28 Apr 2020

Five tips for making the most out of remote working

#BCOvoices is a new series of LinkedIn blogs by the BCO. We’ll look at the impact of COVID-19 on the commercial property industry, along with broader topics. 

It’s been close to a month now since most of us packed up our desks and set up shop at home. Some of us, I’m sure, have found that transition more challenging than others as we adapt our skills and our ways of working to meet the needs of a new reality.

That’s why The NatWest Group’s partnered with the BCO to provide tips on how to best work from home during this challenging period.

There has never been a one size fits all model for how and where we chose to work, nor should there be, but in sharing my five top tips below I hope to help those of you reading this find a little more clarity as we continue to work remotely.

1. Understanding feelings of guilt: it’s important to remember we don’t work relentlessly in the office; we take breaks and we don’t feel guilty when we do so. Yet this changes when we are home. We feel the need to ‘prove’ that we are always working, always ‘on’.

Instead, I challenge you to recognise that that it’s OK to put a wash on, put it out, spot that it’s raining and run quickly into the garden to bring it back in. Life goes on – yes, even when we’re at work – and taking natural breaks can be necessary. It can also improve our concentration when we are back at our desks, ultimately resulting in a more productive working environment.

2. Communicating mindfully: working at home can be a lonely existence, as we lose the “informal chat” of the workplace. Try to talk to colleagues and allow time in meetings for conversation.

What’s more, isolation can “mean you read too much into any hastily written emails”. It’s best to assume “good intent”, rather than fret over a brusque reply.

3. Defining a workplace: when working from home, it’s easy for the boundaries between work and life to blur. Make a conscious effort to keep them separate by defining a set space in your house as your workplace. Keep that place tidy and think about its lighting and space, all of these factors will help you stay focused.

4. Making virtual meetings matter: meeting virtually can be tough, so it’s important that actions are clear, and work is completed.

Before a meeting, agree an agenda and clearly outline what you expect to come out of it – just like you would in the office.

It’s easy for the endless conference calls to feel tiring and passive, too, so if you lead a team make a conscious effort to include all parties when you meet. Can you give everyone a new responsibility? Can you set everyone a challenge? If late in the day, is it worth kicking off the meeting with an ice breaker?

5. Building trust through feedback: providing honest, fair feedback has become more important than ever. Without regular contact, junior members of the team may feel they lack guidance.

Without feedback, our work suffers, and keeping issues bottled up or trying to conceal them – whether they’re perceived or real – can harm trust with all too tangible consequences.



These are unprecedented times. In what feels like the blink of an eye, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work. 

We know that working from home can be challenging, which is why we have partnered with NatWest to share with you some tips on how to be more effective when working from home. 

The tips include thoughts on how we can enhance our home work stations, how we can effectively communicate with colleagues remotely and how we can build trust and resilience in our teams. 

"We are really pleased to be able to share our resources to help members of the BCO and all their colleagues and customers." -Andy McBain, Head of Choice & Office Design, Property Services, NatWest Group, Member of the BCO Scottish Committee.


For more tips on working from home, keep an eye on the new #BCOvoices blog series on LinkedIn. The series brings together different members, all sharing their thoughts on how we can work effectively at this time and in the future.

11 Dec 2019

Light, space and movement key to wellness





We recently worked with Business and Industry on the 2019 Employee Wellbeing campaign. A printed publication was enclosed within every copy of the Guardian newspaper and the content is available online at https://bit.ly/2qnjuG2. The campaign featured exclusive content from BCO President, Paul Patenall and key thought leaders and industry voices about mental health in the workplace, the stigma attached to this and how employers can create the best working atmosphere for their employees.

21 Oct 2019

40% of coworking users would prefer to work from a conventional office, new research finds



London – A joint-research from Gensler and the British Council of Offices (BCO) on the rise of flexible workspace in the UK corporate sector has uncovered that 40% of flexible space users would rather work from a conventional office, prompting questions about the viability of the flexible space solutions as it currently stands.


Key findings include:

· 40% of flexible space users would rather work in a traditional office set-up;

· Satisfaction rates for spatial and service features were 12% lower for London compared to other UK regional cities;

· Only 29% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the flexible workplace had increased their efficiency for tasks where they needed to concentrate, while 38% disagreed;

· 69% agreed or strongly agreed that their workplace helped them to collaborate more;

· 57% of flexible workspace users reported being happier at work.


