Never has there been such an appropriate way to report on an event than through the channels of social media. I am blogging from Geneva on the eve of this year’s British Council for Offices (BCO) conference which will be all about exploring how commercial building design and development is set to change as a result of technological advances and modern communication methods.
And the timing couldn’t be better. When this year’s conference chairman Gary Wingrove told me nine months ago that the focus of BCO 2011 would be on how offices need to adapt to accommodate the ‘Facebook generation’, he was adamant that by the time the event swung around, social media wouldn’t be a tool used only by media folk, trendy firms like Microsoft and Google and sub 25-year-olds worldwide.
He said that even if the law firms and accountancy companies brought up the rear “kicking and screaming” everyone would eventually have to embrace social media as a business tool and, as a result, office space would have to change too.
How right he was. Professional activity on Twitter in particular has rocketed in recent months with most major companies creating an account and, employees are getting so used to instant messaging and communication on the go that the office is becoming less important as it has been in the past in its current form. This issue was actually touched upon at last year’s conference and sparked massive debate over whether this could mean the death of the office.
The message this year is that it doesn’t have to – nor should as long as the construction and property industries accept that times are changing. In short, ignore the Twittersphere and its social media buddies at your peril.
Wingrove has said in the past that what all of this technological change will mean is that people work more from outside the office and so commercial spaces need to become more tailored to providing flexible space. Meeting points and break out areas rather than traditional, formulaic rows of desks.
Exactly how the offices of the future will look remains sketchy for now but at BCO 2011 panel discussions on topics such as The 2030 Office, The Challenges for the Office Sector over the Next Decade and Beyond and Concrete, Glass and Steel. But for How much Longer?
I promise to address some of these key issues and examine the potential pitfalls and challenges the industry is likely to face along the way. Plus I will be joining delegates on Friday to check out how office buildings here in Geneva are starting to successfully adapt to a new generation of increasingly technologically minded users.
In the meantime, keep an eye out on the Building website and my Twitter feed @Emily39 for regular updates over the next two days as the Time to Rethink the Future BCO conference 2011 kicks off this evening.