought that their employees remained rooted to the old principle that all employees should have their own desk space (21 per cent) and flexible working ultimately leads to employees taking advantage of the system (23 per cent).

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Cabinet for Core Cities looks to reshape the English economy

A newly formed Cabinet of Core Cities met for the first time in Liverpool on Friday, seeking to reshape England and call on the Government to work with it to maximise the economic potential of the regions by creating a more balanced economic structure for the country and develop policies that would create jobs and investment. The cities represent the urban centres of Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Sheffield.

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