While the future of co-working is increasingly being explored as part of academic and industry research, there has been limited focus on what it means for large corporate occupiers. The 2019 Rise of Flexible Workspace in the Corporate Sector Report aims to do just that by identifying the drivers of – and the barriers to – the use of flexible space and co-working by large corporate occupiers.

Co-working has evolved from being the realm of freelancers and start-ups to being part of the corporate arena. As uncovered in Gensler Research Institute’s US Workplace Survey 2019, 14% of respondents working for companies of 100 or more employees reported using co‑working space for part of their average working week. The latest and increasingly dominant revolution in co-working shared space has seen employees of large corporates working away from their main office space outnumbering freelancers. In 2018, corporate occupiers made up a quarter of WeWork’s members and revenue globally. However, the recent developments of WeWork will have a knock-on effect on how the co-working model moves forward. Especially so with the likes of Knotel, whose business model is geared entirely towards large corporates.










Despite this rising trend, approximately 40% of flexible space users would prefer to work from a conventional office. Comparison of the preference for traditional versus flexible space across industry sectors shows that 46% of those in consulting services would prefer to return to a traditional set-up, compared to 37% in financial services. Cesar Jeri, Digital Workplace Strategy Lead at Verizon comments, “a one-size-fits-all flexible workspace does not cut it. There are still many firms with a high degree of process with individual focus needs; so flexible and collaborative spaces can be highly distracting for some whilst energising for people in other parts of the business. A workspace needs to be first and foremost inclusive and empower people to make a choice so that it can address the needs of most, if not all, its end users.”


Corporate users: Future of co-working

UK-based large corporates are at different stages in the adoption of flexible workspace. The more mature corporates adopting flexible spaces have combined several approaches that enable them to collect feedback on user experience in order to have a better understanding of the type of spatial settings and flexible working arrangements that drive employee productivity and enrich user experience.

Having initially favoured individual memberships of co‑working spaces or taking space on-demand for a specific project, large corporates in the UK are now increasingly seeing the benefits of either developing their own co-working area within their real estate portfolio or leasing a private area in a shared serviced space. Collaborative or shared spaces were rated as the top three spatial features in the user survey conducted for this study.

The individual membership model is generally implemented as a ‘quick fix’ approach, with a number of large corporates adopting this model as a supplement to, or even as a replacement for, ‘swing spaces’ – with the aim of accommodating peaks and troughs of demand, which they have traditionally held within their own real estate portfolios.

As Jane Clay, Principal and Design Director at Gensler highlights, “Our research suggests that the companies interviewed are all progressively moving away from this individual membership model and capitalising on lessons learned - implementing a flexible workplace strategy in their own space where they can influence its design, tailor the user experience and envision specific business outcomes. This approach also has the added benefit of enabling large corporates to personalise their space and showcase their brand within a less traditional work environment, with a direct positive impact on their recruiting process.”

Research was based on responses from 540 corporate users of flexible space from financial services (38%), real estate (36%) and consulting services (21%), amongst others. Companies interviewed include British Land, GSK, RBS, WeWork, Microsoft, Vodafone, HSBC and Verizon.





The full report, The Rise of Flexible Workspace in the Corporate Sector can be downloaded here

News release by Gensler. For more information, please contact: 

Amelie Barrau, Regional PR Manager, Gensler: amelie_barrau@gensler.com / 079 6797 5844

3 Monkeys Zeno, PR Agency: Gensleruk@3monkeyszeno.com / 020 7009 3100

About Gensler
Gensler is a global architecture, design and planning firm with 48 locations and more than 6,000 professionals networked across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the Americas. Founded in 1965, the firm serves more than 3,500 active clients in virtually every industry. Gensler designers strive to make the places people live, work and play more inspiring, more resilient and more impactful. www.gensler.com


