Chief Executive, The British Council for Offices (BCO)
The purpose of the office has been transformed and is evolving alongside the role of ‘office work,’ and it should benefit both the workforce and local community.
“The built environment is the only unavoidable art,” says Lord Deben, Former Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, in a gathering of experts involved in the development of offices. Addressing the British Council for Offices (BCO) ESG London Conference, he also acknowledges that the industry is not just there to create buildings and is, fundamentally, about providing workspaces for people.
Offices that inspire employees
The office is no longer the only place where we go to work, and ‘pure work’ is no longer the only reason to go to the office, which is rapidly becoming a hub of inspiration and innovation — a place where connection, community and collaboration are concentrated.
We must harness the new role of the office to provide places for people to thrive. By that, I do not just mean the people working in the building but the wider community, too. The best offices not only support a sustainable and productive work culture and enhance employee wellbeing but also engage with their surrounding communities in meaningful and impactful ways.
Delivering social value is not just a ‘nice thing to do’
— it makes good business sense. Numerous
surveys have shown that the next generation
of talent is seeking greater purpose.
Creating a positive impact on communities
Barclays’ new Glasgow campus, crowned the ‘Best of the Best’ at this year’s BCO Awards, is a great example of how a workplace can deliver benefits for both the people who work there and those who live nearby, through considered placemaking and social initiatives. Welcoming the public, the campus includes a new city centre park, a sustainability education centre, community spaces designed for social enterprises and local entrepreneurs and an Eagle Lab to support Glasgow tech startups.
Barclays is one particularly impressive example, but making a social impact is high on the agenda for most organisations. Forward-thinking businesses recognise that offices are not spaceships. If a building — or campus — connects to the wider city, it can have a transformative and lasting effect on broader communities and local economies.
Fulfilling modern workforce goals
Delivering social value is not just a ‘nice thing to do’ — it makes good business sense. Numerous surveys have shown that the next generation of talent is seeking greater purpose in their jobs and prepared to turn down an employer unlikely to offer them the opportunity to make a difference. In the new world of work, the office is at the centre of unlocking true value for people.