Search Results for: people management

Looking back on a year in which the office sought a clearer sense of identity

JanusIt’s not often that workplace management becomes national business news but that happened at the end of February when  the world became very interested for a while in the way we design and manage offices. The reason for this was the decision by Yahoo to ban homeworking for staff at its headquarters.  The resultant period of shirt-rending at this challenge to received wisdom told us more about the changing view of the workplace than the actual decision by Yahoo. As the dust settled, we discovered that the Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer had based her decision to change working practices on data from the company’s network that showed people working from home didn’t log on to the company Virtual Private Network as much as those in the office.

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Employers advised to take a more preventative approach on Stress Awareness Day

Employers encouraged to take a more preventative approach on Stress Awareness DayToday is national stress awareness day. According to the HSE stress accounted for a massive 40 per cent of all work-related illnesses last year, which resulted in a loss of 10.4 million working days. As well as being a major contributor to long term physical illnesses, including obesity, stress also contributes to poor workplace performance caused by lack of concentration. The financial cost to the UK has been estimated at £60 billion or about £1,000 per man, woman and child. Yet according to the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) most organisations tackle stress at the wrong end. They wait until someone becomes ill, and then start to provide services to improve their health. This is too late. More →

Interview: Greg Lindsay on engineering serendipity and harnessing chaos

Render of Plaza at Zappos offices in LA

Render of Plaza at Zappos offices in LA

Greg Lindsay is a journalist and urbanist. He is a contributing writer for Fast Company and co-author of the international bestseller Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next as well as a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute, and a research affiliate of the New England Complex Systems Institute. He is also one of the main speakers at this year’s Worktech conference in London on 19 and 20 November. In this frank and enlightening interview he offers his thoughts on how firms can engineer serendipity into their workplaces and cultures and how the way we design offices is already taking clues from the way we plan urban environments.

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There is very little about flexible working that is actually flexible

upside_down_officeIt’s pretty clear why some of the world’s greatest writers have been drawn to the human propensity for moral and linguistic inversions and subversions. Books like 1984, Catch 22 and A Clockwork Orange are predicated on the idea. And it’s not one limited to literature. If we look, we can see it going on all around us. In the field of workplace design and management we can see it in the use of the word ‘flexible’ as used in the phrase flexible working. This is a word that in this particular context is coming to mean something like its opposite.  According to a survey from YouGov, the 9 to 5 is a thing of the past, supplanted by a style of work labelled flexible but which involves a third of us working for over ten hours a day, many at home right up until the point we go to bed with a smartphone that sits by our side, to wake us with a beep and a wodge of new notifications the next morning.

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Workplace Trends conference justifies the workplace in a virtual world

In his lightning summary of five decades of the office at Workplace Trends 2013: Making it Work, which took place last week, architect Frank Duffy remarked on the challenge of justifying place in an increasingly virtual world. It’s never been easy to gauge the productivity of offices and knowledge workers – a conundrum the conference returned to throughout the day. Tim Oldman from the Leeman Index, which has gone some way to measure workplace effectiveness, revealed that only 53 per cent of 42,677 workers questioned had agreed their workplace enables them to work productively. Yet despite this, as most of the sessions of the day confirmed, the office is far from obsolete, and as a place for workers to congregate and collaborate, it remains king. More →

‘Beleaguered’ UK workforce is poorly motivated and unproductive

UK workers are lacking motivation and job satisfaction, with over half either feeling neutral or unhappy about going to work most days, only one in four very satisfied with their jobs and 20 per cent who dread going to work. According to a new report, ‘The Forgotten Workforce’ a series of blows to UK workers, including cuts to their working hours, increasingly inconsistent working patterns, pay freezes, and introduction of zero hours – coupled with little or no investment in technology to support employees – has led to a UK workforce lacking morale and disengaged from the business. An efficient business needs an efficient workforce. If this cycle continues, businesses will face increasingly poor productivity and the UK economic recovery will suffer warns the report. More →

