Engineering a brighter future

It’s possibly no surprise that the acquisition of Peter Brett Associates (PBA) by multinational Stantec two years ago went largely unnoticed beyond industry observers. “That’s typical of us,” the company’s UK CEO Paul Reilly told Tim Wickham. “We tend to keep our achievements to ourselves and don’t spend time shouting about them. We just focus on solving planning and construction challenges and supporting our clients.”

Stantec project: Reading’s iconic Christchurch pedestrian and cycle bridge over the river Thames

Key quotes:

On growth: “We had reached the point where we were well known for our community development projects, supporting residential and regeneration schemes, and our innovative planning and transport infrastructure work. Our strategic insight and vision for places were highly regarded. But as we became more engaged in larger scale project delivery, we found we weren’t always able to match the scale of our competitors.”

On carbon emissions: For us, it’s about taking carbon out of construction design processes, for example, by reducing the amount of steel and concrete used. It’s also about reinventing and regenerating town centres, so land and buildings support more health facilities, social housing and amenities.”

Read the full article here.

Making office space COVID-19 secure

As the COVID-19 lockdown eases, commercial fit-out and furniture specialist Mobius says companies are already viewing office space differently. The firm is well-placed through its use of digital and virtual reality (VR) technology to support companies searching for inspiration. Company founder Kevin Lancaster tells Tim Wickham what the ‘new normal’ might look like.

Key quotes:

“An important consideration at the moment is trust,” says Lancaster. “We have trusted in the Government to act. Now we need to trust employers to create COVID-19 secure workplaces where people are safe. And companies need to have trust and faith in their employees to work effectively in these new work environments.”

Lancaster expects many businesses will look at localising offices when their current leases expire by taking space nearer to where their employees live. “We expect to see smaller offices and ‘communication lounges’ for staff to use combined with home working.”

Read the full article here.

Paw turnout at work

Dogs3The tail definitely wags the dog at EDG. Pooch power drives the business, and not just on Bring Your Dog to Work Day, which this year is on 22 June. EDG’s three tail-wagging co-workers never miss the chance to assist in the smooth running of the business.

Having a national day to bring your dog to work is a transatlantic thing, with initiatives taking place in the UK and US.

The UK’s Bring Your Dog To Work Day has been organised since 2014 by Hownd, a natural pet care brand for dogs. It supports two charities – All Dogs Matter and Animals Asia. Hownd cites scientific studies that support claims pets can reduce a person’s stress levels at work. According to Hownd, workers who have taken part in the day report increased job satisfaction and improved team co-operation.

US-based Pet Sitters International (PSI), an educational association for professional pet sitters, started the stateside Take Your Dog To Work Day in 1999. Its survey of 1,000 pet owners found 78% thought a pet-friendly policy was an employee benefit. While 82% felt pets help reduce stress in the workplace, and 63% said pets at work could encourage colleagues to collaborate and interact more.

Significantly, just over half the respondents in PSI’s survey said a pet-friendly policy would be a deciding factor between two potential employers who were equal on all other counts.

Of course, you have to be very careful about how a dog day is organised, particularly the suitability of the workplace and the pets. You’ll need to consider the feelings of colleagues who don’t count themselves as canine lovers.

If you want further compelling benefits, Blue Cross, the animal welfare charity, offers tips for bringing dogs to work.

It’s not just dogs that can help us humans.

Charities like Pets as Therapy visit hospitals, nursing and care homes to improve patients’ health and wellbeing with animals. And calming, fluffy animals can help stressed students.

The charity Greatwood uses former racehorses to educate disadvantaged children and young adults with special educational needs. Riding for the Disabled Association also shows the transformative effect horses can have. And anyone can pop into a cat café for coffee and feline pampering.

With the dogs at work day approaching, why not take the lead? Suggest your boss opens the door to dogs. And don’t worry if colleagues think you’re a bit barking. Man’s best friend etc.

Humour at work? You’re having a laugh

Mad image 2A Google search for ‘humour at work’ reveals just two results. And one is for hummus at work.

Actually, that’s a rather poor attempt at humour. There are millions of Google results (95.9, 54.5 or 3.36 million, depending on which day you search). Whatever. Clearly, there’s no shortage of smarta***s out there.

Aparently, the ability to laugh with colleagues, laugh at yourself – just laugh – is fundamental to being human. It’s what sets us apart from animals. Try telling that to a hyena.

But how much humour, and when, are tricky questions.

A little light humour during dark periods of stress can work wonders. In a busy workplace, you can’t beat a bit of banter. Those one-liners or a running joke that wends its way back and forth can boost morale.

The funny thing is how seriously people take humour. Take these two events coming up in June and July 2018. Real rib ticklers, and there are probably plenty more like them.

The International Society for Humor Studies’ 30th annual conference should be a laugh a minute. Or 5,760 minutes – four days of academic presentations from theories on verbal humour to satire in politics.

If you prefer Wolverhampton to Tallinn this summer, there’s an international summer school on humour and laughter. It’ll get you up to speed on the theory and methods used in the scientific study of humour.

Is humour worth the effort? Evidence, as if it were needed, suggests it is.

Researchers at Wharton School discuss in a Wall Street Journal podcast how teams work better when they laugh and joke together. They say humour can improve productivity, although we’re not sure if that’s meant to be a joke.

Fortunately, there’s even a place for sarcasm, so long as it doesn’t turn nasty or negative. The Wharton School researchers found that being on the end of sarky comments can actually boost your own creativity and expand the way you think.

The researchers even say humour can improve your status at work – on the basis that you’re more confident and willing to get involved doing stuff that gets you noticed. Although some of the glummer senior execs we’ve worked with prove exceptions to this rule.

So, what kind of worker are you? The ‘pack up your troubles and just get happy’ or the ‘heavens knows I’m miserable now’ type?

Remember, your next joke could make all the difference to your career.