Change to specification guide comes ahead of schedule

Offices should allow more space for workers in response to lower occupancy rates, the British Council for Offices (BCO) has recommended.

The BCO has published a position paper setting out a proposed base level occupancy criterion of 10 sq m per work setting and a space utilisation for typical office use.

That’s up from the recommended 8 sq m recommended in its 2019 Guide to Specification.


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Developers need to do more to tempt workers back into the office, the BCO has said

The guide is normally published every four or five years and provides advice on best practice for the industry but the BCO has updated its recommendations ahead of schedule to reflect the transformation caused by the pandemic.

According to researchers at Kings College London, 75% of workers in the capital worked from home at least one day a week, compared with 37% prior to the pandemic.

The BCO’s current view is that occupancy peaks will be no greater than pre-pandemic levels when the return to work has stabilised and that offices should avoid over-specification and waste.

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Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the BCO, said: “Recent disruptions have changed the way we use our office spaces, while our continued focus on tackling the climate crisis, changes in regulations and improvements in technology have all accelerated the desire for renewed design guidance to meet the evolving needs of occupiers.”

William Poole-Wilson, managing director at Will + Partners, which contributed insights to the report’s authors, said the recommendations would all firms to “provide better design spaces for accelerated agile working depending on what a tenant wants”.

The update comes ahead of the BCO’s annual conference, which takes place in Manchester this week.

Landsec’s Neil Pennell, who chairs the BCO’s technical affairs committee, said customers had told the developer that they were using office spaces differently.

“We now have a great opportunity for the industry to work together more closely to shape the future of sustainable workspace,” he said. “We are already working on the revision of the BCO Guide to Fit Out.”