‘Them and us’ mentality rife, as third of staff report low levels of trust in senior managers

Level of trust in senior managers not as high as they believeA counterproductive “them and us” mentality is being bred in too many of the UK’s workplaces, as more than one in three employees report that their level of trust in senior managers is weak (34%), According to the latest research by the CIPD, while an overwhelming majority report that they trust in their colleagues and line managers to some or a great extent (92% and 80% respectively), trust ratings increase with an employee’s seniority, with senior managers much more likely to report strong trust between employees and senior management than non-managerial workers. Creating a better level of trust isn’t difficult however, with the majority of employees pointing to simple and effective practices such as ‘approachable’, ‘competent’  and ‘consistent leaders’ who ‘act with honesty and integrity’ and ‘lead by example’. More →

Economic recovery, the changing psychological contract and the future of the office

display_img_01There has always been a link of one sort or another between the labour market and office design. So, as the UK’s unemployment statistics continue to fall, they remain moderately high and there continue to be structural changes in the nature of work, typified by this year’s debate about the growing use of zero hours contracts. You have to wonder what impact structural changes,  levels of unemployment and redundancy (around 4 million in the UK since 2008) have had on the way we manage and design our workplaces. There is no doubt that the downturn combined with the structural changes in the way we work have had an effect on demand for commercial property, but what will it all mean in the longer term?

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What happens in a designer’s mind and Mac can be very different to reality

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel

Social media is inarguably closing the gap between organisations and consumers of their services. Advances in the way we interrogate the opinions of building users are lifting the veil on some sharp practices in management and the negative impacts of poorly thought out design or badly executed installation of designs into the built environment. The positive impacts of this new, more open world are evident in changing attitudes to mental health and other wellness issues that affect us in the workplace. And it is becoming ever more evident in the response to a clear disconnect between what happens inside the designer or architect’s MacBook and its effect on the physical spaces with, and within which, we interact.

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Job satisfaction keeps employees motivated more than bonuses

Job satisfaction keeps employees motivated more than bonusesThe reported levels of stress felt by banking employees already suggests that generous bonuses do not necessarily equate loving the job. Now a new study published today by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) confirms that across the business sector, the single most effective motivator is job satisfaction (59%), with just 13 per cent saying the prospect of receiving a bonus or other financial incentive motivates them to work harder in their role. The survey of over 1,000 employees found that a competitive salary and a good pension are highly effective motivators (49%) but getting on with colleagues (42%) is nearly as important. The report also highlights how important good managers are to ensuring happy and motivated staff. More →

Workplace Week announces details of visits to London Government buildings

DfE London HQ

DfE London HQ

For the first time, Workplace Week includes visits to two Government offices, the Department for Education at Sanctuary Buildings in Great Smith Street (pictured) and the Department for International Development on Whitehall. The DfE is just a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament and boasts outstanding views of several major landmarks. The building is home to some 2,000 staff who work in a flexible environment with 7 desks for 10 people. The Department for International Development moved to its new London HQ, the oldest purpose-built office in London, at the beginning of the year. The DfID has created a modern, flexible environment which encourages collaborative working, whilst being sympathetic to the historic nature of the building.

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More employers than ever introduce some kind of flexible working pattern

More employers than ever introducing some kind of flexible working patterns

Disenchantment with flexible working appears to be ongoing in the tech sector, with a recent report revealing that computing giant HP is following Yahoo’s lead by quietly discouraging staff from working from home. However, more employers than ever are attaching growing importance to making at least some changes to working patterns as a means of managing rising long-term absence levels. In the annual CIPD / Simplyhealth Absence Management, the number of employers introducing small changes, such as later start times, has increased by 20 per cent in the last year alone. Over 70 per cent of organisations report a positive impact on employee motivation and employee engagement, while a further 46 per cent are using flexible working options to support employees with mental health problems. More →

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