23 Feb 2018

Nextgen 'Future of the Workplace' exhibition at Foyles | Twitter Highlights

"The office of 2035: what will it look like and how will it support the way we will work?

The British Council for Offices NextGen Workplace Design Competition invited teams of young professionals to provide considered, forward-thinking, and innovative ideas for the office of the future that challenge the status quo of today’s workplaces.

Where will we work? How will we work? How will our lives impact our workplaces?"

The various concepts are on display at the “Future of Workplace” Competition Exhibition at the Gallery at Foyles, Level 5, 107 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB until the 21st March, 2018.

12 Jan 2018

2018 preview: Expert forecasts including Richard Kauntze and Ken Shuttleworth in Property Week

Read the full 2018 preview: Expert forecasts including Richard Kauntze and Ken Shuttleworth in Property Week.

Richard Kauntze
Chief executive, British Council for O­ffices

"I hope to see the industry continuing to drive the debate around the positive role the workplace can play in the prosperity of UK business. In times of economic and political uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that we understand and demonstrate how the right workplace can add value to a business, rather than being viewed simply as a cost. An exemplary o­ffice can strengthen a ‑ firm’s brand and reputation, and help drive more e­fficient and productive working.

I expect to see the conversation around health and wellness in the workplace increase and become more sophisticated. The line between our work and personal lives has long been blurred, but there is now broader recognition that addressing this, and improving employee health and wellness, will be a key factor in helping to solve the UK’s productivity puzzle. Consequently, there will be a need to develop more effective ways of measuring employee health and wellness. This should allow us, as an industry, to become better equipped at designing healthy workplaces that encourage wellness and facilitate productive working.

Resolution - To focus on the issue of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We want to play a greater role in this debate and, as such, have chosen the issue as the theme of our annual conference, which for 2018 will be in Berlin. We’ll be interrogating how o­ffice environments can help progress the diversity agendas of their occupants, and how we can ensure the workplaces we are creating embrace and engage all employees."

Ken Shuttleworth
Founder, Make Architects (and BCO President)

"I’ve been very inspired by some of the buildings delivered in London this year; my hope is that these don’t dry up as the country braces itself for Brexit. The temptation is to batten down the hatches, but, to my mind, it is now more important than ever to show the world we intend to stay a global hub for business and will continue to create market leading commercial stock to accommodate firms that want to be part of that.

I think we’ll see much more around the issues of wellness and their natural spin-offs into coworking and co-living as we look to create inspirational, comfortable and adaptable places in which to work and live. It is fascinating how technology is playing such a role in shaping our built environment, and collaboration to design buildings and spaces will become ever more important to facilitate this. I’m really looking forward to the BCO Berlin conference and its focus on diversity. Never more important than now.

Resolution - We’re strategising at Make for the next 12 to 18 months and it’s so interesting to see what different people view as being a real focus and passion for them. All different, all important, all showing where their talents and strengths lie. My resolution is to try and help facilitate this wherever possible and, for Make, to grow our international profile and portfolio."

As seen in Property Week.

1 Dec 2017

Research launch and seminar: The Productive Office

On Wednesday around 100 BCO members attended the launch of ‘The Productive Office’ at CMS, Cannon Street, London to participate in a thought-provoking discussion. The physical environment is understood to be a critical factor when it comes to productivity in offices and ultimately the success and longevity of leading companies. The latest BCO research examines how the physical design and management of offices can influence both individual and organisational productivity.

The first part of the seminar focused specifically on workplace design and the research findings were presented by Adam Mactavish of Currie & Brown who lead the BCO’s latest work ‘Defining and measuring productivity in offices’. Adam shared valuable insights on the work they have been carrying out over the last four months with special thanks to Ramidus Consulting and Despina Katsikakis who added valuable industry experience looking at the influence of the workplace itself on productivity with examples. A series of interviews and workshops took place with people in the supply chain. Productivity seems to be the buzz word at the moment and is either the source of all scepticism or the source of all opportunity depending on your perspective.

Adam spoke about some of the lower hanging fruit that makes a valuable contribution to productivity, that which is readily available to us now, and opportunities that we are already aware of as property professionals improving productivity in UK offices. Adam questioned whether we were doing it as widely and routinely across the UK as we could. Those involved in corporate real estate are often more focused on the cost of property rather than the opportunity the property presents to them.

Adam began by addressing the definition of productivity in offices and how we can go about measuring and improving it. The report hopes to encourage industry professionals to occupy more productive workplaces or to improve the workplaces they are currently in. There was a deliberate attempt not to replicate the tremendous amount of research on productivity already out there. The study instead provides a framework that people can use when discussing productivity so as an industry we are consistent in our approach.

