Category Archives: License Awareness

237 companies worth $6.3 trillion in market cap now backing climate-risk disclosures

Thanks;Ciara Linnane

Published: Dec 12, 2017 3:22 p.m. ET

Task force seeking voluntary climate disclosure has more than doubled its support base since June

The Atlantic hurricane season broke records in 2017.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) now has 237 companies with a combined market capitalization of more than $6.3 trillion that have publicly committed to its goals, according to its head, Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and entrepreneur.

The TCFD was established by the group of global regulators known as the Financial Stability Board, chaired by Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney, and published its recommendations in June with the aim of encouraging companies to help investors understand the risks to their investments from temperature change, rising sea levels and natural disasters.

The companies that have signed up include more than 150 financial firms with assets of more than $81.7 trillion, the TCFD said in a statement released at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. The summit marks the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate agreement, which seeks to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius by reducing greenhouse emissions. President Donald Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, dismaying climate activists but spurring a greater effort from the private sector to push through its goals without government help. Insurers have said anything higher than a 2 degree-temperature increase would make the world uninsurable.

In case you missed it: U.S. health insurers are in a state of denial about climate change

The companies span a broad range of industries and sectors, from construction to consumer goods, energy, metals and mining, as well as the full capital and investment chain, from companies that issue debt and equity to the largest credit rating agencies and stock exchanges. The list includes Bank of America Corp. BAC, +1.31% , BlackRock Inc. BLK, +1.09% , Citigroup Inc. C, +0.40% JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, +1.16% , Morgan Stanley MS, +2.05% and investors including the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, among others.

“Climate change poses both economic risks and opportunities,” said Bloomberg. “But right now, companies don’t have the data they need to accurately measure the risks and evaluate the opportunities. That prevents them from taking protective measures and identifying sustainable investments that could have strong returns.”

Read now: In Trump era it’s up to companies to push climate agenda, advocates say

The movement won a victory late Monday, when energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp.XOM, -0.33% said it would disclose details on how climate change may affect its business, bowing to pressure from shareholders who voted 62% in favor of a resolution on climate change at its annual shareholder meeting this year.

Companies are expected to start making the first disclosures in the coming year and the TCFD will report on their progress this time next year at the G-20 summit in Argentina, said Carney.

The task force is also planning to launch a web-based platform to further support companies that are interested in implementing its recommendations. The TCFD Knowledge Hub will go live in the first quarter and be available via

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.15% has gained 19% in 2017, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.49% has gained 24%.

Read now: Axa to spend €1.2 billion to fight climate change


China releases guideline for industrial Internet development


Published;2017-11-27 22:57:30|

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BEIJING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — China’s cabinet has unveiled a guideline for developing the “industrial Internet,” integration of industry and the Internet.

By 2025, industrial Internet infrastructure covering all regions and sectors should be basically complete, according to the State Council guideline.

By 2035, China will lead the world in key sectors of the industrial Internet.

By the middle of the century, China should be among the top countries in terms of the overall strength of its industrial Internet.

The development of industrial Internet is a must for China’s manufacturing sector amid international competition, said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of industry and information technology.

The guideline listed major tasks and projects, including increasing the Internet speed and reducing costs, setting industrial Internet standards, establishing innovation centers and improving network security.

Equal market access will be expanded, fiscal support will be strengthened and direct financing will be increased, the guideline said.

Priority will be given to the development of advanced manufacturing that is smart and green, according to the guideline.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has selected 206 pilot projects for smart manufacturing, of which 28 are related to industrial Internet innovation, said Xie Shaofeng, an official with the ministry.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said Monday more energy will be channeled into a range of advanced manufacturing sectors including rail transit, automobiles and agricultural machinery during the next three years.

Core competitiveness in chosen sectors will be substantially improved, the NDRC said, stressing combined development of the real economy and the Internet.

Other sectors included high-end medical apparatus and medicine, new materials and robotics.

As its advantage in cheap labor fades, China has encouraged domestic manufacturers to move up global value chain. The “Made in China 2025” strategy, equivalent to Germany’s Industry 4.0, was announced in 2015.