27 Jun 2019

Results for the Annual BCO Conference Photography Competition 2019


Sponsored by:
The results are in for the 2019 Annual BCO Conference photography competition! In 2018, "BCO Photo Berlin" was introduced for the first time, devised by Art Acumen for all BCO delegates who were invited to take photographs of Berlin over the course of the event capturing 'Diversity', 'Inclusion', 'Connection', and 'Innovation'. This year, the Waterman sponsored competition saw 350 entries submitted via the all-new conference app or e-mailed in. The judging criteria: Originality, basic technique, visual impact and adherence to either one or both of the following subject matters:
  • 'Copenhagen Architecture' and
  • 'Arbejdsglaede'

CONGRATULATIONS to the following winners:


1st PLACE for 'Copenhagen Architecture'
Maersk Tower by Giles Martin, WilkinsonEyre, submitted via the conference app. 
Judges’ comments:

-"Nice composition, it draws you in."

-"Visually delicious."






1st PLACE for 'Arbejdsglaede'
Royal Danish Opera House by Ben Marston, Jestico + Whiles + Associates Ltd, submitted via e-mail.
Judges’ comments:

-"Beautifully composed with great use of scale."

-"Captures the perfect light."

-"The more you look at this image the better it gets."








CONGRATULATIONS to the 5 highly commended:

Highly Commended - Copenhagen Architecture - Chris Levett, DLA Design
-"A strong composition, with a great study of light and shadows."










Highly Commended - Arbejdsglæde - Alex Parsons, Kajima
-"Captures the theme really well. 
-"Interesting division of the composition….it puts the people right in the centre."








Highly Commended - Copenhagen Architecture  
Borja Marcaida, Sheppard Robson
-"A simple and formal composition, with a wonderful human element."









Highly Commended - Arbejdsglæde - No Name 
-"The photographer has captured the wonderful energy of Copenhagen life."







Highly Commended - Copenhagen Architecture - Mark Simpson, BDP
-"A stark graphic image, full of intrigue."
-"The light and shadows are just beautiful." 
The two category winners (Giles Martin and Ben Marston) have both won a 2-night stay in a superior king room with breakfast at the Tivoli Hotel in Copenhagen, valid until 2022! Highly commended will all be claiming a £100-00 cash prize. Where photos were not annotated with a name, the winners should e-mail mail@bco.org.uk to claim their prize.

THANK YOU TO OUR JUDGES:


Photo competition judges joined by BCO Snr. VP and Conference Chair
 Paul Patenall


-Catherine Thomas,  MD, Art Acumen (Judging Chair)
Catherine is the Managing Director of Art Acumen, specialising in curating and commissioning art collections, devising bespoke creative projects and place-making through public art programmes. For the past 16 years, Catherine has delivered visionary art strategies and inspirational art commissions for many corporate, public and private clients, building a formidable portfolio and excellent reputation. Catherine created and devised the 2018 "BCO Photo Berlin" Photography Competition as part of the Berlin Art Programme. Learn more here.

VIEW WINNERS FROM THE 2018 'BCO PHOTO BERLIN' PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION DEVISED BY CATHERINE HERE.


-Miriam Spatafora, Structural Engineer, Waterman Group
Miriam grew up with a strong love of Literature and Arts, surprising everyone when she chose to pursue a career in engineering. With a strong eye for detail, she has notably worked as an engineer on the Royal Academy of Dance development.  She has a huge appreciation and respect for the visual arts.  Miriam loves photography and enjoys capturing a range of shots with her both analogic and digital camera, exploring the contrast between film and modern techniques.



-Martina Famoso, Engineer, Waterman Group
'Martina is an engineer with a strong passion for Arts and Architecture. This passion comes from being born in Italy surrounded by its immense historical patrimony. When she is not working as an engineer, she loves to draw, paint and of course to walk around London taking pictures of the beautiful contrast between old and modern architecture.'



-Ryan Dempster, Architect, Buckley Gray Yeoman
An architect with an eye for aesthetics, Ryan is a BCO NextGen Rising Star for London and the South East. An avid photographer himself, with an impeccable eye for design, Ryan founded @storeyshots – a growing Instagram based community curated as a show and tell of architecture and inspiring advice from firms in the industry.



-Alex Upton, Architectural Photographer
Alex’s approach to architectural photography is informed and complemented by his background in studying both Fine Art (BA Fine Art First-class Honours, University of the Arts London) and Design. This not only assures his consistent attention to detail and quality but also enhances his understanding of form, space, composition and materials in relation to architecture.



