Thrilled that Helen Lowe is joining so many brilliant women on EG’s Future Female Leaders programme with Ginger Public Speaking. Find out more: https://www.egi.co.uk/news/meet-the-future-female-leaders/
Great article on our new structure by Aaron Morby in Construction Enquirer. Read below:
Fit-out specialist BW: Workplace Experts has appointed a third managing director as part of a management rejig to grow the business.
Max Steward has left contractor ISG after more than 10 years at the business. He joins fellow managing directors Kevin Mulligan and Peter Nagle, to take the business to its next stage of growth.
This new management structure provides the platform for the long term strategy to grow the BW business, as well as underpinning the short term plan for 2019 to be a year of consolidation with a focus on increasing the number of genuinely defect free project completions.
Steve Elliott, BW’s chief executive officer, said: “We have been looking for leaders with the ability to help us grow the business, drive the delivery of defect-free projects, and ensure that we retain our reputation for being a personable and innovative company. “
BW has achieved four solid years of growth in turnover and profitability. Latest results for last year show a 20% increase on turnover to £180m with pre-tax profits of £5.3m up 29% on the previous year.
We are pleased to release our 2019 financial results on the Building Magazine website this month. See below or visit their website to read more: https://ubm.io/2Wey7p4
BW expecting turnover to pass £200m this year
The firm behind the fit-out of the King’s Cross headquarters of the Beatles’ record label said it expects workloads to jump above £200m this year.
BW completed the work at Eric Parry’s Four Pancras Square which Universal Music, whose other acts include Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus, moved its 1,000-strong team into in the middle of last year.
Universal picked up the Beatles’ back catalogue with its purchase of EMI in 2012, which included the Beatles’ record label Parlophone.
In its financial results for the year ending 31 December 2018, BW said revenue rose one fifth to £181m from 2017. Pre-tax profit was up a quarter to £5.2m
Anthony Brown, sales and marketing director of BW, said the firm was expecting to see revenue push beyond the £200m figure in 2019.
Brown said the firm was positioning itself as an alternative to the big two fit-out contractors – Morgan Sindall-owned Overbury which had a turnover of £831m last year and ISG whose fit-out business had income of £609m in 2018.
He added: “There is a real appetite for a credible third player in the space.”
Brown, who is also one of BW’s nine owners, said BW’s margin was sitting at just under 3% and that the firm was hoping to see this increase to 5% over the coming years.
He said 40% of the projects the firm completed in 2018, which also included the Finsbury Circus headquarters in the City of London of asset manager GAM, were defect-free at practical completion. The firm is targeting a 50% figure by this year.
In 2017, a total of 5,821 suicides were recorded in the UK. Of these, 75% were male and 25% were female. The construction industry is particularly affected by this illness, more than a quarter of construction employees in the UK have considered taking their own life. Data has also shown that one in every seven workers know a colleague who has taken their own life and many more workers have considered it.
Things are getting better but sadly, there is still some stigma around this health issue and it is therefore not always openly discussed, meaning many suffer in silence and don’t get the help they need. It is for this reason why we have decided to continue supporting Rethink as our corporate charity.
Rethink are a charity that provides support and information to thousands of people affected by mental illness, as well as campaigning to change policy and public attitudes.
Last month was Mental Health Awareness Week. In order to show our support, we hosed a number of stress relieving activities on site and in the office. These activities included massages, exercise classes, chill out rooms, site stand downs, bring your dog to work day, a cake sale and a raffle prize draw.
Huge thank you to our suppliers for taking part and to Eurotec and Eden Caterers for donating cakes and prizes.
We look forward to supporting Rethink in the future.
Our Senior Project Manager, Vas, has installed a number of staircases over the last couple of years and has become a bit of an expert on what to do to make sure the process runs smoothly. Here’s his advice on the important things to think about before starting your fit out.
1, Have early engagement with a structural engineer to discuss the viability of the scheme
2, Agree a Design Responsibility Matrix between the structural engineer, staircase contractor, structural alterations package contractors and architect
3, Speak to the building control and fire officer about the revised fire strategy and treatment of finishes during the design stage
4, Engage with your specialist staircase contractor as early as possible
5, Consider license to alter times and landlord approval timescales for all structural alternations
6, Discuss timescales and logistical considerations around installation of a staircase with your chosen fit out contractor. Make sure you allow enough time for this
7, Allow time for integration of the staircase to the surrounding architectural elements
8, Think about your future maintenance and access strategy during the installation. What’s the plan when the contractor leaves
Two of our workplace experts, Mel and Cheryl recently went on a life-changing experience to Cambodia with our sister company, SHAPE, to support a local education programme organised by the charity, See Beyond Borders’.
