Would A Shorter Work Week Make Employees Happier?

If your boss asked you out of the blue whether you’d like to work about five fewer hours a week for the same pay, your response would no doubt be something along the lines of yes, please!, give or take a few exclamation points. The new arrangement would seem to provide more time for family or hobby, and perhaps even make work itself more tolerable. On the whole, you’d probably expect to go home a happier person.

South Korea made employees just such an offer back in 2004 by enacting a national policy that reduced the work week by 10% (from 44 to 40 hours) and made Saturday an official off-day. But the plan may not have led to the quality-of-life improvements that policy leaders expected. On the contrary, labor scholar Robert Rudolf of Korea University reports in the Journal of Happiness Studies that the policy had no effect at all on job or life well-being.
“In particular,” concludes Rudolf, “holding everything else including own earnings and household income constant, average reductions of more than four hours of work time did not have a significant impact on full-time workers’ overall job and life satisfaction.”

So a shorter work week didn’t make people happier at home or in the office. Huh. Also: huh?

Before we get to that question, let’s take a closer look at Rudolf’s research. He analyzed longitudinal data on well-being from a pool of roughly 13,700 workers between 1998 and 2008. That time period covered several years before and after the new work hours went into effect, offering a pretty strong window into the policy’s impact on well-being. He also restricted the sample to workers who were married or living with a partner and a family, since one of the main points of the plan was to improve home-work balance.

One of the clearest things Rudolf found in the data is that Koreans work a lot. Other reports had already shown as much; in 2012, according to global data, Koreans worked the second-most annual hours in the world. Rudolf found that despite the 2004 policy establishing 40-hour work weeks, Koreans still worked 51 hours a week, on average, in 2008. That figure was down from a decade earlier, however, as Koreans had averaged 56 hours a week in 1998.

For the most part, to no one’s surprise, workers preferred shorter work hours. But very long work weeks didn’t bother everyone. Self-employment was associated with higher job satisfaction even if it led to more and less predictable hours, perhaps because people who work for themselves enjoy what they do. Very long work hours—more than 60 a week—also showed no effect on life satisfaction for some workers, perhaps because these people had achieved a high status.

Even more interesting, though, was Rudolf’s discovery that the new shorter work-week policy had no direct significant effect on a person’s life or work satisfaction. The finding held true controlling for income; it was true for men and women alike; and it was true whether work weeks fell by four or eight hours. Simply put, the results suggest that telling people to work less doesn’t necessarily make them happier (though it remains possible that some people intentionally choose less-demanding jobs to avoid the stress of work and thus improve their well-being).

“These findings are probably not what policy makers had intended when designing the reform,” Rudolf writes.

That’s for sure. The biggest question is just why the policy went so far astray. The most likely explanation, in Rudolf’s mind, is that companies changed their work environments to counterbalance the new policy. Supervisors might have asked employees to accomplish the same amount of work in less time, or maybe companies reduced paid leave. In that sense, whatever workers gained in terms of free time out of the office, they might have lost in terms of new stress in it.

So the evidence suggests that a slightly shorter work week alone makes not a happy worker. That doesn’t mean a plan like Korea’s has no value. Productivity and work quality, which have been shown to fall when employees work very long hours, might have gone up (then again, stressed-out workers aren’t necessarily good workers). It does mean that designing a plan to truly improve work-life balance may in itself be much harder work than we might have preferred.

The story was originally published on Fast Company.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

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Top 10 Lessons On A Mobile Workplace

February 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Here’s what we know:

 

