Cake culture, the next threat to workplace well being?

Monday, 23 January, 2017

Medical professionals are urging workplaces in the United Kingdom to cut back on the amount of sugary food that is available to employees, as concerns regarding obesity rise.

While quite a proportion of people are overweight as a result of an increase in the consumption of sweet foods, what’s alarming is the number of people being admitted to hospitals on account of tooth decay. Was their situation so dire, that a dentist couldn’t help them?

In 2015-16 around 63% of adults in England were classified as either obese or overweight and nearly 64,000 over-18s were admitted to hospital because of tooth decay. Last year, 40% of people made a resolution to lose weight, and 24% said they wanted to eat more healthily.

In the past, I’ve worked at companies that have, how shall we say, offered well-stocked lunch rooms. It was interesting though, talking to others who were partaking of the available foodstuffs, with many saying they never ate this sort of food at home, and indeed did not even keep such items in the house.

Comfort food, perhaps? It seems like there may be other issues at play here, and restricting the availability of sugary snacks may not be the whole solution.

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The office has had its day, yet we’re still stuck with it

Thursday, 4 August, 2016

Open plan working arrangements. The time wasting, and fuel inefficient, commute. Colleagues who specialise in doing nothing. Office politics. Who needs it? The office has had its day, writes home based researcher, broadcaster, and writer, Erin Stewart.

Anyone can adapt to a lifestyle of no commute, no brittle mornings, no cringey small talk. It’s no less natural than sitting under flickering fluorescent lights in a maze of desks. With existing technology, most jobs can be done remotely. After all, doctors can even conduct telesurgery these days. While colleagues would ideally meet in-person sometimes, managers of a decentralised workforce would need better justifications for meetings than “we’re all here, so why not?”

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If you want to know what workers really want, please keep quiet

Thursday, 23 June, 2016

What do latter-day employees really want of their workplace? Bottomless jars of snacks? No. A four day working week? No (though possibly they weren’t asked about that). A quiet working environment? Yes. That’s right, workers want peace and quiet, so they can concentrate.

While some argue that unlocking engagement from millennial workers lies in playground-like offices, CityLab highlights a new survey that says that it’s peace and quiet that’s the real key. Carried out by Oxford Economics (a spin-off organization of Oxford University), the results revealed that uninterrupted work time was at the top of most of the 1,200 respondents’ wish lists. Meanwhile, none said that free food was the most important.

I can go for that.

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Have a better day at work, sit as far from your boss as possible

Tuesday, 1 December, 2015

The more you keep your distance from your boss, the better, because bad attitude begets bad attitude it seems:

Researchers in the Netherlands have found that physical distance is a key factor in determining the extent to which bad behaviour of managers spreads to employees. “If someone kicks a dog right in front of you, it’ll make you very mad,” said Gijs van Houwelingen, a researcher at the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands. “But if you hear about someone somewhere in the world kicking a dog, you probably won’t feel as mad about it.”

And on that note, the difference between bosses and leaders. I hope your workplace management style aligns with the latter rather than the former.

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Only at a health insurance office… stairs that you want to climb

Wednesday, 10 June, 2015

Image by HASSELL

A health insurance company that encourages people to use the stairs when moving from one level of a building to another, rather than the elevator? That’s what we like to see. And with a stair and ramp network as seen in the above image, wouldn’t you rather move that way also?

This is the sight you’ll see at Medibank’s Melbourne office, as designed by HASSELL, a design practice located in the same city. And it wasn’t just the stairs that were the focus of attention during the design process either… in fact I could almost be tempted to go and work there.

Medibank employees have real freedom to choose how and where they work. With laptops and mobile phones in hand, Medibank’s people can now select from more than 26 types of work settings, ranging from indoor quiet spaces and collaborative hubs to wifi-enabled balconies and places to stand and work. Circadian lighting in certain areas of the workspace mimics natural daylight patterns supporting people’s biorhythms.

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Power to the bloggers… by way of an online writers union

Friday, 24 April, 2015

Now here’s something I never thought would see the light of day. Ever. A union for online content producers, writers, or bloggers. At least for those working at Gawker Media, the New York City based online media company and blog network, that is.

The online media industry makes real money. It’s now possible to find a career in this industry, rather than just a fleeting job. An organized work force is part of growing up. I fully expect that Gawker Media will emerge from this experience stronger than it has ever been.

Could they do something like this at BuzzFeed? Maybe not… surely the number of people waiting to land a gig there may work in management’s favour, I think. For now.

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Working while in motion, not standing, the way to get ahead

Monday, 30 March, 2015

Forget standing desks, if you want to boost your performance at work, it looks like treadmill desks are the way to go.

We’re told sitting is the new smoking and that we should consider working at standing desks, or perhaps better still, treadmill desks. Indeed, the health benefits of treadmill desks are indisputable, say neuroscientists in Canada, led by Élise Labonté-LeMoyne.

It makes sense, walking has been seen as a great way to arrive at solutions to problems. In fact I’m surprised someone didn’t devise a treadmill desk earlier. Unless they did.

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Designing Google’s new office

Monday, 9 March, 2015

US tech company Google are drawing up plans for a new office building at their Mountain View, California, headquarters. In short, they’re hoping to build a workplace that both melds with the environment and is one with nature.

They’re certainly taking a holistic approach here, and are probably fortunate in that they have the appropriate resources to do so. I wonder if this will be the way of things to come, in terms of workplace architecture?

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The spookiest place in an empty museum at night time is…

Wednesday, 25 February, 2015

A museum night guard writes about his work. If you thought the job may at times be a tad spooky, you’d be right. Imagine, after all, wandering about a large, deserted, building, in the dead of night, by yourself. All those ancient artifacts, all those ghosts possibly lingering there, lurking on the cusp of this world and theirs.

It’s the administration offices however that takes out the award as the scariest place in the complex, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, should it? It certainly doesn’t to me…

The building is strangely full of people, despite being so huge. They’re all working like oompa loompas to get everything polished and ready for the next day. But, depending on where you are, you might be quite a ways from the next person. And you end up by yourself for hours at a time. There are certain areas of the museum where I get the heebie jeebies when I walk through at night. The offices are especially creepy. On one floor of offices – every time I go up there, my hackles get raised immediately. I get the jibblies so hard when I get there, and it’s always that one spot.

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The desk, in downsize mode since 1981

Thursday, 16 October, 2014

When I first started working I had no idea I’d one day be able to pack the entire contents of my office into a day bag, and base myself almost where ever I wanted to.

Yet since 1981, or soon after, the amount of desk space we require has been diminishing (autoplay video), to the point that desks as we know them may well soon be obsolete.

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