Top 100 City Destinations Ranking: WTM London 2017 Edition

Thanks;Wouter Geerts

Published;NOVEMBER 7TH, 2017

Euromonitor International is pleased to release its annual Top City Destinations Ranking, covering 100 of the world’s leading cities in terms of international tourist arrivals. For the first time, the Top 100 City Destinations Ranking 2017 Edition was unveiled at World Travel Market (WTM) London, the leading travel and tourism event worldwide. This year’s report includes forecast data up to 2025 and incorporates future travel trends to give further insight on how travel trends are borne out of the opportunities and challenges that cities face.


According to the report, Hong Kong was the most visited city in the world, benefiting from its strategic location and relationship with China, followed by Bangkok, which has overtaken London in 2015. Asian cities dominate the global destination rankings thanks to the inexorable rise of Chinese outbound tourism. In 2010, 34 cities from Asia Pacific were present in Euromonitor International’s ranking. This jumped to 41 cities in 2017 and is expected to grow to 47 cities in 2025. Asia Pacific is the standout region that has driven change in the travel landscape and is expected to continue doing so in the coming decade with Singapore overtaking London as the third most visited city in the world by 2025 making the podium fully Asian.

On the contrary, the performance of European cities has been hampered by several events in recent years, including the Eurozone and migrants crisis, as well as Brexit and terrorist attacks. Despite the uncertainty, some European destinations, in particular Greece, Italy and Spain have profited from unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as they offer a similar climate to countries affected by unrest such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.


Performance in the MENA region has fluctuated greatly in recent years, however Euromonitor forecast data show a recovery for the region in 2017 and beyond. Most noteworthy, it is expected that Egypt will register growth in 2017, after a strong decline in 2016. While the Middle East and North Africa’s main challenges are wars and border disputes, Africa is looking to do the reverse: opening borders and enhancing collaboration with the African Union’s plans towards seamless border. African leaders are seeing travel and tourism as a way to boost the economic prosperity of the continent.

In stark contrast to Africa, the plans towards stronger border controls might weight heavily on America’s performance. Although seeing positive growth, US arrivals witnessed a slowdown in 2016 due to a strong dollar and political uncertainty surrounding the US elections. According to Euromonitor International’s Travel Forecast Model, if the US drops out the NAFTA and imposes a 35 percent tariff on Mexican imports, followed by Mexican retaliation, the impact on inter-regional travel would be considerable. New York, the most visited city in America and the only US city in the top ten most visited city ranking, has revised its 2017 forecast expecting a potential fall of 300,000 visitors, as a worst case scenario.


The top ten most visited cities are:











Source: Euromonitor International


Euromonitor International’s report drills down into the detail of the figures to highlight why some cities are performing better than others and how emerging trends are going to re-shape the travel industry and disrupt the ranking up to 2025.

Some of the key emerging travel trends identified by the report are:

Asia – Cashless Asia

Cities as Digital Investments

To ensure continued arrivals growth and sustainable expansion, Asia cities are streaming ahead with initiatives to become smart cities. A big step towards as “smarter” society and economy is the growth of digital payment facilities. Cryptocurrencies are here to stay. The impact on the travel industry could be immense, not only in the way people travel, but also by simplifying smart contracts.

Europe – Angels and EU-nicorns

Cities as a Start-Up

While overcrowding represents a key issue in many European cities, there is a growing drive amongst start-ups in Europe to address other pain points in travel. Some of the largest start-ups in travel originate from the US. However, the US is increasingly competing with European hubs for start-up talents and investment.

UK – Rail Revolution

Cities as connectors

Over half of the international travelers coming to the UK visit London. There is a major gap between London and the second city, Edinburgh, which has less than 10% of London’s arrivals. Making the rest of the UK more accessible is an important focus of the UK’s strategy with rail a key focus to achieve a better connectivity and movement of international visitors.

Americas – Recognize that face?

Cities as hubs of innovation

As part of his policy to tighten border control, US President Donald Trump has ordered increased speed in implementing biometric scanners at airports. The travel industry is not only looking at the face to merely identify a traveler, but also to tell travel players what it wants, through speech and emotion. Voice is widely lauded as the latest frontier, which would have big implications for travel.

