Working under the open sky sounds enticing, but it’s seldom a practical option. Now German scientists are promising office workers just that, having created a dynamic luminous ceiling which brings the sky inside, lighting up office spaces by creating the effect of passing clouds. Achim Pross, an electrical engineer at Stuttgart’s Fraunhofer Institute, headed the Skyscape project which attempts to generate a pleasant environment for previously stressed-out, deskbound, workers.
Pross says the device will help bring employees in line with their natural body clocks during the working day. “When you are at your workplace you have a complete day inside of a room, you don’t see the daylight and then your body misses the information about what time of day it is. So with a light situation like this we can tell your body what time of the day it is, actually,” he explained.
The luminous ceiling extends across the entire room simulating lighting conditions produced by passing clouds to convey the impression of sitting outdoors. Developed in close collaboration with Fraunhofer’s partners at LEiDs GmbH, the ceiling consists of tiles measuring 50cm by 50cm, each comprising an board with 288 light emitting diodes (LEDs). The board is mounted on the ceiling and a diffuser film in matt white attached approximately 30cm beneath the LEDs ensures that the individual points of light are not perceived as such. This diffuser film creates homogenous lighting that illuminates the room throughout. The researchers use a combination of red, blue, green and white LEDs in order to produce the full light spectrum. This combination makes it possible to generate more than 16 million gradations of colour. “We can control every pixel with a different spectrum, different colours, so we can control the spectrum, and so we can change in different positions of the room different light situations,” said Pross.
The main focus in developing the virtual sky was to simulate natural lighting conditions on a cloudy day. To achieve this goal, the researchers carefully examined natural light to find out how the light spectrum changes when clouds move across the sky and also how quickly it does so.
Pross says the LEDs allow the team to simulate these dynamic changes in lighting in a way not directly obvious to the naked eye, in order to avoid distracting people from their work.
He believes it fluctuates at the correct level to promote concentration and heighten alertness.
A preliminary study involved ten volunteers carrying out their daily work over the course of four days under these lighting conditions. Throughout the first day, the lighting remained static. On the second day it fluctuated gently, and on the third day the fluctuations were rapid. On the fourth day the participants could choose which type of lighting they wanted, and 80 percent opted for the fast, dynamic lighting.
Some staff members working in the Skyscape demonstration office, like engineer Miline Mahale (Pron: Mah-lin Mer-har-lee), choose to occasionally choose a vibrant light program when they want to feel more creative.
“This lighting really helped me for creative working and even for most of the time with mood creating, so not only the sky has a dynamic, but even using the direct colour light like low light or orange light for making it more vibrant kinds of situations, for working more rigourously on the creative topics,” said Mahale.
The system is also available as part of personal ergonomic work stations at which users can select any light combination they desire.
“We call it heliocity lamp, it’s also a multi-spectral, dynamic LED light system that we can also change, do some dynamic light, change the light for an individual person at his workplace, so in combination with the virtual sky have some light situation for the complete room, the complete building, and together the people can make their own light at this workplace, so that we have a workplace situation and a complete room situation,” said Pross The prototype virtual sky on Fraunhofer’s Stuttgart campus contains a total of 34,560 LEDs spanning an area of 34 square metres. At full power the ‘sky’ lights up with an intensity of more than 3,000 lux, but between 500 and 1,000 lux is sufficient to create a comfortable level of lighting. According to tests by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organisation dedicated to sustainable building, working in daylight – as opposed to the dimly lit conditions seen in many offices – can improve productivity by at least 15 percent.
The system is available to buy from Fraunhofer, although at the current price of 1,000 Euros (1250 US dollars) per square metre, it’s expensive, but as the price comes down over time the institute expects there to be much interest from the more enlightened of employers.
Source: Thomson Reuters
A series of initiatives are demonstrating the crucial role of facilities management in promoting and enhancing the health and wellbeing of building occupants.
Facilities management is typically viewed as being focused on managing buildings – including reactive and preventive maintenance, the delivery of efficient services such as security, cleaning and catering and ensuring environmental and health and safety compliance. Aligned to this, of course, is the creation of a comfortable environment for the people who occupy the space. But over the last few years, there has been a growing realisation that the built environment can be designed and run in a way that actively enhances people’s health and wellbeing.
