Search Results for: values

Indoor air quality and the quest for a breath of fresh air in the workplace

indoor air quality

Edward Hopper, Office in a Small City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

The modern workplace has to work harder than ever before. It must reflect corporate values, express something of the organisation’s brand, allow people to work to the best of their ability as well as look after their wellbeing, keep touch with the pace of changing technology and meet the demands of an ever changing legislative environment and keep costs down. All of these issues conflate around the challenge of providing a sustainable, comfortable and productive working environment in buildings that are filled with an increasing number of people and computers. It is estimated by the Building Research Establishment that even in a typical office each person and their technology will generate some 1500 W of energy per hour, the equivalent of the sort of fan heater that the EU is now keen to ban outright.

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Yet another report into the Future of Work that is really about the present

Future of WorkJust a few days ago, a survey from Morgan Lovell and the British Council for Offices highlighted the value British workers placed on having somewhere to work, regardless of its drawbacks, privations and distractions. Now a new report from consultants PwC seems to draw the opposite conclusion. Heralded by predictably tedious headlines declaring the office to be dead or dying, The Future of Work: A Journey to 2022 claims that a quarter of the 10,000 people surveyed believe the traditional job will disappear and around a fifth claim to have already had enough of the 9 to 5 in a fixed physical space and would prefer to work in a ‘virtual place’ – which seems to mean anywhere with WiFi.  As ever, any report addressing ‘The Future of Work’ is primarily and perhaps unwittingly about the present.

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Corporate social reponsibility remains a vital part of the business armoury

Corporate Social responsibilityThere is now an unstoppable energy for radical change in the way that companies of all sizes conduct their Corporate Social Responsibility duties. There are compelling economic and social reasons for companies to construct new ways of thinking and practice around CSR that go way beyond just doing something worthy or nice, from building effective partnerships to attracting top employees. Some companies prefer terms like ‘corporate responsibility’, ‘corporate conscience’, ‘corporate citizenship’, ‘social performance’, ‘sustainability’ or even ‘future-proofing’ over CSR. But the core CSR principles are that a business voluntarily commits to embracing responsibility for its actions and to impacting positively on the environment, on society and on consumers, employees and other stakeholders. More →

Virtually Uninspiring, Cautiously Aspirational – award winning offices for the VUCA world.

award winning officesWorld-of-work watchers will be more than aware that we are increasingly being informed that we are living in the VUCA age, which under normal circumstances is an acronym for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous but in the context of these RIBA Award Winners for 2014 might be taken in a number of other ways. Commentators and self-styled thought leaders are warning businesses to prepare for seismic changes to the way work gets done, where, how and by whom (or by what, if proponents of automation and robotics have anything to do with it). How lovely then, that RIBA have made awards to seven offices that hark back to more comforting, more halcyon, times. The text of the accompanying feature in Architects Journal is at pains to point out that offices are hard to design and that RIBA awards are hard won. I wouldn’t disagree on the former point but, from the evidence on show, it’s a bit more of a challenge to agree with the later. So I won’t.

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Trust in ethical behaviour is linked to the size of the business, claims report

Ethical behaviourThe larger the firm the less likely it is to trust its employees to behave ethically according to a new report from the Association of Accounting Technicians. The research also found that UK’s most ethical businesses are small architectural practices. According to the research, conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of AAT, only 37 per cent of SMEs trust their staff to do the right thing compared to 66 per cent of microbusinesses. The report also found that firms in the architectural sector have more faith in the ethical decision making of their employees and are more concerned about the ethical behaviour of suppliers than in any other industry. Interestingly, the report highlights the fact that, as the number of employees increases, businesses are more likely to dedicate a member of staff dedicated to fostering ethical behaviour and have a formal code of conduct.

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Workplace design, Facebook likes and the need of companies to be your friend

Facebook_like_thumbCompanies put an awful lot of time and money into getting people to like them on social media these days. While it would be easy to see the like button on Facebook as the primary conduit for this corporate neediness, but it cuts across many aspects of the ways in which companies work, including their relationships with employees and the ways in which they develop new forms of workplace design and management. This is most evident in the tech palaces which are aimed at the same digital natives that firms habitually target with their online marketing, but the need to make customers and employees friends of the business cuts across a wide range of sectors. The workplace is yet another channel of communicating chumminess, and it offers many of the same challenges as social media.

