The office sector needs to come together

The pandemic has turbo-charged changes that were already occurring in the office sector, meaning it is more important than ever that the industry gathers together to exchange ideas, writes Thomas Bone, British Council for Offices Northern Committee member and judging chair at the recent BCO North awards.

The annual BCO Conference will do just that, bringing thousands of industry professionals to Manchester in June for three days of seminars, roundtable discussions and networking opportunities.

After a two-year absence the British Council for Offices Conference will this year be held in Manchester from 14 – 16 June, bringing together a diverse range of delegates to define the future of offices and informing occupiers, investors, developers, designers, constructors and suppliers. The conference follows hot on the heels of the recent BCO Northern awards which celebrated the best-in-class offices across the region.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Our Time is Now”. The outstanding quality of the recent Northern winners was a really powerful demonstration that, despite the turbulence caused by the global pandemic, this statement rings true across our industry and the office has never been so important.

We are seeing rapid evolution and an increased focus on wellbeing, collaboration and innovation, which are delivering new hybrid ways of working.

The importance of sustainability is clear in the number of superb refurbishments, recycled and fit-out projects which are being brought forward and we are looking forward to showcasing many of Manchester’s exemplar buildings, including BCO North winners Bloc on Mosley Street, and Two New Bailey in Salford, during the programme of conference tours.

Giving delegates the opportunity to see for themselves at first-hand the very latest in office design and occupation is one of the best ways to really demonstrate how tightly the sector is focusing on regeneration, sustainability, the public realm and refurbishment.

Delegates will also be able to join the many discussion sessions where we will hear from key stakeholders in both development and occupation of buildings, discussing the challenges we all face in this new era of openness, agility and flexibility, placing this in the context of ever-increasing environmental challenges.

One of the sessions I am most keen to hear is around transforming building occupancy, which is chaired by BCO junior vice president Despina Katsikakis, global head of workplace at Cushman & Wakefield who, during a 35-year career, has pioneered workplace consultancy services for global corporations and real estate developers.

The conference will also hear from futurists to drive the conversation from the present to what is around the corner. Seminars will provide a forum for more intimate engagement in the fields of technology the metaverse, ESG, Net Zero Carbon, future occupiers and science. The expanded programme at this year’s conference will also include a series of NextGen-focused events to deliver a truly diverse and inclusive three-day conference.

For more information about NextGen or BCO membership visit

  • Thomas Bone is project director at Hoare Lea and a member of the BCO Northern Committee

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