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The most read stories on Insight in 2013

Apple 11It’s been one year since Insight first hit the digital streets and it’s been fascinating to see what people have been most interested in. One of the great things about online publishing is you cannot escape from what people think. Printed trade magazines can tell you they send out 12,000 copies or whatever, but they can’t tell you whether the recipients are interested enough to read them or share their contents. Online, that is all made transparent. So it’s been great to start a publication that after just a few months was demonstrably the UK’s most widely read title covering workplace design and management issues. We even know what people like the most. So here, in no particular order, are our most widely read stories from 2013, ranging from the technical to the esoteric, news stories, case studies, the bursting of bubbles and the challenges to received wisdom.

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Business leaders’ taskforce presents Govt with bright ideas to cut EU red tape

Cut EU red tape, advises influential business leaders' taskforce A Government-appointed taskforce, which comprises six leading business figures, including M&S Chief Executive Marc Bolland, and Kingfisher CEO Ian Cheshire has presented the Cabinet with 30 ways of cutting back EU regulations that it says are holding back European businesses. According to the report, ‘Cut EU red tape’, the EU should promote enterprise and boost growth by sweeping away “poorly understood and burdensome rules and preventing similarly pointless legislation in the future”. The proposals, which followed a consultation with 100 businesses across Europe, says that cutting unnecessary and time-consuming health and safety regulations could save EU businesses around €2.7 billion, while reforming employment law would free up firms to create more jobs. More →

The latest issue of Insight newsletter is now available to view online

Oof for newsletterIn our weekly newsletter, Insight, now available to view online; a preview [pictured] of 100% Design, (Earl’s Court 18 -21 Sept) featuring the latest designs from some of the world’s most progressive suppliers of office products; BCO research into the way space and budgets within buildings are allocated; how widespread adoption of BYOD can leave organisations’ data vulnerable; confusion amongst FMs at to what BIM actually does; and advice on compiling a list of the world’s coolest offices. Andrew Mawson argues it’s still possible to deliver a pleasurable and effective workplace whilst achieving economic objectives; and reflecting on the BBC Head of HR’s grilling at the hands of the Public Accounts Committee, Simon Heath asks would your business bear the same scrutiny unscathed?

Research reveals UK’s shrinking workplace space standards and regional disparities

Alice growingThe latest Occupier Density Study from the British Council for Offices reveals that London and the South East of England have some of the most spacious workplaces in the UK, in spite of the fact that London has the most expensive office space on Earth. The BCO research found that the South West has the highest density at 8.6 sq. m. per workstation while London (11.3 sq. m.) and the South East (12.7 sq. m.) have lower densities than all UK regions apart from Wales (11.4 sq. m.). Yet recent research from Cushman and Wakefield has identified London as the world’s most expensive city to rent office space and a report last week from BNP Paribas revealed the large disparities in total occupancy costs between London and the rest of the UK.

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Construction sector is digging its way out of recession

Construction sector is digging its way out of recession

The UK’s Employment Outlook is looking firmly positive, according to ManpowerGroup, and it’s being driven by an upturn in construction and a buoyant London economy. “As we head into the summer months, the UK jobs market is not too hot, but not too cold either. It’s all about the Three ‘C’s:  Construction, the Capital, and Consistency,” said ManpowerGroup UK Managing Director, Mark Cahill. The first ‘C’ is for Construction, the most improved sector this quarter, up by five points, which is positive news as construction has been a huge drag on the whole UK economy, and is one of the main reasons we’ve had a double dip recession. Now ManpowerGroup reports it is starting to see rising demand for skills across the board, particularly in skilled trades and engineers. More →

Will the Great Trade Association Merger have any impact on office design?

Ceci n'est pas un bureauAnybody who has been working in and around the facilities management sector for any length of time will know that the FM profession/discipline (delete as appropriate) regularly undergoes protracted periods of existential angst about its role. It strikes me however that this is actually quite an easy question to deal with because the answer is the same as it is for similarly amorphous professions such as marketing. It all seems to depend on who you are and what you are trying to do. That’s the twist. The average facilities manager, like the Urban Spaceman, doesn’t exist. I might think that but it won’t stop the associations and institutes currently working together to establish a new super-body for FM in the UK having to continue the debate.

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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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Balfour Beatty profits warning cites challenging construction sector

Balfour Beatty construction

Building and infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty has issued its second profits warning in six months, with the announcement that its UK construction business is expected to deliver significantly lower profits than expected this year.  The company said the UK construction market has been a challenging environment in which to win and execute work, adding: “Market conditions which deteriorated significantly in the second half of 2012 continue to be difficult. Change in procurement trends, which we have previously highlighted have persisted, allowing customers to impose increasingly stringent conditions onto contractors.”

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Office furniture ergonomics standard for increasing size of U.S. workers

Larger U.S. workers

The U.S. furniture manufacturer’s association the BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association) has revised its ergonomics guidance to “reflect changes in the size and shape of the North American working population,” This includes increased seat width, distance between armrests, support surface height for sitting and standing, and height clearance for legs and knees. It’s also developing a new “Heavy Occupant Chair Standard”.  Although the BIFMA cannot be faulted for responding to consumer demand, the renewed guidance doesn’t address the core of the problem – the fact that over a quarter of U.S. workers (approximately 66 million people) are obese.

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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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