  1. Mobile isn’t always mobile. To quote from Princess Bride, ‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.’ Depending on the organization, mobility can mean onsite mobile, mobile on campus or work from anywhere. Determine what mobile really means to the organization and then to build a strategy around it.
  2. Create an integrated team. The key players—Real Estate, Human Resources, Information Technology—are easy to identify. But given these entities have independent budgets, schedules, strategy and delivery, it takes trust-building, budget revealing and schedule gnashing work to integrate. But once it comes together, it’s the most powerful tool in the workplace arsenal.
  3. Pilot, then pilot, then pilot. Not even airline pilots come as singles. They all have backups. Mobile Work pilots are the same. Multiple pilots provide lessons over time, allowing the tuning necessary for any strategic change. Keep piloting.
  4. Avoid the pain of quick decisions. We often hear that real estate has a workplace emergency. There’s often a rush to get a pilot ready, to house employees from recent acquisitions or take advantage of a lease deal. Quick decisions drive commitments in occupancy that may play out over the life cycle of multiple leases becoming weights that carry performance implications for people as well as portfolio. Avoid that pain. Plan ahead.
  5. Find complementary funding. We can’t tell you how often we hear ‘that’s not in my budget’. To make mobility work, it has to be in all budgets with a coalesced plan of action. The good of the company, the performance of its people and the balanced cost model to allow that to happen should be the target. Learn how to complement one another to make this happen.
  6. Assume continuous learning. You won’t get it right every time. It’s a time of tumultuous change as we refine our personal lives to be more connected, digital and immersive. When the world is changing, we know that we can get close in workplace, but we also know that we’re part of a continuous learning cycle globally as work and life converge. Expect that to continue.
  7. Expect that evolution happens. Yes, we just agreed to this, but evolution in work process is moving rapidly. We’re drowning in information and grappling with ways to make that information work harder for us. Our work processes are changing in tandem. Embrace that this evolution is active, not historical. Learn to be agile with change.
  8. Build in congruence. We know what happens when one group wants to be very progressive while another prefers the status quo. There’s a tug for power, a struggle to effectively advance any idea. In order for the organization to be successful in its mobility program, the experts who lead the physical planning, the technology planning, the personnel planning and the business need to be fully aligned with their intent. Congruence pays for itself. Create alignment and excel.
  9. Set aside $ for POEs. We measure projects to gain feedback from employees but then fail to put a penny in place to make any changes they suggest. If you ask for opinions on effectiveness of mobile workplace and fail to act where fine tuning is required, what’s been accomplished? It’s best to set aside money, particularly on a new mobile workplace strategy, to allow for changes to be made not only in the project, but in the overall program
  10. Plan for change. This work is about capturing hearts and minds while building trust and creating new capabilities. Some will embrace change while others will struggle. We’re habitual creatures and mobile work requires new habits to be formed. Harder still, it requires old habits to end. We have to create a cohesive transition for mobile workers, providing knowledge about not only what to do and how to do it, but why it’s relevant for the organization to thrive. Plan this even more carefully than the physical environment, as it’s central to the success of any mobile work program.

 

The story originally appeared on Perkins+Will.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

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How Do People Find Commercial Real Estate Property?

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Google Inc. and LoopNet released the results of a joint study: Commercial Real Estate Consumer Online Behavior and Trends. The study, which aimed to understand the role the internet plays in commercial real estate, leverages Google’s proprietary online search data and custom research conducted on LoopNet’s behalf by Market Connections, an independent research firm, in 2014 to survey and analyze the behaviors of tenants and investors currently involved in a commercial property search and who have recently been involved in a transaction.

The joint study revealed that nearly 80% of tenants and investors report using online sources to search for commercial property. The study also found that six in 10 searchers begin their property searches on the internet before any other source. These findings correspond to a 60% increase in commercial real estate related online searches reported by Google over the last six years.

“This study confirms what LoopNet’s traffic trends have long indicated,” said LoopNet President Fred Saint. “The internet has quickly become one of the most valuable and widely used tools to connect buyers and sellers of commercial real estate.”

Some key findings from the study:

  • 80% of tenants and investors surveyed agree that they rely on the internet for their commercial real estate information needs more now than three years ago.
  • Over three quarters (78%) of tenants and investors surveyed use online commercial real estate services or tools at some point in their commercial real estate search.
  • Commercial real estate related online searches have grown 60% since 2008.
  • Six in 10 respondents search for commercial properties using their mobile devices at least sometimes.
  • Over half the survey respondents (55%) reported that they perform their own online searches for commercial property, even when they are working with a broker.

