The British Council for Offices has been established for over 25 years; looking back at how the workplace has changed over this time is a fascinating illustration of office evolution.  

As the way people work is increasingly shaped by technology, businesses look to promote their flexible and agile working policies in a bid to attract and retain the brightest talent. For many, the days of working a ‘nine to five’ or clocking in and out are far behind them, as tools like cloud-based servers and video conferencing increasingly blur the boundaries of home and work life, allowing us to work easily and efficiently with colleagues wherever they are.


Tech advances can challenge traditional office space


Advances in technology improve many aspects of how we work, but can also be a challenge in terms of the pace of change and readiness of businesses to adapt. The new flexibility this has afforded also puts the workspaces to the test, but this has provoked designers, developers and architects to rework, evolve and ultimately improve on the traditional office. By delivering modern, functional and collaborative spaces from which to work, the office can become an aspirational space that brings people together.

Through the right space, employees are empowered to access the knowledgebase of the whole workforce, while building stronger bonds with colleagues through face to face interactions. From the trend for more dedicated breakout spaces, to larger reception areas or café extensions, the increase in square footage allocated to non-desk space highlights how the office is evolving to meet innovative approaches to collaborative working.


Empowering employees: The Edge Building, Amsterdam


The Edge building in Amsterdam is a case study in what’s possible, and shows how the future workplace can add value to a business. The office, mainly occupied by Deloitte, has 28,000 sensors to equip the workforce with the ability to have individual control over temperature, lighting and blinds, and the means to easily book meeting rooms, open lockers and reserve desks. This level of control was once unheard of in an office and remains at the cutting edge of innovation rather than being commonplace, but points to a future where offices deliver new levels of flexibility and customisation to adapt to the people and tasks it must serve. In doing so, we look to how the office can add value to a business by boosting productivity, rather than being viewed simply as a cost.

When looking to the future of the office, it is difficult to predict with great accuracy what we’ll see. The pace of change with technology, and the ability to be much more flexible in how we create and use office space will define the continual evolution of the offices we work from. At the same time, we’re already seeing great examples of future-proofed spaces.


UK offices push innovation


In the past few weeks, the BCO’s Regional Awards have showcased the best of modern and innovative workspaces, including newly created or refurbished offices, and those which have truly stood the test of time.

The achievements of these buildings and the teams behind them is just one example of where we see the UK office sector truly pushing boundaries, challenging conventions, and leading in innovation. From London to Leeds, the winning workplaces show a bright future for the office.

This week we host our Annual Conference in London, bringing together over 500 people involved in the design, build, ownership, management and occupation of offices in the UK, to share insight and debate how London needs to refocus to remain strong in the challenging geo-political climate. Our capital is an unrivalled mixing pot of creativity, entrepreneurialism and culture, so much of which is driven by a thriving economy which relies on the right offices and workspaces to house it. In providing a modern, collaborative environment, the office of the future can reflect that mixing pot and in doing so enjoy continued success.