The office of small things

Our productivity at work is ruined by small things – the light which is just a little too bright, or dim; the office being too hot or cold; the noisy colleague the other side of the floor; or the printer not being filled up with paper (and no paper being in sight). Yes there are bigger things too – organisations failing to provide the right type of workspace, for example not enough quiet rooms to do some one-to-one or reflective work or not enough space to collaborate with colleagues we might see only occasionally.

These are what Tim Oldman, founder of Leesman, the opensource index which measures the performance and effectiveness of office environments, describes as “productivity toxins”. Oldman was speaking at the Federation of Corporate Real Estate’s autumn seminar looking at some of the key issues involved in creating an efficient workplace.

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Generation Y wants to work at work

Is it really any surprise that young people want to work at work, rather than at home, or anywhere else? An article in this morning’s i-fm.net reports on a study of 19 blue-chip companies, including Barclays, Microsoft, Tesco and Pfizer by Advanced Workplace Associates that revealed that employees in the early stages of their careers prefer to work at the office in order to see and be seen.

Learning the ropes, making contacts and gaining recognition are important for Generation Y and they need to do this in the office. “As people become more established and have proven their abilities, they are more likely to support working flexibly or remotely as part of their working pattern,” explained Andrew Mawson, MD of Advanced Workplace Associates.

But there’s one important point that was missed. I think that younger people prefer to work in the office, because one of the other options – working at home is just not a possibility for many.

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Park Life

Local authorities have a new money-making idea to make up for the funding shortfall from central government – to charge people such as personal trainers for using the parks as their workplace. Potentially even professional dog-walkers and nannies could have to pay. Hammersmith and Fulham parks department announced the move recently. Parks suffer from “recurring activities that took place on a commercial basis, such as private football coaching, which needed to be identified and charged”. The council said this month that use of the parks is free “however, as soon as personal trainers start charging and making money out of the park, they are running a business and would need a licence,” a report in FM World said.

Personal trainers have argued that they already pay for the upkeep of the parks through their council tax, but there is a reasonable argument that as they’re using them to generate commercial revenue, they could not necessarily do elsewhere (or would be charged to do so) then they should contribute some of that revenue to the park’s owner. Other businesses pay for the rent and upkeep of their own workplaces after all.

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