MEA – Looking beyond borders

Cities as entry points

Performance in the Middle East and Africa has fluctuated greatly due to unrest in many countries. However, 2017 is expected to be a good year across the board. Dubai seems insulated from all the turmoil that is going on around it. The city’s tourism industry is booking and is adopting new technologies at rapid pace. Johannesburg is the only Sub-Saharan Africa city in the ranking. However, tourism is considered a pillar of its economic growth strategy and the city is investing heavily in technology.



Beauty and Personal Care in Australia Sees Strong Demand from Chinese Consumers

Thanks;Tim Foulds

Published;OCTOBER 30TH, 2017

Australia’s beauty and personal care market was supported by Chinese consumers, both local and international, who view Australian products with high regard. Chinese consumers are attracted to Australian products, not only in beauty and personal care but also in other industries including consumer health and packaged foods, which is due to the country’s clean and green reputation, strict regulations and quarantine control. Chinese consumers snapped up Australian-made beauty brands, particularly in skin care and bath and shower, with this trend supporting overall growth of the industry in 2016. Brands that resonate well with Chinese consumers are typically naturally positioned and feature natural ingredients.

Australian companies looked to capitalise on Chinese demand for Australian products, focusing on expanding their Chinese distribution as well as tailoring their products and retail stores to suit Chinese consumers. In 2016, chemist/pharmacy Amcal launched a Mandarin Chinese language version of its website, with the new store to ship orders from Australia to China. Australian online premium beauty retailer Adore Beauty opened a store on Chinese online platform Alibaba in 2016; however, the store was closed six months after opening, with the company to consider other channels to connect with Chinese consumers. Australian brand Goat Soap has become popular amongst Chinese consumers, with trade press reporting that the brand made AUD1 million in sales on China’s Singles’ day in 2016 through the company’s store on the Tmall platform.


The demand for Australian products is not expected to wane, with Australian-made and -owned companies to maintain their strong reputations locally and abroad. Australian-made products are more trusted and perceived as higher quality, with consumers willing to pay a premium for Australian-made. Australian companies will continue to focus on their China strategies, with an increasing number of sales expected to occur in China direct to consumers through Chinese e-commerce sites Tmall and An increasing number of Australian companies and retailers have opened their own sites through these channels, as they look to capitalise on the demand from Chinese consumers.

China provides promising export opportunities for Australian beauty and personal care companies, particularly given the challenging operating conditions in Australia with the high level of discounting activity. Natural skin care company BWX has seen success with its skin care brand Sukin, which has been performing strongly through drugstores/parapharmacies in Australia. The brand is a cruelty-free and vegan range featuring natural ingredients. BWX has been eyeing the Chinese market and has established Sukin flagship stores on online retailers and Tmall, as the company looks to increase brand awareness among Chinese consumers. Pental Products is also focusing on its China strategy through the export of its Australian-made Pental products, including its Country Life and Velvet soaps. The company has launched “The Australian Country Life” brand of goat’s milk soap for export to China, specifically tailored to this market.


Thousands turn out to see lavish funeral of Thailand’s late king

Thanks;Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Panu Wongcha-um

Published;WED OCT 25, 2017 / 9:00 PM EDT

Mourners wait for the start of the funeral procession for Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej before the Royal Cremation Ceremony in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, October 26, 2017.


(Reuters) – Thousands of people turned out in Bangkok to watch the funeral procession of Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday, with buildings draped in yellow marigolds and mourners lining the streets on the eve of his cremation.

Mourners dressed in black slept overnight on thin plastic mats on pavements near the Grand Palace in the Thai capital in order to secure a good view of the procession, which was expected to begin at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT).

The king’s cremation will feature ancient rites and a series of processions winding from the Grand Palace in Bangkok’s historic quarter to the 50-metre (165-feet) high Royal Crematorium that has been erected in a square near the palace.

His body will be pulled from the Grand Palace to the cremation site on a golden chariot. A sum of $90 million has been set aside for the funeral, the likes of which has never been seen in Thailand, officials in preparations have said.