-Simon Kennedy, Architectural Photographer
More than fifteen years of experimentation have informed Simon’s current photographic techniques. Simon’s photographic vision developed in a unique way – years of working as a qualified architect combined with teaching post-graduate architectural studies at The Bartlett School Of Architecture. This experience has given him a unique understanding of architecture, and a highly insightful photographic vision which continues to develop and be informed by his teaching practice at the Bartlett and by collaborations with various architects.



15 May 2019

What to remember if this is your first BCO Conference



The programme:
Review the programme to devise a plan specifically tailored to your preferences. It is first come, first served, so it's always a good idea to book your choices early on. On that note- it is going to be a jam-packed programme, and while there will be break-out moments between sessions, to make the most of networking opportunities, you might want to plan ahead. Delegates can view a complete delegates list beforehand.


Social media:
Connect with new prospects, or touch base with other conference delegates by searching the official conference hashtags (#BCOConference #Copenhagen2019) -a great way to keep track of acquaintances and people you would like to meet at the conference. Join the conversation and catch up with all of the conference highlights. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. View tweets from last year’s conference here.


Official conference app:
For ease of having everything in one place, an all-new conference app will be available to download. Use it to take notes, view the full programme as well as choose and view your very own profile and personal itinerary. View a floorplan of the venue and see where it’s all happening. Here you can also use a map for directions to the various hotels, drinks reception, and party venue. Enter the photography competition by submitting your photos to the gallery within the app.

With the app, you will be able to view the delegates list and chat. If you meet someone you want to connect with later on, being able to send them a message can help you make the most of every networking opportunity. Take advantage of the ‘digital conference bag’ and fill it with PDF downloads and presentations from the conference sessions.

Download/find out more on the BCO website. The app is available on Android and Ios. Search ‘British Council for Offices’ in the App Store / Google Play store.

Only available to registered conference delegates. To login:

Username: Your email address
Password: Your last name (with a capital letter at the beginning)


Photography competition:
Stand a chance to win by entering up to three photos via the conference app. There are two exciting themes you could potentially capture this year! Capture the spirit of Arbejdsglæde OR try your hand at different angles for an artsy shot of Copenhagen’s stunning architecture. It’s open to all levels so don’t hesitate to participate whether you are an amateur or pro.

Remember- the best camera is the one you have with you, so don’t miss out on snapping a few shots on your phone while you are out on tours or exploring Copenhagen. You will still have up to two weeks after the conference to enter. Read T’s & C’s and more on the BCO website.


Portable charger/power bank:
Since you’ll be out enjoying the jam-packed programme, you’ll want to keep your phone powered up so as not to miss any updates or photo opportunities (which you may wish to enter into the photography competition).


Conference theme:
Most importantly, we are there to learn from the Danes. Their love of cycling, clean harbours, sustainability and laid-back yet sophisticated culture have made this one of the world's happiest and most liveable countries. Since it’s all about Work-life balance, enjoy and have fun! “Arbejdsglæde” is a unique Danish concept which involves people finding balance and joy at work. Learn more here.


The full programme is available on the BCO website and bookings are still open with a few limited spaces left. 

24 Apr 2019

Revolutions in the workplace heighten the role of the property manager


The disruptive forces reshaping the way we work call for an equally disruptive response in the way we serve customers in the office industry. The management of offices is undergoing a revolution and those that do not adapt will be left behind.

As an ever greater importance is placed on customer service, the way a building is managed is being recognised as increasingly critical and we need to ensure our property managers are equipped with the correct skillset to implement change and ensure the bar for standards continues rising. 

This was a key finding in a recent Savills, Landsec and JLL-sponsored report conducted by the British Council for Offices (BCO) – The Customer Experience Revolution: closing the skills gap. The paper argued the term ‘property management’ is outdated, harking back to an era focused more on bricks and mortar than people. Whatever you choose to call it, the demand for excellent customer experience in the workplace is here to stay, just as a certain level of service has come to be expected in the hospitality sector, and the management of offices can learn from this. 