In a recent poll FMJ carried out in conjunction with Zip Water into the provision of drinking water at work. The majority (97 per cent) of facilities managers who responded said they considered wellbeing an important part of their role. There is a growing body of evidence to support this view. The British Council of Offices (BCO), the membership organisation for those involved in running offices, released a study, Wellness Matters: Health And Wellbeing In Offices And What To Do About It, which presented a raft of medical evidence that justifies a proactive approach to health and wellbeing in the built environment. And for the first time, the BCO’s latest Guide to Specification now includes a health and wellbeing chapter that takes a “people-first” approach.
While the globally recognised standard BREEAM (The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) assesses, rates and certifies the sustainability of a building’s lifecycle stages, more and more organisations are keen to achieve certification with the WELL Building Standard, which focuses on the wellbeing of the people who occupy the building. The WELL Building Standard is made up of features that address ten concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community, all of which come under the remit of the facilities manager.
According to the Zip/FMJ report, WELL-certified buildings have recorded greater employee satisfaction and engagement, a rise in the rate of hiring new talent, a fall in the employee turnover rate, enhanced tenant/landlord partnerships, improved productivity, attitude and collaboration, improved social cohesion among employees and a fall in rates of absenteeism and staff illness.
While staff now have a flexible, open plan space that encourages movement and collaboration, for those who need some privacy there are quiet rooms, soundproof booths and even a library offering quiet individual space in which to work.
There are some examples of the standard in practice. Landsec’s relocation to a new HQ near London’s Victoria Station prompted a series of initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of its staff, which, according to the incumbent FM, meant not only increasing the provision of healthy food but ensuring that the way the office was designed promoted active working. While staff now have a flexible, open plan space that encourages movement and collaboration, for those who need some privacy there are quiet rooms, soundproof booths and even a library offering quiet individual space in which to work. The workplace has been awarded a certified silver by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).
The Crown Estate’s office has also received a WELL Platinum certification, the first in Europe, for creating an exceptional workplace with the health, wellbeing and performance of its people at the centre. It was also awarded a score by the Leesman survey tool (which measures how office space is supporting employees) that places it among the top 2 per cent of buildings in the world for employee experience.
Significantly, the Workplace Experts at Leesman have announced a joint research project with the founder of the WELL Building Standard, Delos, which will look into how real estate strategy can better support wellbeing at work. The partnership aims to test and validate the impact of strategies on worker wellbeing on an ongoing basis, and not just with new offices. For the first time, Leesman will include an “Environmental Wellbeing Module” based on a review of research on topics related to workplace design, workplace wellbeing, occupational health, happiness, psychological wellbeing and environmental stress, among others.
So far there have only been a handful of Well-certified buildings in the UK, mainly because, by the WELL Building Institute’s own admission, there are a lot of barriers to entry. This is why the IWBI has launched WELL v2, intended to enable organisations to achieve certification for an existing building without major capital expenditure. Given the level of interest in the ways in which facilities management can support wellbeing, it looks like the latest standard will be, like BREEAM before it, an important one that demonstrates FM’s positive contribution to the workplace.
Everyone is talking about client experience (CX) these days, so it’s hardly surprising it will be the key brand differentiator by 2020, overtaking price and product. Getting hold of the right person to help is the biggest improvement organisations need to make, according to the UK satisfaction index 2018. However, achieving this within large and complex organisations is a huge challenge.
Today we receive communication through so many channels – desk phone, mobile, Skype for Business, voicemail, email, WhatsApp and more. Determining which is a potential new business opportunity or “value” call and which is another salesman selling a coffee machine, is becoming increasingly difficult. With organisations receiving so many calls that are deemed productivity-sapping or a distraction, voicemail is being used more and more to screen and gate-keep all incoming calls.
Our research from tagging more than a million calls to professional service firms suggests that up to 26 per cent of calls through switchboard are client-related i.e. “value calls”.
With 30 years’ experience working with professional service firms, and an award-winning 21st century switchboard solution, we understand that delivering exceptional client experience means more than just a friendly welcome or answering your calls around the clock. It’s about satisfying the caller in the first encounter.