We sat down with them both once they were back to find out about their experience, what they learned and what their favourite memories were.
Please give us an overview of the 11 days.
Day one and two were really about settling in as a group and meeting the SHAPE and See Beyond Boarders’ team in Phnom Penh. On day one we kicked off the day with a 20km cycle through the village in 35o heat and a boat trip along the Mekong River. On day two we visited a visited a local prison and the killing fields. Quite an emotional day but it really helped us understand the history of the country. The next day we embarked on a 6-hour drive to Battambang where we checked into our hotel and prepared ourselves for the next 5 days of project work.
The project work was definitely really challenging but incredibly rewarding. We cemented floors of classrooms and reading areas, broke down solid concrete flower beds, bricked up toilets and made tables and chairs. In-between the work we also helped host two sports carnivals were we did sack races and relays with the children and a health day were we taught them how to brush their teeth and wash their hands properly.
On the second-to-last day we drove to Siem Reap for a very different circus show and went on a very challenging bike ride through the jungle to visit the temples. We were also very fortunate to be invited to a See Beyond Boarders’ charity event at Tevys restaurant on the last evening which had been organised to encourage local businesses to donate to the charity.
Funny story, we left our hotel at 4.45am on the second to last day to watch the sun rise. We sat from 5.20am to 6.15am with our phones set to slow mode ready to capture the moment. Once 6.15am came, the guides advised that we weren’t going to see the sun rise, so we all turned around and started setting up our bikes. 5 minutes later, we were about to set off, turned back around and realised we had missed the sun rise. Thankfully, everyone saw the funny side.
Each day ended with a reflection session which the group started off a bit hesitant about but after the first session found them emotionally rewarding.
What weird and wonderful food did you try?
*Snake fish *One of the daring SHAPE guys ate a tarantula burger *Silk worms *Crickets *Chicken feet *Giant mice
What were some of the things you learned on the trip?
*There’re no age restrictions for driving *You can’t be a fussy eater or OCD about cleanliness *Not all toilets are what you would expect *The biggest learning was from the children. They are so happy all the time. We don’t realise how lucky we are and how much we have. It was life-changing.
How was it working with SHAPE?
Amazing. After the first day we felt like we had been working together for years. We built the team relationship really quickly and everyone was really good and helping each other out and doing what needed to be done to get the job done.
What’s your favourite memory?
Probably a moment in one of the sports carnivals. The children were crouching on the floor and I (Cheryl) sat down beside them. The floor was quite dusty so as I got up, I did the normal thing of brushing myself down. This one little boy found it hilarious and laughed solidly for 7 minutes straight. It was infectious. Everyone joined in and it was just the nicest moment. I think we would both say that is our favourite memory from the trip.
The boat trip was amazing as well. Two different memories.
What are your recommendations for others wanted to go in future?
*Having a basic level of fitness before you go would definitely help *Keep an open mind *Be prepared for the heat and 90% humidity *Be ready to give 100% at all times
If you would like to find out more about the programme, speak to Cheryl or Mel about their experience, please get in touch.
To celebrate World Book Day 2019, we asked our workplace experts what their favourite reads were. Here’s what they said.