Along with the increase in online sources being used, there appears to be a decrease in other more “traditional” research methods. For example, only 7% of surveyed tenants and investors report beginning their commercial real estate searches by driving in the desired area. These findings are significant for commercial real estate brokers and firms who are marketing their services and available properties. With this study, LoopNet and Google hope to provide valuable insight to help them optimize their advertising efforts and reach more tenants and investors.

The story originally appeared on Globe NewsWire.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

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Valentine’s Day By The Numbers

February 10, 2015 Leave a comment

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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Three Workplace Trends To Watch In 2015

February 3, 2015 Leave a comment

If you happen to work at Microsoft, Google, Credit Suisse, or Unilever, you may be slightly ahead of your time — but only slightly. Those four companies have been featured in a new research report on the future of work.

“Most of the changes we’ll see in the next few years have already started to happen, but they will accelerate,” says Peter Andrew, workplace strategy director for Asia at real estate company CBRE. “The future is already here.”

Why real estate? Simple: Many big commercial clients sign leases for a quarter century or more into the future, so the industry keeps an eye on how work, and the places where we do it, are most likely to evolve.

CBRE teamed up with Genesis, a forward-looking real estate developer in China, to conduct in-depth interviews and other research with about 220 expert observers, executives, and office workers around the world, many of them Millennials.

The study turned up some intriguing signs of things to come, like these three:

Artificial intelligence will transform the workplace. The era of automation, which has seen robots replace workers in routine jobs in warehouses and on manufacturing assembly lines, is shifting to “knowledge work.”

Among the advantages of teaching computers to gather information, and base decisions on it, is that “humans have biases. For example, people tend to be overly optimistic about a risky course of action if they’ve already invested a lot in it,” Andrew says. “AI eliminates those biases.”

It could also eliminate a lot of jobs — up to 50% of what knowledge workers do now, according to some estimates. Economies worldwide “won’t create new jobs at the same rate as we lose old ones,” says Andrew. “So there will be a difficult period of adjustment.”

Andrew likens this to what’s already happened within the legal profession, where computerization of routine research has slashed the number of new associates law firms need to hire. The upside: AI will free up human talent for more interesting, creative work. Eventually, we’ll all get used to it, Andrew says — especially since many of the tasks AI will take over are the business equivalent of household drudgery: “You never hear anyone complain about the invention of the dishwasher.”

Companies will need a Chief of Work. Most C-suites haven’t added new roles since the Chief Information Officer title took hold about 20 years ago, but CBRE’s research suggests that’s about to change. For one thing, companies today have “human resources, we have IT, and we have a real estate division — all acting separately and, often, unwittingly working against each other,” Andrew says.

A Chief of Work would coordinate all that, with an eye toward building a culture that attracts top talent, or what Andrew calls “the complete experience of working for the company, and how that affects performance.” Finding the most efficient balance between full-time employees and growing armies of independent contractors will be in the Chief of Work’s wheelhouse, too.

Office cubicles will be a relic of the past. For huge swaths of the knowledge-working, laptop- or tablet-toting world, technology has already made a desk in an office obsolete, or at least optional. So, partly in the interest of face-to-face collaboration, companies in CBRE’s study are thinking up ways to make workspaces healthier, more comfortable, and more fun.

One example: Old-school fluorescent lighting could be replaced by LED lights that can easily change color throughout the day to reflect subtle changes in the sky outside, like those lights on many airliners now that simulate dawn, midday, and dusk for long-distance travelers.

Companies will also move toward creating campus-like office buildings, like Chiswick Park in England, with amenities and events that draw people in. Andrew says more big companies around the world are starting to hand empty space, including erstwhile cube farms, over to local artists and musicians for use as studios.

“HR people tell us they see a tremendous increase in employee engagement from art, in particular,” says Martin Chen, chief operating officer of Genesis. “Making a more interesting environment, where you bring more of the broader culture into the space, creates a buzz and an energy that you really can’t replicate in any other way.