Through the combination of highly trained switchboard operators, enabled with an extraordinary amount of technology, we ensure that every call is qualified and correctly navigated into your organisation. That way you know you won’t be distracted by the non-value calls, but will be able to address each and every value call that could mean the difference between landing multi-million pound deals and losing to a competitor.
We enable our clients to release revenue opportunities whilst delivering an exceptional client experience.
When it comes to risk and business continuity, the traditional focus on fire, flood and theft has been replaced with a less visible, but highly destructive threat in the form of cyber-crime, viruses and attacks on businesses’ data and IT environments.
When a cyber-attacks hits, it’s no longer just internet access, computers and servers that are compromised. All communication channels are vulnerable. In many situations the only option is to go dark and take everything offline – resulting in no emails, no internet access, no incoming or outgoing phone calls, and no conference calls with clients. A business’s ability to communicate internally with its own employees, and with the outside world, is significantly impacted.
With a 30-year track record of delivering high-quality professional services to clients in the City of London, ComXo has been an integral part of business continuity plans for many firms, including those which have been compromised by a cyber-attack. ComXo’s extensive experience in business continuity planning enables it to deliver a comprehensive service to maintain the flow of information during a cyber-attack. Delivering clear and concise information reduces misconceptions and reassures clients that business operations can continue to function.
ComXo is a leading provider of managed communications services around the function of the switchboard to the professional service sector. Drawing on comprehensive experience of providing switchboard and BCP solutions to the top 100 law firms in the city of London, it delivers an unparalleled level of expertise. Operators are available 24 hours a day and can step in to provide relief services during peak times, or to replace existing services during emergencies.
A seamless uptake of switchboard services mitigates many of the major negative impacts of a cyber-crisis. Potential clients are still able to get through and access information, with little or no apparent interruption in service. To do this, ComXo ensures staff are fully trained in a business’s operational system to ensure the very highest level of customer service. First impressions count even during a crisis. If customers aren’t able to get what they want from a business, it will not be long before they go elsewhere.
ComXo can support its clients through:
Firms are being held back by operational friction because they are becoming more complex. Workforces work from everywhere, at any time of day or night, across different time zones. Different offices use different systems, with different sources of data.
Workforces are vastly diverse, comprising full-timers, part-timers, consultants, gig economy workers and outsourcers. Communication happens via mobile, desk phones, switchboards, WhatsApp, Skype for Business, hangouts and others. These variables become complicated – complication causes friction, friction causes frustration, and frustration causes operational failure. It’s the three Fs: friction, frustration, failure.
ComXo support 135 complex businesses handling over a million operational requests by phone and email every year. These requests fall into three categories – navigation, reservation and escalation. People navigating into and across an organisation – for instance a new business enquiry, or finding a subject matter expert in your business, for example. Reservation services can include booking and managing a complex meeting room requirement, taxis or voice/video conference calls. Escalation services may include IT and facilities helpdesk requests.
To enable businesses to evolve and have the right tools in place to maximise efficiency and productivity, we are bringing our customers a global first – a mobile, anytime service app that is a hybrid of technology and instant human service, giving access to navigation, reservation and escalation.
We call this the ComXo Business Services Gateway, because that’s what it is – a gateway to your business services. It starts with the mapping of our client’s communication flows, knowledge flows and workflows across their organisation. We re-engineer these processes to maximise ease of use, then we enable them to be accessed via a mobile app – either self-service or as an instant managed service by our team of experts.
Imagine the ultimate business concierge service…
The Business Services Gateway will transform the productivity of large complex businesses because it helps remove friction, frustration and operational failure. It is, in essence, an expert human cloud that sits above the entire back-office of complex organisations that can be accessed 24/7, to simply get stuff done.
If we could increase your employee productivity by just 5 per cent, what would that mean to your bottom line? For our existing customers, it means millions of pounds of additional profit.
WeWork owner The We Company disclosed data on Friday that showed expansion of its office-sharing business was almost doubling in size from a large pipeline of leases even as the money-losing company plans to slash costs and reduce its headcount.
WeWork divulged a presentation it gave prospective creditors in October about two weeks before SoftBank agreed to a $9.5 billion (£7.44 billion) bailout to keep the company afloat before cash on hand was expected to run out some time in November.