The report covers the influence of the workplace on productivity and stresses that although the office itself is important, it is only one of several dimensions. There are short sections on the value of productivity, recognising productivity and measurement of productivity in the workplace. Starting with the influence of the workplace, the report looks at the office as a tool to deliver change within an organization, to help embody the company culture, provide facilities and at its heart provide the opportunity for people to be able to do their work well. As ever, it’s also about attracting and retaining the best people. The report covers the many factors which influence engagement with the workplace. There are many buildings toured at every BCO conference and there have been examples of companies trying to adopt agile working practices while not having sufficient WiFi to enable people to move from place to place and connect properly. Kate Vine of Perkins + Will brought this up later in the panel discussion- ‘We love to design beautiful spaces, but also - the technology has to work and the environment has to be healthy for the office to be productive’.

Session 2 of the seminar was dedicated to the impact of environmental qualities on productivity.  In this section LCMB together with their Consortium Partners (including the BCO) outlined their interim findings on WLP+ (The Whole Life Performance) project, funded by Innovate UK.  The project seeks to empirically validate the link between indoor environmental conditions and staff utilisation, output and absenteeism, by demonstrating the solution in three commercial case study buildings where there is available data on staff productivity. 

Managing Director of LCMB, John O’Brian, kicked off the introduction to WLP+ saying that productivity in the UK has flat-lined since 2008. The industrial partners included Argent, Kings College London, EMCOR UK, Constructing Excellence, and the academic lead Rajat Gupta of Oxford Brooks University. Members were shown the results we are starting to see and Rajat presented some early findings and insights around office air quality and the impact this has on productivity. For the last 17 years they have studied over 200 buildings and concluded that when occupants are satisfied with their indoor environment, productivity levels increase.

Steve Dolan, Senior Account Director, EMCOR UK presented the first case study which covered the NATS analysis and the correlation between facilities management and productivity. EMCOR UK is the FM provider for NATS, one of the trial sites for the study. A second case study followed from Nick O’Donnell, Director of Estates & Facilities, King’s College London. Nick went over how a drop in oxygen in their office directly affected staff performance and while basic, an improvement in morale and productivity was seen once there was an increase in oxygen levels. Lastly Peter Runacres, Senior Projects Director from Argent presented a third case study before the panel closed with a Q&A. Peter made mention of the levels of CO2 being extraordinarily high in meeting rooms where staff should be most productive, for example in a board meeting.

WLP+ is a benchmark approach. It aims for the tested solution to then be developed into a software-based supervisory control and reporting solution operating in a cloud environment, with the capability to reset the controlled environment to maximise occupant productivity and comfort conditions, whilst minimising energy and fuel use and costs in commercial office environments. Learn more about how the WLP+ project is progressing: https://www.wlpplus.com/project-overview/

-Access the BCO research page and download the report.

-Follow the conversation on Twitter .

-Photo by Timothy Soar

8 Nov 2017

Top Tips From the Judges for entering The BCO Awards 2018

We have asked the Judging Chairs, what advice they would give someone planning to submit an entry for the 2018 Awards. Here are their answers:

Nigel Clark, Hilson Moran - National Judging Chair
Nigel's top tip: "Set out your entry clearly and concisely and use the questions in the entry guide to explain to the judges what sets your project apart from other entries. Focus not just on the building, but also on the impact and change the project has delivered."

Ian Aldous, Arcadis - Northern Judging Chair
Ian's top tip: "The awards are about recognising excellence in the workplace, and one specific area of focus should be the impact it has - on the people that work there, the businesses that operate from there and the local community that surrounds it."

Alistair Allison, Tuffin Ferraby Taylor - South of England & South Wales Judging Chair
Alistair's top tip: "A successful office development needs a clear brief and it is important for this to be explained to the judges and to show how the design, construction and commercial solutions have been tailored to suit this. Also, highlight areas of the project that stand out."

David Dool, Cooper Cromar - Scottish Judging Chair
David's top tip: "As the BCO Awards are the benchmark for defining excellence in the workplace, submissions should, in addition to answering the 'Judges Questions', convey what sets the project apart in terms of its speciality and appeal to occupiers. A strong, factual and passionate submission generally reflects the excellence of the project and sets the scene for shortlisting and the judges' visits."

Nick Searl, Argent - London Judging Chair
Nick's top tip: "Make sure that your submission allows the judges to see what makes your building or fit out unique and special. Be proud of what you've done, show us the passion that went into making it and let your answers demonstrate why you think it's a winner." 

Rob Van Zyl, Cundall - Midlands & Central England Judging Chair
Rob's top tip: "Always answer all the questions, even if you feel your submission is weak in one area. The judges award points for every question. For example, if your building only achieved a moderate EPC score, still state what it achieved rather than avoiding the question. Better to get a few points than none in weak areas."

To enter your project for the awards simply register on our entry website www.bcoawards.co.uk and create an entry. Entries are submitted online in three easy stages:

1. Enter project details
2. Answer the 'Judges Questions' as outlined in the entry guide
3. Upload 10 images and submit

19 Oct 2017

Office Service Standards and Customer Experience: A best practice guide

It’s just 2 years since BCO published its ground-breaking report Building Performance – Rethinking the Relationship between Owners, Managers and Occupiers. The report set out a 10-point action plan to improve stakeholder relations and remove much of the friction that frustrates corporate occupiers. “Office Service Standards and Customer Experience: a best practice guide” highlights the revolution currently occurring in the property industry’s approach to delivering service, based on customers’ requirements ‘from space as a commodity’ to ‘space as service’. It also forms the basis for a consultation with the BCO members on the format of a new BCO Customer Experience Award which will recognise those owners and their managers that are running buildings in a truly innovative and customer focused way. 

