Chief Executive, the British Council for Offices (BCO)
Examining the role that the office plays in our built environment has never been more important.
The next BCO conference in Dublin will explore the evolving role of the office as a vital part of an ecosystem, blending work, life, technology and data to ensure the social, economic and environmental sustainability of cities.
Social impact is high on the agenda for all organisations as they face the challenge of navigating a volatile economy and attracting and retaining talent while delivering ESG targets. The best offices will not only support a sustainable and productive work culture and employee wellbeing but also engage with their surrounding communities in impactful ways.
Our recent research reports have investigated many mission-critical themes. In our ‘Future of UK Office Densities’ paper, we recommend a new method for calculating the amount of space needed per person in the post-Covid-19 world of work. It suggests that, before the Covid-19 pandemic, densities were being pushed too far, and employees should reasonably expect more space when they are in the office. A new ‘sweet spot’ of 10–12m2 per person reflects the significant increase in people working from home and hot-desking when in the office, while simultaneously ensuring that office workspaces meet employees’ requirements, promote productivity and reduce carbon emissions.
Offices account for 15% of the total
commercial property sector’s waste and
44% of the construction sector’s waste.
The broader futureproofing of our office buildings is just as important. In our most recent investigation, we provide circular economy guidance to the office sector in relation to new-build, refurbishment and fit‑out. ‘Circular Economy in Offices’ sets out how offices can be designed and constructed to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials as well as regenerate nature.
The research focuses on three circularity principles: retain what is already there, extend the life of materials and reduce the impact of anything introduced. The construction sector is one of the largest consumers of materials and produces more waste than any other sector in the UK. Offices account for 15% of the total commercial property sector’s waste and 44% of the construction sector’s waste.
Fit-out is the most significant opportunity to embed circular principles within the office sector and can help to meet urgent goals around climate change, waste generation, material extraction, pollution and species decline.
The vibrant city of Dublin will provide the perfect setting for the BCO’s membership to debate all of this and much more.