This week, the advertising guys at a top consultant turn to drink, and Carillion’s shareholders might be tempted to follow suit, but site workers have moved on to cappuccinos and lattes – doubtless with semi-skimmed milk

My family and other animals

As an ardent animal lover, I was delighted to hear of an L&Q build-to-rent development going up in Sutton, south London, which makes the bold claim of being “pet friendly”. The 13-storey tower block, called Seventeen, will be able to accommodate tenants’ four-legged chums. However, accompanying interior photos of the new flats, illustrating top-of-the-range integrated kitchens and sumptuous bedrooms, featured not one cat, dog or even a chinchilla. I would have thought a shot of a slinky Siamese cat or a feisty French bulldog lounging on a sofa would have been perfect. There is also the question of how Kitty or Fido get in and out of the building in order to take some air. Or do their business. Maybe a dedicated pet lift? With the floor buttons very low down?

Turning to drink

In my day, builders would drink pints of beer to keep them going on a building site. Then the health and safety brigade stepped in and tea took over. Builder’s tea. The stuff you could stand a spoon up in. Now it seems even this has been usurped by that most hip of hot drinks: coffee. Barratt Developments recently surveyed workers on its building sites as part of its backing for Macmillan Cancer Support’s World Coffee Morning, held last week. Coffee came out on top, attracting 48% of the votes, while fruit tea garnered a mere 2%, thankfully. Barratt helpfully provided some top tips on making the best cup of tea. “Use fresh water, stir in both directions and squeeze the teabag.” For goodness’ sake, have they never heard of loose-leaf Darjeeling?

What a performance!

Carillion’s shareholders have seen the value of their stake take an absolute pasting in the past few months, and it remains to be seen if their mood will be lightened by the troubled contractor’s less-than-wholesome interim results, published last week. The firm, which will be taking more than £1bn-worth of provisions this year on a number of construction and services contracts, announced a new corporate structure along with a slimmed-down group executive, following a strategic review by beancounters EY. What particularly caught my eye – which has become somewhat jaundiced by all the shenanigans surrounding the company since the summer – was the bold statement that, along with increased transparency and something called “line-of-sight accountability”, in future “reward will be aligned to performance”. It’s nice to see that corporate responsibility is alive and well in Wolverhampton. 

Rigid on flexibility

Construction is known in some circles to be a tad behind the curve of what might be termed “modern working practices”, so I was interested to read the latest Hays UK Gender Diversity Report, which showed that 76% of workers in the industry said the option of flexible working hours was “important” to them. So far so good. However, two-thirds believed that taking up these options would actually stymie their career, while in a gender reversal of sorts, nearly a third of men employed in the sector believed their professionalism would be called into question if they worked to a flexible hours work schedule. Richard Gelder, director of Hays Construction & Property, said that while it was clear flexible working was important to both sexes, they were still worried about the “negative impact of a leave of absence”. 

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Line ’em up

Could one of the industry’s consultants be about to launch itself into the consumer market? One of my hacks went along to an Alinea event last week to find that in addition to branded watches – which one of the firm’s partners came up with a while back – the consultant has now branched out into branded beer (left) and sweets, which were dotted about the Borough Market venue. A savvy move with the current cycle in work drawing to an end, or just a nice touch to an event that saw several of the industry’s top clients in attendance? 

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