The data showed that as of the third quarter WeWork planned to add 450,000 desks through leased locations that have not yet opened, which would represent almost a doubling in size from the 520,000 desks already up and running.
The Oct. 11 presentation said that “despite the noise,” an allusion to the intense media focus after We withdrew its plans to go public in September, “we have continued to perform.”
The 49-page presentation highlighted changes underfoot to emphasize a renewed focus on WeWork as its core business. The presentation also showed the company distancing itself from the much-criticized leadership of co-founder Adam Neumann, who relinquished control under the deal with SoftBank.
Going forward WeWork plans a “disciplined focus on profitable market-share expansion” instead of growing the business “prior to funding commitments,” which the presentation said occurred from 2017 to September 2019 under Neumann.
A 90-day game plan included reducing headcount in administrative operations, WeWork’s venture capital arm and in growth-related functions, a likely reference to the teams dedicated to designing and constructing new office sites.
No numbers were provided for layoffs. Marcelo Claure, the SoftBank executive who was named chairman of WeWork last month, has said layoffs are expected but has not said how many.
The presentation said WeWork plans to divest seven non-core businesses – Conductor, the Wing, Managed by Q, Meetup, SpaceIQ, Teem and Wave Garden. The units organize meetings, provide facilities and workplace management, and marketing.
The presentation also said plans divulged to investors in October to close RISE, the company’s wellness centers, are now under reevaluation.
Just over half of WeWork’s Naked Hub locations in China were what the company calls mature, or sites that have been open for more than 24 months, yet China’s occupancy rate was only 76%.
WeWork shelved its plans to go public on Sept. 30 after investors grew wary of its losses, business model and corporate governance. Neumann had resigned the previous week.
Source: by Herbert Lash, Manojna Maddipatla, editing by Leslie Adler for Thomson Reuters
The term “people flow” describes the way people move in and between buildings – and when managed correctly, that means moving safely, smoothly, comfortably and efficiently. Good people flow doesn’t just happen automatically – it takes a combination of data and insight to understand people’s intuitive movement, and then transfer that knowledge into practical solutions. This process can provide huge benefits to users and to your business.
For decades, KONE has developed and fine-tuned methods to plan and analyse the flow of people in buildings, with an eye to ensuring a smooth user experience. Now, as a response to the increasing complexities in both new building and modernisation projects, KONE has expanded on its approach to people flow optimisation, advancing its analytics, upgrading its tools and adding interior architects and data scientists to its own team of people flow experts.
The latest technologies have led to new customer solutions such as predictive maintenance, which drives down disruption to their service and increases user satisfaction and experience within buildings. This particular solution, KONE 24/7 Connected Services, has been facilitated by connecting lifts and escalators to the cloud – from here, KONE uses its partnership with IBM to analyse this data with its AI tool, IBM Watson, to predict faults and fix problems before breakdowns occur.
KONE has been able to provide its customers with real benefits with these solutions, and has changed how it partners with customers. KONE has shifted its approach from ‘inside-out’ (selling products based upon features and benefits) to ‘outside-in’, which involves co-creating solutions around customers’ business objectives.
As an example, KONE has a longstanding relationship with a large nationwide hotel chain. The chain’s occupancy rates are directly linked to online customer satisfaction sites such as TripAdvisor. When customer satisfaction is high, occupancy is high – however, there are two key drivers that can lower satisfaction and occupancy: no hot water and broken lifts. To tackle this problem, KONE 24/7 Connected Services was installed in the hotel chain’s 50 worst-performing lifts. By doing so, a 24 per cent reduction in breakdowns, and a 41 per cent fall in entrapments followed after a trial period. This is having a very real, positive impact on customer satisfaction, and the hotel’s profitability as a company.
It is important to remember that every building is different, both in design and the way it is used. For example, office buildings today often house 30 to 40 per cent more tenants than the original design intended. This has huge implications for people flow through those buildings.
The way buildings are being designed, built and managed is changing. KONE is leading the way by partnering with companies such as IBM, using real-time data, harnessing artificial intelligence and driving predictive maintenance for its customers, leading to smarter buildings and, most of all, better outcomes.