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Unprecedented rise in demand for commercial property outstrips supply

Supply-and-demandThere was a marked increase in demand for office space in the first quarter of this year. According to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) commercial property survey, tenant demand for commercial property rose at an unprecedented rate; with 52 per cent more surveyors polled reporting higher demand from clients for space. Proving that the recovery is no longer limited to the capital, this increased demand is being seen in all regions outside of London. However, demand for commercial property is fast outstripping supply, resulting in rising rents. Following four quarters of declining supply as suitable commercial space is snapped up – 30 per cent in this latest poll are reporting a further drop in the availability of office space, with expectations for rising rents at the highest level since before the financial crisis. More →

3XN chosen as preferred partner to design new Olympic HQ


3XN is also designing the DreamCenter

Danish firm 3XN has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as its preferred architectural partner for the design of the new IOC headquarters. It will be located on a 24.000 square metre site on the banks of Lake Geneva to provide an ‘Olympic campus’ of administrative buildings for 500 employees. The IOC announced its intention last year to regroup all its staff, currently spread throughout Lausanne at a number of sites; arguing a new HQ would result in substantial savings in rental fees, increased working efficiency and energy conservation. If the project, which is dependent on discussions and decisions with the relevant Swiss authorities goes ahead, it will add another building to a number of projects by 3XN for big international organizations such as the DreamWorks Animation DreamCenter complex [pictured] and the United Nations. More →

New data suggests that London no longer belongs to the UK, but the World

London at night

Image: London Snap

One of the subjects touched on in the first episode of Evan Davis’s BBC documentary series about the economic distinctions between London and the rest of the UK Mind the Gap was the impact of investment by the global super-rich into London property. At one point he asked the Malaysian investor behind the £8 billion Battersea Power Station redevelopment whether he’d considered investing in other cities in the UK. The response was a straight no, but the accompanying glance said rather more. London is no  longer a British city but one that belongs to the world, it said, so any comparison with Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff and Edinburgh is meaningless. You might disagree with this point of view, but a raft of new data appears to make it very evident indeed that London is now shaped by global plutocrats in a way that cannot be mirrored in the rest of the UK.

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Not just about the money. Higher wages do not improve employee retention

Money not the motivator, as higher wages does not improve employee retention

Employers that take a broader view of the employee experience beyond pay are more likely to retain talented employees. new research suggests. In a study of European economies by Towers Watson, countries with higher GDP growth tend also to have higher levels of employee attrition, The General Industry Compensation Survey Report findings also show little evidence to suggest that countries with high real-wage growth (i.e. salary increases minus inflation) are able to use that to secure higher levels of employee retention. The research proves that with the emergence of a strengthening employment market means employers will have to work harder to ensure that non-pay related benefits such as an attractive working environment and plenty of opportunities for career advancement are available to attract and retain talent. More →

US employees name top 50 firms to work for in 2014

American flag cakeConsultancy firm Bain & Company has topped the list of the 50 best places to work in the US. The top five companies in the annual Employees’ Choice Awards, compiled by careers specialist Glassdoor includes the three leading social media companies, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook, which came in fifth, just behind Eastman Chemical. The Employees’ Choice Awards rely solely on the input of employees who elect to provide feedback about their job, work environment and company, via Glassdoor’s anonymous online company review survey. Employees are asked to rate how satisfied they are with their company overall, how they feel their CEO is leading the company, as well as key workplace attributes like career opportunities, compensation and benefits, culture and values, senior management and work-life balance.

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UK commercial property lease lengths shorten to ten year low, claims report

let-signLease lengths for commercial property fell to an historic low in the year to June 2013, while income, lost due to tenants going bust, hit an all time high, according to a new report from IPD. The IPD Lease Events Review measures over 93,000 leases, and 3,500 lease events across the UK. The 2013 edition found that over 80 percent of UK leases signed in the year to June 2013 were under five years in length, the highest level since measurement began and up from 55 percent over the last ten years. The average length of commercial property leases is now 5.8 years, down from 7.8 years in 2003, lower even than the 6.0 years in 2009 at the lowest point of the recession. Landlords have struggled to maintain cash flow and lost over 6 percent of their income due to a record numbers of defaults and insolvencies last year.

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