The story originally appeared on Fortune.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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The Super Bowl 2015 Infographic

January 24, 2015 Leave a comment

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

 

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Office Space Reflecting Company Culture Can Help It Stand Out Among Peers

January 21, 2015 Leave a comment

Finding well-located office space and then transforming that space to accurately reflect a company’s culture can be key factors in attracting and retaining talent, according to corporate real estate experts.

Curt Wilhelm of Electronic Arts, Inc. and Antonia Cardone of DTZ, Inc. are two Bay Area-based workplace strategists who excel at handling these types of challenges daily, and they are being recognized for their work as honorees of the 2014 Corporate Real Estate awards given by the Northern California chapter of CoreNet Global, the trade association for corporate real estate executives.

Wilhelm, Electronic Arts’ vice president of global real estate facilities and corporate services, will receive the group’s Corporate Real Estate Executive award and Cardone, DTZ’s senior vice president of workplace strategy, global corporate services, will receive the Service Provider award. The awards will be given at the 17th Annual CRE Awards Dinner Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

Honorees are recognized for “how they’ve elevated corporate real estate,” said event Co-Chair Nancy Morse, a senior vice president at commercial real estate brokerage Newmark Cornish & Carey in Santa Clara. “It’s based on innovation, and what they’ve done creatively with the work that they’ve done.”

For Wilhelm, that work includes handling 67 offices globally for EA, a video game developer based in Redwood Shores.

When Wilhelm chooses and helps design office space, he turns to employees for input. Hence, each location is unique in its offerings.

“We’re talking to employees of that space in that location,” he said. “[We ask], ‘For your work environment, what’s important to you? What helps you? What do you need?’”

“We don’t approach it as a cookie-cutter view,” he added.

“Electronic Arts is reinventing the office look and feel every time they design an office,” Morse said.

Amenities such as access to restaurants and transportation are important, but more specifically for EA, the company requires space with enough power to support game development and the technology developers use regularly.

“Making sure [offices] have sufficient power, correct lighting and the right heating and cooling in the area is something that we work on all the time,” Wilhelm said.

The interior space also needs to be flexible enough to correlate with the company’s changing product line. For example, a team working on a soccer video game can sit in a room with sofas shaped like soccer goals, ball-shaped lights and Astroturf instead of carpet. Yet the room could easily be changed to match a new game the company introduces.

“We don’t have a standard furniture system,” Wilhelm said.

“Games are ever changing so we have to be able to be flexible and when something changes, we can easily go in there, change it up, and it’s fresh and new,” Wilhelm said. Staying connected with company executives and being able to move and change quickly is “my job day in and day out,” he said.

Creating office space that showcases a company’s image is something more businesses should focus on, said San Francisco-based Cardone, who leads the property services firm’s West Coast workplace strategy team and practice. Some companies tend to look at their peers for ideas on how to format space rather than thinking about what would work best for their individual company.

“Everybody is playing the ‘me, too’ game in relation to workplace strategies in the Bay Area these days. [Such as asking], ‘What do my neighbors have and how can I keep up with them, because I have to recruit people, too,’” she said. “It’s really hard to find examples of people who are seriously on the forefront of workplace innovation.”

A company might have “a technological vision, a customer vision and a revenue vision and then [say], ‘Just make the place as good as everybody else’s so that people are willing to come work here,’” Cardone said.

It’s also important for companies to look internally at how to ensure employees make the most of their time spent in the office, she added

“The absolute best work environment I don’t believe is going to make as much difference as the most effective work environment,” she said.

“One of the biggest challenges is diagnosing what the company is trying to deal with and then being able to work with them to develop solutions,” she said.

If strong demand for office space continues in the supply-constrained San Francisco market, Cardone expects companies will begin looking beyond Class A high-rise or converted warehouse space to the “in-between” properties. This space might not have the curb appeal or high-quality finishes of other properties, but some are well located and are more readily available, she said.

“We’re going to see some of these in-between buildings looking to upgrade and improve to meet the demands of the tenants out there,” Cardone said.

The story was originally published on The Registry.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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