Jacqui McLaughlin, CEO, Reactec
The HSE estimates that two million people in the UK are at risk of developing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, or HAVS, by using power tools in their work – such as grounds or buildings maintenance.
There is no cure, and the impacts are life-changing – sufferers find it difficult to undertake simple tasks such as pulling up a zip, holding a glass or playing with their children. Many are also forced to change career. The disease also impacts businesses – HSE fines and personal liability claims are growing.
But facilities managers undertake regular risk assessments and apply controls to reduce the risk – it’s top of the agenda as part of their role. However, even if we think we are compliant, data shows that this approach to managing the risk is simply not addressing the problem well enough.
HAVs remains the highest reported work injury. 10 per cent of workers who work at what is known as the Exposure Action Value will develop Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome within 12 years. And despite the introduction of the legislation in 2005, there has been no significant reduction in new cases. Given that the risk of developing HAVS goes largely unseen as it takes time to develop, it is an invisible risk.
Traditional methods of assessing HAV risk use static vibration magnitude data, often based on manufacturers’ declarations, or from a measurement at a single point in time. Crucially, this data does not account for actual tool use and can result in underestimation of an individual’s exposure by up to 76 per cent. We might not be accounting for what the tool is being used for, its condition, how it is shared or the skill of the worker. One individual’s exposure risk can be much higher than another’s.
A good understanding of the time of not only exposure to vibration but also the vibration magnitude from the tool while in use is required to understand an individual’s HAVS risk.
With 90,000 grounds maintenance workers and some 2.7 million employed in construction-related industries, many maintaining sites under the control of facilities managers, this is a pressing problem. So what should an FM, who rightly puts the safety and wellbeing of colleagues first, do?
The answer lies in deploying wearable technology to determine and report on individual risk. Leading provider Reactec has developed HAVwear – a watch much like those many of us wear daily to measure other aspects of our health and wellbeing – which does just that.
HAVwear is unique as it provides two assessments of the risk from hand-arm vibration exposure. HAVwear acts like a trigger timer and therefore can meet all legislative requirements and the latest guidance from the HSE on monitoring; it is also a real-time, real-use assessment of the Hand-Arm Vibration exposure risk faced by the individual. This additional insight allows FMs to manage down the risk more effectively.
HAVwear is a practical, wearable and personal monitor which has been specifically designed to help protect organisations commercially, but most importantly protect the long-term health of their employees from this hidden disease.
The story of Britain’s cycling renaissance is well known. Between the first modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896, and the event in Sydney 104 years later, Great Britain won a solitary gold medal. The inaugural Tour de France took place in 1903, but it took Dave Brailsford arriving on the scene in 2002, bringing his philosophy of marginal gains with him, to eventually result in a Brit winning the yellow jersey for the first time in 2012. Simply put, Brailsford and his team broke down every component of a bike race, from the equipment and clothing to aerodynamics and maintenance, and set out to improve every little thing by one per cent.
The idea was that these tiny improvements would have a huge cumulative effect, and they did. Team GB topped the cycling medal table at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016. Bradley Wiggins then won the Tour de France in 2012 and British riders have won all but one race since. Many of the things Brailsford and his team improved weren’t the sort of issues that cyclists had traditionally thought about. They redesigned the bike seats to make them more comfortable and rubbed alcohol on tyres to achieve a better grip. They hired a doctor to teach cyclists the proper way to wash hands and avoided handshakes and high-fives altogether during competition. They even took personalised pillows and mattresses all the way across the world to make sure their riders got every possible advantage.
These are the sort of benefits organisations can get from improving even tangential things. In an era when profit margins are tighter than ever, when technology and consumers are evolving on an almost daily basis, why wouldn’t you make sure that facilities management, an integral part of your organisation, is contributing as much as possible?
Facilities management reflects the DNA of an organisation – it underpins the culture and is the foundation upon which organisational performance is built. Historically, the C-suite has underestimated the impact workplace and facilities management can have, and perhaps FMs have been too shy about promoting themselves and their profession. But the time has come for finance and HR directors, and everyone else clustered around the boardroom table, to seize the not-so-marginal gains facilities management is offering.