The research identified the need for change and articulates benefits for both owners and occupiers in adapting a new and inclusive approach that is more engaging and in line with a customer service and satisfaction ethos across other industries. Office owners, managers and occupiers were engaged with to define and communicate what the industry should be delivering by way of effective and efficient building services that match a significant improvement in building and workplace design and quality in recent years.

We participated in the debate and discussion at the breakfast seminar held on the 17th October at UBS, Broadgate, London sponsored by British Land, LGIM Real Assets, CBRE and Broadgate Estates. The panel was joined by Polly Plunket (Property Management Director, Broadgate Estates) Debbie Hobbs (Head of Sustainability, LGIM Real Assets) Danny Harte (Senior Director, CBRE) and Gary Wingrove (Projects and Construction Director, BT Facilities Services). 

As recent PhD research by Dr Danielle Sanderson shows, there is a clear commercial case for investing in building strong relationships with occupiers. I am excited that there is evidence that our attention is now shifting from a viewpoint of ‘What’s wrong with the way we do things?’ to ‘How we can make things better for our occupier customers?’ That’s why this latest report is designed to provide those forward-thinking property owners and managers who want to change their approach with practical guidance in the form of checklists, scorecards and case studies. These will measure how well an office building is performing, viewed from the perspective of the owner, property manager and occupier.

The checklists, designed to help property owners, managers and occupiers understand what best practice looks like, follow the broad structure of the RealService ‘Best Practice Framework’ and cover the following areas: customer experience culture, customer insight and service design, collaboration with service partners, leadership & training, operational excellence, and, performance measurement.

There has never been a more apt time for our industry to get close to our customers – the price to pay for missing this opportunity is potentially great. Who could have predicted the seismic shifts in the political, economic, social and technical worlds that we have seen over the past 18 months? If ever there was a time to stick close to your customers it’s now!

Other industries have learned the hard way that failure to innovate and to follow the customer is a sure-fire way to attract the attention of the business disruptors – like Uber, eBay, Amazon, Airbnb, etc. The office industry is seeing new entrant disruptors like WeWork and The Office Group transform the experience of the workplace.

-Chris Richmond, PwC Chair, BCO Occupier Group

For more information on Office Service Standards and Customer Experience or to download the report, access the BCO research page.

13 Oct 2017

Plotting The Future

“In the age before computers, architects were regularly in trouble for getting their hand-drawn perspectives completely wrong.” The BCO’s Urban Group held an interesting debate at U+I’s offices on the future effect that technology may have on the way we plan the development of our cities. We discussed the benefits and constraints of ‘Computerised London’ following presentations on new technology and 3D Models.

As the sophistication of technology improves, our interaction with the world around us becomes more natural and comfortable. With computerised tools, the emphasis is very much on the visual, with every step in the process clearly illustrated. The basic tutorials cover the essentials of tools and then move on to a discussion of components which are vital if you are to use them efficiently.

Vu.City, creators of highly accurate, fully interactive 3D digital city models, gave the audience a preview of their London mapping software, demonstrating the immediate benefits to the property profession of an instant and current 3D model of our capital. The ability to place yourself anywhere in or over London and assess the past, current and future built environment from your laptop is powerful in itself. There is then endless potential to add programmes and information to analyse and test site potential accurately and quickly.

In the property industry this could help Planners and Politicians assess and inform policy, while reducing the burden on every developer to reproduce information time and time again for planning applications and site assessments. Add real time data from the network of cameras and receptors around our city and there is a real time model of London that could be useful to other professions and businesses. Peter Barbalov, Architect and Design Partner at Farrells, outlined the evolution of urban design and articulated the importance of man working with machine, using technology to optimise decision making and test creativity.

Peter Wynne Rees CBE, Professor of Places & City Planning, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment was charged with challenging the advance of technology and he warned of the dangers of losing human touch and personal authenticity. Questions over the control of the technology and the accountability for accuracy were raised. However, Peter conceded that if such a tool could help the ‘developer’ work with the Planners at an earlier stage in the design development process, and there was greater clarity over planning guidance and decision making, then this would be a welcomed initiative.

Questions were raised about ownership of such a powerful model, and the responsibility and accountability for authentication of outputs.  This is a topic that will run its course but anything that increases efficiency in the planning process and helps with the interpretation of policy will reduce development cost and help make UK PLC more competitive.

The 3D model gives us a whole new perspective on buildings. We can check the interior layout, model sunlight at various times of the day, and get an estimate of the outdoor area. Instructing architects and the builders is likely to become easier than ever before. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what difference can an interactive 3D model make?

-Duncan Trench, BCO Chairman of the Urban Group.

For more information on the Urban Group or to view upcoming BCO seminars access the BCO Research page.