BCO publishes updated guidance on offices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Daniel Brady | 28 November 2022

BCO publishes updated guidance on offices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The British Council for Offices (BCO) has published a report with new recommendations for allocating more office space-per-person for the new era of flexible working and to meet net zero carbon targets.

The Guide to Specification was last published pre pandemic back in 2019 and has historically been updated every 4 /5 years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people work and how they view the office. Occupancy levels, attendance patterns and the way in which office space is used have also all been affected. The result of this is that building design thinking has had to change with the current times.

The 2019 Guide to Specification identified five important drivers for change that have remained the same and they were:

• focus of peoples experience and well-being,

• drive for creativity and productivity,

• technology,

• adaptability for the long term and economic value, and

• return on investment.

However, what was not anticipated was the rapid rate of change bought on from the pandemic and the accelerated net zero carbon targets across the business world.

Occupancy levels of office space has been one of the most long lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with more and more people adopting a hybrid style working pattern, swapping between home working and the office.

The paper also outlines new recommendations for office design. Some considerations included:

• Changes to the general workplace density from 8-10m2 to now just 10m2

• Wider range of structural grid sizes

• Changes to lift and toilet provisions from 12.5m2 to 16.7m2

• Reduced cooling and lighting cooling loads

In essence, with less people in the office, BCO recommendations for lift provisions, W/C’s and heating, ventilation and cooling systems have been reduced. This is good news for landlords and occupiers alike, as refurbishing in accordance with the updated guidance will result in lower costs for their CAT A & CAT B fit-outs respectively.

The intention of these updates are to reflect how design thinking over the last year years has changed due to the global pandemic.

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. My sincere thanks to all BCO members and experts who contributed to this position paper which puts the BCO at the centre of the debate to inform the design of the next generation of office buildings in the post pandemic, net zero carbon world.”

If you require any further information on the BCO recommendations, please contact a member of the OBI Building Consultancy Team.

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