Research by Leesman has shown that only 54 per cent of workers in this country agree that their workplace enables them to work productively. This seems a massive oversight. The role of the facilities management team is to create amazing places for people to do amazing work, and supporting and enabling organisational performance through its people.
Dave Brailsford, or someone working for him, redesigned team buses to make them more conducive to recuperation. He painted floors and walls white, so it was easier to spot dust and dirt. This attention to the small details resulted in unprecedented success. Imagine applying it to the team which is responsible for the entire visitor journey, comfortable, performance-enabling work environments, health, safety and wellbeing and much more.
The role of the facilities management team is to create amazing places for people to do amazing work, and supporting and enabling organisational performance through its people.
Workplace and facilities managers are responsible for the life-cycle management of an organisation’s buildings, and the overall performance of those buildings. The workplace environment they create and maintain is integral to attracting and retaining talent. It’s no secret that employees perform better when they are safe and comfortable, and when their surroundings reflect their values.
Given the results it produces, it’s no surprise that the philosophy of marginal gains has spread far beyond the cycling world. Healthcare systems embrace it as a way of eliminating mistakes and improving patient care; airlines as a way of improving safety and avoiding accidents. Naturally businesses have taken note.
From technology to sales techniques, there is no area of the modern workplace that isn’t analysed for areas to improve. Surely the time has come for the C-suite to turn to facilities managers and ask them how they can contribute to the organisation’s performance and bottom line.
The workplace is crying out for someone to act as the interface between people, place and process. A person who removes obstacles, fosters collaboration and oversees an environment in which peer-to-peer information sharing, collaboration and production can occur.
In the future the workplace will be a key differentiator, reflecting purpose, behaviours and values. The person responsible for all this will be ideally placed to serve as a bridge between HR, IT and CRE, representing the employee within the workplace ecosystem.
This is the natural progression for facilities managers in the years ahead, and it is time for boards across the UK to take real advantage of their contribution they bring.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has named Dame Judith Hackitt as an adviser, and she will be central to delivering the government’s new Building Safety Regulator, intended to strengthen housing safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire last year.
Hackitt previously fronted the government’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, published last May. The government announced its commitment to Hackitt’s recommendations, and she will now provide it with independent advice on the establishment of the new regulator.
“I am grateful that Dame Judith has agreed to advise my department on the new Building Safety Regulator,” said Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick. “Her expertise will be essential to forming a strong regulator with teeth to ensure all residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes both now and in the future.”
The new regulator is intended to oversee the design and management of buildings and ensuring regulations for higher-risk buildings are properly enforced. It will also be empowered to apply criminal sanctions to building owners who do not obey the new regime.
by Dan Geary
Office workers risk developing a bevy of physical and mental health issues over the next 20 years if workplace conditions do not change, a study has found. Francis Maguire reports.
Office workers risk developing a range of physical and mental health issues over the next 20 years if workplace conditions don’t change.
That’s according to research commissioned by office supplies company Fellowes.
This unhealthy-looking dummy model could be the end result…
Her name’s Emma – and what office workers could look like in the next 20 years.
She was modelled by Will Higham – a behavioural futurist who predicts future human activity
French authorities spent €6 million to build new buildings and parking lots in the town and also set up new infrastructure in other ports such as Le Havre or La Rochelle.
France is the EU’s biggest agricultural producer and exports large amounts of wine, spirits and dairy products to Britain, while relying on its neighbour’s waters to sustain its fishing industry.
“Emma has a permanently bent back now because of the way she’s been sitting at her work station, she has her legs, the muscles in her legs are much weaker, she has varicose veins because of blood flow which is not as good as it was, her eyes are redder and drier because of the atmosphere in the air, again because of the quality of the air.”
3,000 people in France, Germany and Britain took part in the study.
It found more than a third of British office workers spend seven to nine hours a day sitting at a desk.
To avoid such drastic health issues Higham recommends employees do a lot less of that.
And for employers to do their part, too.
“Employers can do a lot more in the workplace. If they can design buildings so that there are actually more spaces for people to take breaks in, if there are different types of desks, different types of work stations within that. We need to encourage more “walk and talk” meetings.”
A warning, then, to workers and employees to get healthy..
Or else face Emma as their future.
Source: Thomson Reuters