BCO previews new edition of its Guide to Specification

Property industry’s ‘standards bible’ from the British Council for Offices (BCO) – last updated in 2009 – contains guidance on provisions for cyclists for first time 

The British Council for Offices has published the new edition of its Guide to Specification, the organisation’s landmark publication providing guidance on industry standards for workplaces across the UK.

The current Guide to Specification was last updated in 2009; the new 2014 edition includes guidance on facilities for cyclists in workplaces for the first time. It recommends one shower per ten cycle spaces and one cycle space per 100m2, reflecting the evolving face of travel to and from the office environment.

The recommended workplace density has been reviewed to take into account the ever more diverse way businesses are now using their workspaces. The report states that: “Considering workplace density alone may overstate the demands placed on building infrastructure, or result in over provision if used as the basis for design.”

As a result the 2014 guide recommends that effective density, expressed as NIA (net internal area) per person, provides a better insight into the demands on buildings and offers guidance into how to reduce costs by increasing occupancy efficiency.

The main ways of achieving this are through having more open plan workspaces, smaller workstations and fewer enclosed offices.

The 2009 Guide reflected the increasing intensity of office space use by identifying that most offices were occupied to a density of between 8 and 13m² per person, a significant increase from the 2005 Guide level of 12-17m² per person. The research conducted for the 2014 Guide found that most office space use still falls between 8-13m² per person but recognises the shift to the higher density end of this scale. It also illustrates the impact of designing buildings at 1 person per 8m² as well as the more commonly adopted average density of 10m² per person.

The latest edition of the Guide to Specification will be discussed later today (Thursday 15 May) during a seminar at the BCO’s annual conference being held at the ICC in Birmingham. The report’s authors will be discussing the content of the latest edition of the guide, and explaining the research that was undertaken to inform it.

The authors are largely the same professional team that produced the 2009 edition, and speakers at the seminar include Hanif Kara (AKT II), Neil Pennell (Land Securities), Geoff Harris (Henderson Global Investors), Peter Williams (AECOM) and Karl Escritt (Like Digital Media).

Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the BCO, says: “Businesses must realise that one size will never fit all with offices reflecting the increasingly diverse needs of employees. The preview of the BCO’s Guide to Specification reinforces this view and includes useful advice for occupiers on how to make the most of their office, a significant cost for a business, that if understood properly can work hard for them as an asset.”

The full edition of the BCO’s 2014 Guide to Specification, which will be available as a digital document online for the first time and accessible on a range of devices, is due to be published later in the year.