Search Results for: environments

Design Museum Awards: the buildings may be accessible, but the language isn’t

UC Innovation CentreOne of the fundamental challenges when asked to offer a critique of something is that you may find that you actually like a great deal of what you are presented with. And this is precisely the challenge offered up by the shortlist for The Designs of the Year awards, organised annually by London’s Design Museum to honour work “that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year”. It would be churlish indeed to take issue with projects that seek to address the provision of education in deprived areas; remove pollutants from the air and from the oceans; advance technological solutions to help people with impaired sight or mobility and improve sanitation to eliminate the diarrhoea which kills approximately 1.8 million people annually, primarily children under the age of 5.

More →

Development of urban infrastructure held back by city leaders

Urban infrastructureThe main obstacles to the implementation of urban infrastructure are those raised by the organisations and people who do most to champion them. That is the standout finding of a new report, Urban Infrastructure Insights 2015, published by the Economic Intelligence Unit and FCC Group. The survey of more than 400 business leaders and policy makers worldwide found that a majority believe the greatest impediment to the development of urban infrastructure is a lack of will and skill amongst civic leaders and officials. Lack of political will was cited by 40 percent of respondents, alongside a lack of skills among officials (39 percent), and poor governmental effectiveness (34 percent). Lack of funds was cited by 34 percent. Policy makers were especially scathing about city leaders with more than half citing their lack of skills and knowledge.

More →

How well designed office hives can foster swarm intelligence

sourceimageA beehive in your back-garden is hardly ideal, nor is stumbling across an ants’ nest while searching for a picnic spot. However, these swarms have become the inspiration for a revolutionary new way of working. Swarm intelligence describes how a group of people find effective solutions to difficult problems and their ability to adapt automatically to changing environments and work as a team of equals. To get the full benefits of swarm intelligence, we need to make sure that our offices have areas where staff can collaborate. There can be no rigid structures or process chains that ideas have to go through. The flow of knowledge shouldn’t be restricted. It should be allowed to flood through our businesses and offices and take no account of whether the people sharing knowledge, ideas and opinions have been with a company for five days or five years.

More →

Good communication is essential to ensure workplace health and safety

health and safetyLast week the HSE marked its 40th anniversary with a series of warnings about the continuing importance of maintaining health and safety. While the number of people killed at work has fallen dramatically since the HSE was launched, it’s important employers don’t get complacent. A lack of education among the workforce about the adequate measures to take when considering health and safety can still make a huge difference. Good communication is vital, so provide in depth, yet cohesive and easy to follow Health and Safety guides, including useful information like fire blanket locations, fire exits, what to do in an emergency and emergency phone numbers which are handed out to all employees. Regular talks about the importance of health and safety should be conducted every few months to reiterate health and safety messages.

More →

Can the workplace environment change an organisation’s culture?

Woolverine02 workplace It is rare that organisations are totally satisfied with their current culture. They will often see what can be improved and at the same time recognise that these improvements will inevitably stem from a change in behaviour or the attitude of their employees. What is important to remember is that a change in the design of the physical environment will not, by itself, change the culture of an organisation. But workplace design can reflect the desired culture of the organisation, and help to promote certain behaviours and attitudes. It can also help to reinforce the unique attributes of your organisation in a powerful, subliminal way. Culture results from the values and behaviours of employees and is best understood by the relationships internally between individuals, teams and departments. Culture can also be seen through relationships externally with customers, suppliers and stakeholders

More →

CBRE identifies priorities for facilities management excellence

Three priorities for operational excellence in FM identifiedTo achieve operational excellence in facilities management, organisations must balance three priorities: managing costs efficiently and creating value; maintaining high satisfaction among occupants and clients; and proactively stewarding property and infrastructure. Forging the Iron Triangle: Facility Management Operational Excellence, is a new report by the CBRE’s Global Corporate Services research team and the result of a year-long inquiry into mainly US-based facility management organisations, industry scholarship, and an industry-wide survey of more than 125 facility management executives. It reveals the initiatives that have a lasting impact on facilities management team performance and the reduction of risk, increasing workplace satisfaction and extending the useful life of properties or building infrastructure. Talent management, risk management and life cycle cost analysis are also found to be prevalent in high performing FM teams.