King Bhumibol, also known as King Rama IX, died last October aged 88 after ruling for seven decades. He played a pivotal role in maintaining stability during years of political upheaval and rapid development.

Piyamat Potsopho, 38, said she had been waiting for the king’s funeral procession since Wednesday night.

“I was very fortunate to have been born under the reign of King Rama IX,” she said.

Another Bangkok resident, Suchinda Samparp, 67, said: “It’s so hard to describe the dedication I’ve seen, how people have come out to help each other and how the late king has inspired this.”

Analysts say the king’s death has left a large vacuum in the Thai psyche.

Thailand has observed a year of mourning for King Bhumibol and radio and television stations have played songs dedicated to the monarch almost non-stop since his death.

The songs urge Thais to follow in “father’s footsteps”.

King Bhumibol is often referred to as “father” by Thais and is credited with reviving the popularity of the monarchy in Thailand.

Days of heavy rain failed to deter mourners, many of whom pitched tents in order to gain the best access to the funeral.

Many businesses around the Southeast Asian nation were shut, while Bangkok’s old quarter was draped in floral garlands made of marigolds early. Some government buildings placed potted yellow marigolds around portraits of the late king.

King Bhumibol was born on a Monday, a day which Thais associate with the colour yellow.

Thai Buddhists traditionally keep the bodies of their dead for seven days before a cremation. Funerals of Thai royals, however, have historically taken place months after death.

(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Juarawee Kittisilpa; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Paul Tait)


Nobel Prize goes to behavioral economics pioneer Richard Thaler

Thanks;Barbara Kollmeyer

Published: Oct 9, 2017 6:09 am ET

Richard Thaler, professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for 2017. “In total, Richard Thaler’s contributions have built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making,” said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in handing out the prize, according to a press release on Monday. See also Richard Thaler: Here’s the best investing strategy. Thaler is considered one of the founding fathers of behavioral economics. See six books recommended by Thaler.


***Behavioral economics, along with the related sub-field behavioral finance, studies the effects of psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors on theeconomic decisions of individuals and institutions and the consequences for market prices, returns, and resource allocation, although not always that narrowly, …


Mexico’s Long Wait for Building Inspections

Thanks;Whitney Eulich

Published;Sept. 27, 2017, at 11:01 a.m

Mexico City — Once Eduardo Mijares and his team of young architects and engineers completed their preliminary inspection of the vast public market Mercado Argentina following the Sept. 19 earthquake, the real work began.

When community members noticed the group of volunteers, decked out in neon work vests and hard hats, they didn’t hesitate to approach.

“Could you come to my house? It’s just around the corner,” one woman asked, poking her head out of the window of her natural foods stall. “When are you coming to look at the school? Can we send our kids on Monday?” a man called out as the group left.

Photos: Earthquake Rocks Mexico

Mexico City fared far better last week than it did on the same day in 1985, when a magnitude 8.1 quake leveled buildings across the city and left thousands dead. But there is still plenty of destruction, with some 40 buildings collapsing and trapping residents, and thousands more suffering damage, officials say. Some 194 people died in Mexico City alone – 27 of them children, according to the mayor. The total number of casualties has climbed to more than 330.

The city is just beginning the long process of deciding which structures will stay and which must go. Some residents have already learned their homes are uninhabitable, moving in with family or sleeping in temporary shelters, while others are trying to decide if they even want to risk a return to damaged – but possibly repairable – properties.

It’s not a quick process, and it’s taking a toll on jittery residents, on edge once again after a 6.1 aftershock swayed the city the following weekend. The inspections could result in many more families permanently losing their homes, and the process creates a test for public institutions that have historically been susceptible to corruption. Some estimate it could take months – or even a year – before at-risk buildings start to come down. Many see this as a dangerous proposition.

But for others, they’d rather avoid certain streets and leaning buildings if it means ensuring that they’re thoroughly checked for signs of building code violations before vital evidence is demolished into a pile of rubble.

When the earth started to shake on Sept. 19, employees in a fifth-floor office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood evacuated past broken support beams and shattered walls.

