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BCO Conference, Manchester - 2022

With this year’s conference taking place in the vibrant city of Manchester, which has transformed itself into a real cosmopolitan powerhouse, it was important to acknowledge the significance of our host city during the conference’s opening session.

Joanne Roney, chief executive of Manchester City Council delivered an inspiring keynote speech, expanding on the opportunities that exist in Manchester – be that through science, culture, education, or industry – all affecting the world of offices and relevant infrastructure. According to Roney, Manchester has been identified by government as one of three UK innovation acceleration hubs. Delegates heard how 100,000 people are expected to reside in the city’s centre by 2026, with engineering, science and digital jobs expected to be a major driver of that growth. This growth and development will naturally impact the city’s requirements for office space.

But Roney also acknowledged the challenges that exist for the industry, specifically creating workspaces that respond to the growing needs of occupiers, where the quality of our commutes and surrounding infrastructure become just as important as the quality of our office space, and where high standards of technology and connectivity have become truly essential.

In Roney’s words: “To create offices that work for collaboration in a thriving city, we have to have to right infrastructure in place – be that through connectivity, digital infrastructure or transport.”

Future-gazing solutions
“There’s never been a more exciting time to be part of the office sector because of the breadth of what we have to deliver in the near future,” said Chris Oglesby, Chief Executive of Bruntwood as he addressed hundreds of delegates from the main stage during a session about transforming office occupancy.

Regardless of their profession, background or expertise, delegates agreed that, following the pandemic, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to readdress the role of the office in our lives. But one focus area remains top of the agenda; how can our buildings encourage innovative and fresh thinking, while introducing greener and more sustainable solutions?
While the pandemic dramatically changed the way we use our offices, and indeed the requirements occupiers now have for their workspaces, the issues of climate change and sustainability remain a key focus for the industry, leading to increased scrutiny of the office’s environmental impact.

Investing in young talent
As we drive innovation and change throughout the office sector, the younger generation of talent will be key to bringing fresh ideas to life for the workplace of the future.

The BCO is committed to investing in young talent through its NextGen programme and was thrilled to welcome over NextGen members – all under the age of 35 – to this year’s event.

Alongside a dedicated programme of sessions and activities targeted specifically at younger members, this year’s conference offered well-awaited opportunities for face-to-face exchanges and knowledge sharing which left delegates inspired and motivated to drive more change within the sector, across sustainability, technology and wellbeing to name a few.

A focus on mental health and wellbeing
With the challenges brought on by the pandemic, including prolonged periods of lockdown and isolation, mental health and wellbeing remain front of mind in the world of work, and the wider office sector.

As part of this, workplace wellness has become a key focus area as we consider offices of the future. This naturally became a prominent topic throughout the conference, especially as office designers, builders and occupiers explore how our work environment can encourage healthier lifestyles and act as a magnet for the best and brightest talent.

For more information: https://www.bco.org.uk/Conference