More →

Interruptions and a lack of engagement cost UK firms £15 bn each year

engagementUK businesses are suffering massive losses in company performance due to ‘disengaged’ employees who complain of working conditions that result in constant distraction and disruption and a lack of privacy, according to a new report published by office furniture maker Steelcase. Research by the Centre for Mental Health claims that presenteeism (at work physically but unproductive mentally) costs UK businesses £15bn per year and that includes the cost of disengaged employees. A new IPSOS survey commissioned by Steelcase, claims to highlights this and related issues. The survey of 10,500 employees working in open plan offices across 14 different countries and found that only 11 percent of workers are engaged and inspired at work, 63 percent lack engagement and are unmotivated and 37 percent describe their workplace as ‘stressful’. More →

Unethical behaviour at work may reflect a blame culture with little trust or integrity

Unethical behaviour at work can reflect a blame culture In the same week Mind revealed that many workers are reluctant to admit to feeling stressed, comes data which shows high levels of unethical behaviour in Britain’s workplaces. And the two pieces of research are not unrelated. In a survey of over 1,600 managers by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), almost three quarters (72%) had witnessed employees lying to cover their mistakes, with the same number reporting their colleagues cut corners and delivered substandard work. A further 68% had seen people badmouthing team members behind their backs. The fault lies in workplaces that foster a blame culture, where staff are worried about owning up to mistakes. This causes undue stress and people taking a combative, rather than collaborative approach. The findings formed part of ILM’s The truth about trust’ report into trust and integrity in the UK workplace, which highlights the business benefits of high-trust high-integrity working environments. More →

Two new reports claim firms and employees are out of step on flexible working

flexible workingThe two latest stones to be tossed into the flexible working maelstrom in the hope of creating a ripple both suggest that employers are out of step with the expectations of their staff when it comes to working hours and conditions. The CIPD launched a new report Getting Smart About Agile Working, at the start of its annual conference in Manchester on 5 November which claims that a third (35 percent) of employees would like to change their working arrangements with nearly half (43 percent) saying they would most like to change the start or finish time of their working day. Meanwhile a separate report from BUPA claims that half of employees of SMEs think their employees underestimate the part that benefits including flexible working have to play in the overall feel of the company, and a similar number (51 percent) believe that not offering such benefits damages an employer’s attractiveness to new recruits.

More →

BIM adoption set to soar in UK and US over next two years, claims report

BIM Level 2Building owners are embracing building information modelling (BIM) as a powerful technology benefitting the design process, managing project schedules, controlling costs and minimizing project errors, according to the recent McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report “The Business Value of BIM for Owners”. The latest report focuses on the business value of BIM from the perspective of building owners in the United States and United Kingdom for whom the technology has been deployed. Initially adopted as a design tool and later evolving into an important tool for contractors, its adoption among building owners is expanding, the report claims, and that building owners are becoming more directly involved as “their power is even greater to align BIM use with their specific goals, engage more effectively with all stakeholders and extend the value of BIM beyond construction into facility management.” The study claims that 40 percent of US owners and 38 percent of UK owners expect that more than 75 percent of their projects will involve the technology in just two years.

More →

Majority of UK SMEs believe technology can help rebalance the economy

North south divideThe UK’s small and medium sized businesses believe that the regional divide in the economy can be bridged to a large extent by technology, according to a new report from Brother UK. According to the report, Regional Attitudes to Growth and Competitiveness, carried out in conjunction with Cardiff University and based on a survey of 600 SMEs around the country, over half (57 percent) believe technology was the key driver of their region’s competitiveness and only one in ten say the competitiveness of their region has declined since the start of the recession. Over two thirds (71 percent) believe technology can improve regional competitiveness and slightly more (73 percent) believe it’s possible to service customers and clients across multiple regions efficiently from their current location. The survey also claims that because each company spends an average of 244 working days a year on business travel and the UK has the second highest annual business travel spend of any Western European nation, despite its comparatively small size, many firms are turning to technology to enhance their competitiveness.

More →

No natural light in almost half of European offices, finds report


Almost half (42%) of European office employees have no natural light in their working environment, over half (55%) don’t have access to any greenery and 7 per cent have no window in their workspace. Yet according to the findings of The Human Spaces Report, commissioned by Interface and led by Organisational Psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, European employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 13 per cent higher level of well-being and are 8 per cent more productive overall. With nearly two-thirds (63%) of EMEA office workers now based in either a town or city centre and spending on average 34 hours per week in the office, their interaction with nature is becoming increasingly limited. Yet despite city dominated lives, the research found workers have an inherent affinity to elements that reflect nature. Flexible working was a surprisingly low preference, with just 11 per cent of workers choosing a space that suits their needs as their productive way to work.. More →