30 Aug 2017

Bristol businesses, cyclists need you!

Mark Alker Stone, chairman of the BCO South West of England, Thames Valley and South Wales, calls on Bristol office owners to do more to encourage cycling. The recent BCO report 'The Market Cycles' revealed 38 per cent of office workers would consider commuting by bike if their workplace offered better facilities. This report considers the impact of growth in cycling on office specification as well as occupier and investor demand.

Back in 2015, Bristol’s then-mayor unveiled plans to double the number of bike users in the city over 10 years.

The BCO report highlights the need for better cycling facilities at the city’s workplaces and office buildings if such ambitious targets are to be met.

Currently one in ten adults in Bristol cycle at least three times a week and 47 per cent of these are commuting journeys. Bristol Cycling Campaign wants 20 per cent of all Bristol commuting journeys to be by bike by 2020. Bristol’s businesses need to start helping more.

Improved parking facilities could help, with 16 per cent of workers surveyed saying better bike storage would encourage them to cycle. Currently 45 per cent of offices do not have showers, something which almost a quarter of those surveyed said would encourage them to consider commuting by bike.

Overall, 38 per cent of office workers surveyed said that they would consider commuting by bike if their workplace had better or more facilities.

Why better by bike?

The benefits of cycling are well documented from reducing car and traffic pollution to improving health.

Nationally for every £1 invested in cycling, £4 is put back into the local economy. Bristol’s Cycling City programme from 2008 to 2011 showed that for every £1 spent, the city gained as much as £20 of economic benefit.

For Bristol employers, a healthy cycling workforce reduces sick days, increases mental wellbeing and productivity, not to mention helps combat traffic congestion for local deliveries.

Building on success

The good news is the number of people cycling to work is growing. From 2001 to 2011 people commuting by bike rose from 8,108 to 16, 211 (ONS), a growth rate of 100 per cent.

Bristol as European Green Capital in 2015 invested heavily in boosting its cycling infrastructure to 200 miles of cycleways and freeways connecting every area of the city. At least £16 per head of the city’s population is being spent on cycling every year until 2020 through funding secured.

Business zones in the city are integrating cycling infrastructure from the ground up such as Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone near Bristol Temple Meads train station, which has a target of 17,000 new jobs by 2030. A new cycling hub with increased secure storage is planned for the station to meet this demand.

The research shows that, compared to five years ago, cycling provision is increasingly accepted as an integral component of Grade A office specification.

As cycling continues to grow in popularity, workplaces now need to provide facilities which can cope with rising demand, and technology such as mobile apps can play a significant role in addressing this.

Bristol businesses must ensure their service provision for cyclists meets the evolving expectations of today’s worker. 

Access the BCO research page to download the report 'The Market Cycles' 

25 Aug 2017

Office moves, big change and corporate culture

Commissioned by the BCO and prepared by KKS Strategy, the report called'Corporate Culture: How Office Moves and Office Consolidations can Create Cultural Change' looks at the impact of workspace design and company leadership. Businesses are thinking more carefully about how to manage internal change in the face of profound external change, to protect their most important asset – their people.

In part due to the geopolitical climate, we’re likely to see some profound changes to how companies worldwide operate over the next few years. A number of banks and financial institutions are set to move staff from London to bolster their European operations post Brexit. Technology is also increasingly changing the shape of work, with artificial intelligence holding the potential to alter the shape of our jobs, automating simpler tasks to give people space to think more creatively.

As businesses evolve and change with the times, so too does the workplace. This may involve moving to a new office, altering the layout of an existing one to accommodate growth or a merger, or changing how and where a business operates to meet differing industry standards. We’re also becoming increasingly aware of the role a workplace can play in the well-being and productivity of employees. As such, businesses will need to think carefully about how to manage internal change in the face of profound external change, to protect their most important asset – their people.

Human Resources can, and should, play an important role in this. There is a commonly held misconception that HR is a back-office function. Often, however, HR is a bridge between the commerciality of an organisation and its workforce, and is therefore well placed to help organisations manage workplace change. A recent report from The British Council for Offices (BCO), Corporate Culture – How office moves and consolidations can create cultural change, suggests some key ways HR can be used to do this:

Be involved

Often, HR personnel find themselves brought in to a programme of change at a late stage, with no chance to make a positive input to the process. They’re forced to implement a programme that they may have fundamental reservations about.

Bringing HR in early means that they can use their insights into the organisation to make valuable input, and that they are more likely to feel comfortable with the changes they will be helping to enact.

Be consistent

HR is in a unique position to support the cultural change throughout all stages of the employee life cycle, through recruitment, orientation, appraisals, reward and recognition practices. It has the means to ensure that the desired office culture is reinforced.

For example, if the goal is to engender a collegiate and team-oriented culture, the reward and recognition structures should not be solely focused on the individual. Often, cultural change initiatives fail because there are fundamental contradictions in the behaviour that is sought
and the behaviour that is rewarded.

Be open

Communication with staff is vital to ensure that they have the information they need to feel secure in their position in the wake of upcoming organisational change, with a view to preventing high levels of attrition. The HR department, which often discusses pastoral issues with staff, is a natural choice to facilitate communicating this information.

The thoughts and input of workers throughout the change process should also be gathered, so that the workforce feels engaged and listened to. Focus groups are a tried-and-tested method to achieve this, but HR professionals also have the opportunity to provide an informal ear to concerned workers outside of formal feedback sessions. Throughout, it is important that HR personnel are managing expectations as to the impact this feedback will have, to ensure that trust isn’t lost if staff suggestions aren’t carried out.

Be aware

The HR department can also be used to monitor the success of organisational change. It has access to data such as absences due to sickness, which can be used to understand levels of staff happiness or stress.

As well as this, HR often acts as the cultural thermometer of a company, given its frequent contact with employees daily. Even without needing to look at data, HR should be able to provide useful insights into the success of an organisational change.

Indeed, the best measurement of successful organisational change is a positive and strong corporate culture. It’s difficult to define, but enhances an organisation’s performance and pervades all aspects of the business. A weakened or toxic corporate culture, impacted by poor change management, may result in a failure to meet commercial goals.

For this reason, companies across the globe need to think seriously about how best to make use of HR next time they undergo any kind of workplace change, be it in response to growth or downsizing, a merger or a relocation. By doing this, businesses can create a working environment that not only can survive unanticipated events and crises, but make the most out of today’s frequent and disruptive accelerating challenges.

-Katrina Kostic Samen, Managing Partner at KKS Strategy, and the Senior Vice President of the BCO.

Access the BCO research page to download the report to find out more on corporate culture.