The asset manager for the building, Rafael Espeja, immediately put out calls for an inspection, he says. An inspector with qualifications recognized by the city arrived the next day, deeming the structure, built in 1962, in need of demolition. Several support columns were floating a few inches off the ground. The neighboring building is evacuated for the time being, due to the risk of the office falling.

“That’s why we are rushing with authorities and the insurance company to tear this down as soon as possible. If there’s an aftershock, it could collapse,” Espeja says.

But, according to Felix Villaseñor, the president of Mexico City’s professional association of architects, even pressing cases like this one may not see any concrete action in terms of demolition for at least a month. Others put the estimate, given the flood of damage and layers of paperwork involved, closer to a year.

Mexico City’s secretary of civil protection, Fausto Lugo, announced this week that there have been more than 10,000 buildings inspected so far, with at least 500 in need of demolition or major reconstruction, and another roughly 1,300 in need of repair. The city said it would initially make available some 3 billion pesos ($1.7 million) of its emergency response fund to help support victims of the quake and reconstruction efforts.

But the priority at the moment is putting resources toward search and rescue.

“We’re getting an impressive number of requests for inspections,” Villaseñor says. The majority are coming via an online form, which at one point had so much traffic that Google shut down the page, suspecting the deluge of requests were spam.

But for those living next door to damaged buildings, the idea of waiting even another day instills more anxiety. In the hard-hit Condesa neighborhood, Lorena Irita Ruiz, 52, looks up at a formerly eight-story building. Brass railings and window frames protrude over the sidewalk in a twisted pile of right angles after one floor collapsed onto another in the quake.

“And if we have a strong aftershock?” asks Ruiz, who is walking back from volunteering at a support center set up in the nearby Parque Mexico. “There are neighboring buildings, people on the street, we’re all in danger while this kind of building remains,” she says before a soldier patrolling the area asks her not to loiter.

After Mexico City’s 1985 quake, building codes were modernized, matching or exceeding global standards for quake-prone cities. But implementation isn’t always enforced.

A 2015 study of Mexico City building code compliance found that “It would appear that the regulator is not performing its duty” in ensuring the enforcement of building standards. Many of the mid-rise buildings evaluated in the study were found not to meet even minimum requirements of the capital’s strict – at least on paper – codes.

Although inspectors doing the first take on damaged structures after Tuesday’s quake say it appears that most buildings that fell or had significant damage were from prior to 1985, there were newer buildings in the mix, as well, underscoring the presence of corruption.

A brand new building in the Portales neighborhood crumbled in the quake, with engineers and architects at the building location reporting that the columns weren’t built to code, according to Mexican news site Animal Politico. Two people died in the collapse.

“Some people are noting the differences between today and 1985 and saying, ‘Look, there’s clear evidence of improvement,'” says Paul Lagunes, an assistant professor at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs, who specializes in corruption and corruption control.

“That’s fair. But 1985 was an extremely low bar…. Yes, we are doing better, but not as well as we should be.”

In front of the Association of Architects, a line of nearly 100 eager volunteers fills the sidewalk. They’re mostly recent graduates or young professionals hoping to contribute their engineering and architecture skills to the earthquake relief efforts. But it’s also a professional development opportunity, as teams of less experienced volunteers are matched with experts like Mijares to conduct an inspection.

Back at the Mercado Argentina, Mijares hasn’t identified any structural damage. But he found the experience heartening. He served as a volunteer on a team like this one when he was a young architect in 1985.

“These kids know far more about building safety than I did at that point in my career,” he says. “I’m hopeful.”


New Lifestyles System Data: 2017 Global Consumer Trends Survey Results

Thanks;  Euromonitor Research

Published; SEPTEMBER 28TH, 2017

images (2)

We are excited to announce that the latest consumer survey results from the 2017 Global Consumer Trends survey are now live in the Lifestyles dashboard in our Passport database. Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends surveys help companies stay ahead of a fast-changing consumer landscape by reaching out to internet-connected consumers from across the globe, then translating the results into comprehensive analysis and actionable opportunities.

