TFT at BCO Conference 2019
The British Council for Offices (BCO) kicks off its annual conference next week (June 5-7) in Copenhagen. We at TFT are proud to support the event and to join its focus on the theme of arbejdsglæde, the Danish word and principle of ‘joy at work’.
Employers are increasingly diversifying their workplaces to represent their culture and to help occupants feel more ‘at home’ while at work. But the built environment can do more to improve the joy and wellbeing of occupants of offices and other kinds of spaces, by improving how we create, manage and inhabit buildings.
Three TFT partners attending the BCO Conference share some of the issues they’ll be interested to discuss in Copenhagen, when it comes to creating and maintaining the office of the future:
Alistair Allison: customer experience becomes building performance
As a recent judging chair for the BCO’s Southern Awards, it’s fantastic to see a more confident marketplace emerging which puts all the familiar buzzwords we’re used to hearing about, at the heart of a client brief. The outcome is attributes like sustainability, wellbeing, flexible working and so on aren’t just for marketing messages, but built in to the office from the outset.
I expect to see this become more mainstream as customer experience becomes widely adopted as a defining criteria for building performance. What could that look like? To start with, a more consultative process where building owner and occupants define these performance metrics together, to make sure the ‘lived-in’ space is well tailored to those who use it.
In our ongoing work for 400 & 450 Longwater Avenue, this speculative development is deliberately designed for flexibility to serve a diverse set of occupier needs, including close working with the building management team to ensure that the building would perform as required for different kinds of occupiers through its life.
Mat Lown: linking better buildings with social value
What would a ‘better workplace’ contribute to the city’s wider agenda? BCO’s 2019 venue in Copenhagen recognises the relationship between buildings, the urban ecosystem and our cultural/social needs – in that spirit, I want to explore the social value buildings can bring not only to their occupants but their neighbours too.
Where to start? Taking a Danish cue, offices can do more to support sustainable transport infrastructure with the appropriate facilities in-house for changing, storage, equipment maintenance and so on, all of which make it easier for travellers to choose to cycle, for instance, rather than get the train or drive.
Otherwise, stimulating greater biodiversity inside and out, understanding that we feel more relaxed and happier with natural greenery around us. Offices in particular could also contribute directly to the city’s clean energy credentials fairly simply, with photo-voltaic panels on a roof supplementing the building’s energy use or even feeding power to the grid.
There are many more opportunities besides – realising them is less a question of building type or function than the priorities of its owner for long-term wellbeing of occupier and local community alike.
Dan Henn: realising sustainable value in legacy buildings
It’s tempting to think that the greatest opportunities for better buildings lie in new development, where we can start from scratch and implement best practice from the outset. But repurposing and refurbishing existing buildings is for many cities a more sustainable means of meeting the needs of modern businesses and the talent they rely on.
There are efficiencies and savings to be found and more scope for alteration than many might believe. Our work on the likes of Wellington House and Pinnacle House in London highlight the scope to grow an existing space and upgrade a building for a better occupier experience. The considerations to do so run the gamut from engineering challenges, conservation and keeping the surrounding area (including businesses and residential communities) running as normal.
Finding the right project management skillset is crucial to navigate these challenges, where collaborative and attentive specialists can make sure the office spaces of the future find a productive home in legacy buildings.