As efficiency, flexibility, adaptability, sustainability and wellbeing continue to be of top concern to occupiers, there’s a realisation that now, more than ever before, we need strategic direction from property managers in order to deliver on change. 

At Savills we launched the RISE initiative last year, which defines and delivers a customer-centric programme across prime offices and mixed-use assets throughout the UK.

RISE sets out to transform the delivery of services to the office sector, creating an independently audited framework for improvement, to enable benchmarking of portfolios and to measure and understand value to the customer.

The initiative engages, builds community, and ensures the highest level of customer experience through the continuously evolving management of buildings. RISE embraces and encourages innovation, while maintaining the best environmental, health and wellbeing standards.

RISE is supported by Savills recently launched PLACE team, which focuses on identifying and developing the DNA of a place, and understanding how we can shape this by improving the physical and social elements it interacts with.

Projects undertaken range from hyper local to national; working with local artists to enliven reception lobbies, events to engage visitors and workers, such as interactive see-saws and fashion shows held in common areas; and working with our occupiers across the managed portfolio to showcase products. Sustainability and wellness is fundamental to this and initiatives should be measured by the positive benefit on those they interact with.

Until recently, the role of the property manager has been undervalued. By placing a greater value on property management, it’s possible to get more out of a building to the benefit of both landlord and occupier. 

The BCO report highlights the new challenges the industry faces, but more than that, it recognises the increased value of the management role and nods to an opportunity to promote the role of the property manager in a new light that could attract a far more diverse workforce.


Originally posted on 12 April 2019 by John Redfern, Head Office, London Director of Savills'.

Download The BCO report here. Special thanks to the report sponsors Savills, Landsec and JLL.


29 Mar 2019

BCO Annual Conference Photography Competition judging panel (2019)


2019 BCO Annual Conference Photography Competition





Calling all 2019 BCO Conference attendees: BCO and Waterman Group invite you to enter and stand a chance to win the photography competition for the winning photo from Copenhagen. Entry is open to all levels and all BCO Conference attendees are invited and urged to participate! Learn more.

Meet the esteemed panel behind the competition: 



-Catherine Thomas,  MD, Art Acumen (Judging Chair)
Catherine is the Managing Director of Art Acumen, specialising in curating and commissioning art collections, devising bespoke creative projects and place-making through public art programmes. For the past 16 years, Catherine has delivered visionary art strategies and inspirational art commissions for many corporate, public and private clients, building a formidable portfolio and excellent reputation.


-Miriam Spatafora, Structural Engineer, Waterman Group
Miriam grew up with a strong love of Literature and Arts, surprising everyone when she chose to pursue a career in engineering. With a strong eye for detail, she has notably worked as an engineer on the Royal Academy of Dance development.  She has a huge appreciation and respect for the visual arts.  Miriam loves photography and enjoys capturing a range of shots with her both analogic and digital camera, exploring the contrast between film and modern techniques.



Martina Famoso, Engineer, Waterman Group
'Martina is an engineer with a strong passion for Arts and Architecture. This passion comes from being born in Italy surrounded by its immense historical patrimony. When she is not working as an engineer, she loves to draw, paint and of course to walk around London taking pictures of the beautiful contrast between old and modern architecture.'



-Ryan Dempster, Architect, Buckley Gray Yeoman
An architect with an eye for aesthetics, Ryan is a BCO NextGen Rising Star for London and the South East. An avid photographer himself, with an impeccable eye for design, Ryan founded @storeyshots – a growing Instagram based community curated as a show and tell of architecture and inspiring advice from firms in the industry.



-Alex Upton, Architectural Photographer
Alex’s approach to architectural photography is informed and complemented by his background in studying both Fine Art (BA Fine Art First-class Honours, University of the Arts London) and Design. This not only assures his consistent attention to detail and quality but also enhances his understanding of form, space, composition and materials in relation to architecture.



-Simon Kennedy, Architectural Photographer
More than fifteen years of experimentation have informed Simon’s current photographic techniques. Simon’s photographic vision developed in a unique way – years of working as a qualified architect combined with teaching post-graduate architectural studies at The Bartlett School Of Architecture. This experience has given him a unique understanding of architecture, and a highly insightful photographic vision which continues to develop and be informed by his teaching practice at the Bartlett and by collaborations with various architects.