Euromonitor International’s latest Global Consumer Trends survey data reveals a multitude of information about the 2017 consumer. With a global environment of rapid change and constant innovation, it is no surprise that consumer’s lifestyles are adapting quickly. The megatrend analysis enables Euromonitor International to identify emerging trends, while also monitoring how long-term megatrends are shaping the world. These megatrends are applicable to this year’s survey results.  Read on to learn more about the five key trends shaping consumer lifestyles.

Experience More

Millennials lead the way in trading the accumulation of things for experiences, particularly authentic, international travel opportunities. However, all consumers of all ages are looking for more time to relax.

Middle Class Retreat

Shopping preferences vary widely across markets and consumer segments, with some focused on buying fewer, high quality products and others succumbing to the pull of bargain hunting.

Connected Consumers

Consumers must now balance the benefits of ever-present internet access with added stresses and challenges to focus on “real world” activities.

Healthy Living

While consumers across the globe have nearly-endless access to health and wellness information, those with higher education are most likely to take advantage of tech advancements and opportunities to research and monitor their health.


Meal preparation from scratch is often the first thing to go as consumers juggle priorities, particularly among younger consumers who are more likely to turn to meal preparation kits or delivery / takeaway options that offer convenience and premium ingredients.

To learn more about the latest Lifestyles trends, download our free survey extract or request a demonstration of Passport. If you’re a current client, the full system refresher highlighting key survey findings across all major consumer lifestyles areas can be found in the Lifestyles system in Passport.



Is the open office layout dead?

Thanks;April Kilcrease

Published;August 10, 2017

The open office layout is meant to foster an egalitarian work environment that inspires creativity and spontaneous collaboration among colleagues. Nearly 60 years since their invention, an increasing body of research is beginning to show what many employees already know—open offices often fall short of that ideal.

How we got here

A pair of German brothers developed the original open office in 1958. Gone were managers’ private offices and underlings’ rows of desks. Instead, the new design featured clusters of desks based on departments. By removing physical barriers, the designers were convinced that communication and ideas would flow freely.

Less than a decade later, Herman Miller chief executive Robert Propst invented the cubicle and the walls returned. Propst criticized the open office as a wasteland that “saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment.” He envisioned his cubicles as a way to liberate workers by providing them with privacy and personal space.

Unfortunately, most businesses downgraded his roomy, flexible designs to the depressing, but less expensive, warren of beige cubicles that we all know now. (In a 1998 interview, Propst himself accused companies of manipulating his original idea into “hellholes.”)

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Today, the open office layout is back with a vengeance. In a 2013 survey by CoreNet Global, an association for corporate real estate managers, more than 80% of respondents said their company had moved toward an open space floor plan. And once again, the backlash has begun. In the last five years, a slew of articles with alarmist titles like “Death To The Open Office Floor Plan!” and “Open-plan offices were devised by Satan in the deepest caverns of hell” have assailed the supposedly progressive design.

So what exactly is wrong with the modern open office layout and how can we create spaces that fulfill the promise of a happy and collaborative workplace?

What isn’t working

By design, colleagues are more accessible in an open office layout. The minute a question pops into your head, you can easily hop over to a co-worker’s desk, or simply swivel your chair to face them. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned intrusions can lead to real problems.

First among those is reduced productivity. According to a study on the cost of interrupted work, a typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes. Even worse, people often take up to 25 minutes to refocus on the original task.

And without physical barriers to block it out, noise may be the number one problem with open office plans. Together, loud phone talkers, gossipy co-workers, and that guy chomping on an apple every afternoon can frazzle your auditory system. Researchers have found that the loss of productivity due to noise distraction doubles in open office layouts compared to private offices, and open office noise reduces the ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic.

As anyone who’s had to call their doctor from their desk knows, one of the worst parts of open office layouts is that you can’t control who you hear—or who hears you. In a 2013 study about the privacy-communication trade-off in open offices, 60% of cubicle workers and half of all employees in partitionless offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem.

Along with these frustrations, open offices are actually making people sick. A study on the association between sick days and open office plans found that people working in open offices took 62% more sick days than those in private offices. And remember all those interruptions that workers experience in open offices? In a survey in the International Journal of Stress Management, employees who were frequently interrupted reported 9% higher rates of exhaustion.

The office of the future is here

Clearly, open office layouts aren’t the hotbeds of creativity designers originally hoped they would be. And with office space at a premium, private offices for everyone isn’t a realistic alternative, nor is it ideal. The ebb and flow of effective collaboration requires several types of spaces. As workplace experts outlined in the Harvard Business Review, employees tend to generate ideas and process information alone or in pairs, then come together in a larger group to build on those ideas, and then disperse again to take the next steps.

Luckily, the solution is fairly simple—design offices with a variety of areas to suit different kinds of work, including communal hubs and meeting rooms for group work, and smaller private spaces, where people can put their heads down and concentrate. Then give employees the freedom to choose between these places throughout the day.

The best place to start? Talk to your people. When companies understand what types of environments their employees need to do their best work, they can design better offices to meet these needs. Engineers who spend hours brainstorming in small groups don’t always need the same sorts of dedicated spaces for focused concentration as copy editors or financial analysts. Here are three of the more progressive ways to make your space suit your employees:

Privacy pods. Perhaps the most powerful and popular trend in the move away from open offices is an increased number of small private spaces. These include soundproof glass rooms, which provide quiet refuges, while keeping the airy feel of an open office layout, as well as so-called “phone booths,” closet-sized spaces for focused solo work and confidential meetings between two people.

Zoning. Along with building more private nooks, companies are now replacing traditional conference rooms with a greater range of meeting spaces. These include alcoves where groups of three to four co-workers can gather for a meeting on the fly, and team meeting spaces for five to eight people that can be booked in advance or saved for groups that meet frequently. Businesses can also cut down on unwanted distractions by dividing floor plans into neighborhoods based on expected noise levels and locating chattier departments, such as sales and operations, far away from quieter teams. Using desks, shelving, and large plants to create more labyrinthian configurations reduces auditory and visual distractions as well.

No designated desks. Today’s mobile communication tools allow people to work from anywhere, opening up the entire building as a potential workplace. You may want the buzz of energy that a cafe or atrium can provide. Other times, you may find that setting up shop in the fresh air can lead to fresh perspectives.

Moreover, according to the architecture and design firm Gensler, “employers who offer choice in when and where to work have workers who are 12% more satisfied with their jobs and report higher effectiveness scores.”

These kinds of setups—where people have the autonomy to work in the areas that best suit their tasks and temperaments at any given moment—may just be what offices need. With them, companies can finally achieve the freedom and exchange of ideas promised by the original open office of the 1950s. And that can give us something we can all agree on: workplaces that work for all employees.


Robotics in Rural Lithuania

Thanks:Nikolaj Ambrusevic

Published;AUGUST 31ST, 2017

One of our charity partners in Lithuania, Robotikos Mokykla (Robotic School), recently invited us to participate in a workshop in the tiny village of Karvys, 30km north of Vilnius. Robotic School is a charity working primarily with young people to foster an interest in STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) through engaging and practical workshops. The project also aims to create a safe space for young people and help develop social and other skills.

The main idea of this session was to reach out to young people who cannot go to organised classes and who have little access to the internet at home. Robotic School’s enthusiasts Jonas and Evaldas told us not to expect much from the workshop as the majority of rural children are busy helping their parents with agricultural and other duties, so computers and other devices are mainly used just for entertainment.


During the workshop, tools based on simple programming for creating animation and games were introduced to two groups of young people from 5-12 years, and 16-18 years. While the younger group were creating their very first cartoon, the teenagers had a chance to get familiar with micro bit programming. Although the majority of participants had little knowledge of computer technologies, they showed a huge interest in programming and shared positive feedback afterwards. It was good to observe how small achievements in a new digital environment changed their attitude, making them more focused and persistent.

The social workers of the club were amazed by the overall impact of our visit and were keen to run similar activities again in the future. I was so glad to be a part of it and am proud that Euromonitor is supporting Robotic School through our CSR programme.