Steve Elliott: CEO for Dummies Victoria Ward: ‘Harry Potter series’ by J. K. Rowling Nick Bent: ‘A Boy in the Water: A Memoir’ by Tom Gregory Helen Lowe: ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl Anthony Brown: ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener’ by Herman Melville Leanne Baird: ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen Ellen Webb: ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald Paul Whistler: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen Russell Bowden: ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne Vicki Webb: ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee Henry Strickland: ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ by John Irving Lorna Thomas: ‘Dead Simple’ by Peter James Derren Andrewartha: ‘Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank McCourt Dean Millard: ‘The Chancellor Manuscript’ by Robert Ludlum Brian Dolan: ‘A Game of Thrones’ by George R. R. Martin Sara Lopez: ‘The Name of the wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss Oliver Bishop: ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts Penny Creswell: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen Dean Sayers: ‘Penguins Stopped Play’ by Harry Thompson Chris Carter: ‘The profession of violence’ by John Pearson Amy Barnes: ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ by Mark Manson Heather Allan: ‘The Best of Times’ by Penny Vincenzi Will Turner: ‘Think & Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill Theo Riakiotakis: ‘Good to Great’ by Tim Ferris Gary Mason:’The Dice Man’ by Luke Rhineheart Anne Greenway: ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett Kurt Steventon: ‘Harry Potter series’ by J. K. Rowling Cat Agacy: ‘Insomnia’ by Stephen King Adey Moir: ‘The Ghost and Bertie Boggin’ by Catherine Sefton Steve Buchanan: ‘Wild pork and watercress’ by Barry Crump Kevin P’ng: ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl Richard McPherson: ‘The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists’ by Robert Tressell Robert Culley: ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens Andy Drummond: ‘The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz’ by Jeremy Dronfield Joanna Milczarek: ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles Cristian Scolnii: ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari Maria Russo: ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ by Milan Kundera Tomas Hollingsworth: ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight Paddy Westbury: ‘Bad Blood: The Secret Life of the Tour de France’ by Jeremy Whittle Callum Quarton: ‘The Glass Castle’ by Jeannette Walls Ewen Wood: ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts Chris Brain: ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ by Andrew Neiderman Jim Powell: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare Julian Eley: ‘Think & Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill Rosemary Laurence: ‘The Women’s Room’ by Marilyn French Jubaiya Haque: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen Rory Smyth: ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J. D. Salinger Izabela Jeziolkowska: ‘Beneath a Scarlet Sky’ by Mark T. Sullivan Andrew Bradley: ‘The Dice Man’ by George Cockcroft Colin Graham: ‘Extracted’ by RR Haywood Ian Bowyer: ‘Watchers’ by Dean Koontz Darren Sexton: ‘Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison’ by Warren Fellows Paul Mynard: ‘Penguins Stopped Play’ by Harry Thompson Kevin Mulligan: ‘A Voyage of Mad Men’ by Peter Nichols Kim Morgan: ‘The Blind Assassin’ by Margaret Atwood David Mustoe: ‘Warlord Chronical’ by Bernard Cornwall Ekaterina Sidyakova: ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand Mark Davis: ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris Paige Treadwell: ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ by Jessica Knoll Phil Buss: ‘Maura’s Game’ by Martina Cole James Montgomerie: ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho Becky Craddock: ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara Colin Ogden: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ by E. L. James Rob McEwan: The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr Ines Lago: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Gavin Nelson: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell Max Steward: Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking John King: Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success Book by Matthew Syed Gary Spice: Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography by Alex Ferguson
Our workplace experts Cheryl and Melanie had a fantastic week in Cambodia supporting the See Beyond Borders’ Education Program with our sister company SHAPE Australia. Fantastic cause which we look forward to supporting again in the future.
An interview on how they found the experience will be released soon.
Our environmental team are highly qualified in LEED, BREEAM and SKA. Over the last 3 years they have worked on 21 BREEAM projects, 16 SKA projects and 1 WELL project. Currently, they are working on another 6 BREEAM, 1 LEED and 1 WELL projects.
Reducing the amount of waste we produce on our sites is a number one priority for the team. They will be announcing their full strategy to combat this later this year.
If you need any advice about achieving these accreditations on one of your projects, please get in touch.
The Big Question – What did you learn from 2018(no mention of Brexit please)?
ANTHONY BROWN, SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR OF BW: WORKPLACE EXPERTS
Was almost every day a revelation in 2018? It felt like that. Six weeks of sweltering, record-breaking weather and I learned that this mild, grey country could get too hot. Then came the World Cup madness and I learned that this country’s mild, grey people could lose themselves in a dream of hope over experience. And thanks to my teenage daughter, I finally figured out what Fortnite is!
We are delighted to welcome our latest workplace expert, Kevin, to BW. He brings a wealth of experience to the role and has 25+ years of initiating and delivering outstanding results for Fortune 500 firms across a wide range of sectors including Investment Banking, Technology, Data Centres, Petrochemical, Media, Legal, Insurance, Entertainment, Social Media and Government.
We sat down with Kevin to find out what he is built with. Here are his top three things:
1. The wind at his back and warm sunshine on his face sailing the Atlantic
2. Energy at his local squash club in Limpsfield Surrey
3. Suspension, whilst mountain biking in the North and South Downs
Get in touch if you would like to catch up with Kevin over a cup of coffee, 0207 593 9900.
Naming stuff is a precarious business. And you don’t have to look too hard to find examples of it going horribly wrong. Sometimes it’s personal. David and Angie Bowie’s son, for instance, loathed being dubbed Zowie – preferring to be called Joe, until at the age of 18 he settled on his (actual and quite ordinary) first name Duncan. On other occasions, large swathes of the population can be held responsible. When the British public was given the opportunity to name a new polar research vessel by the Natural Environment Research Council what did they come up with? RRS Boaty McBoatface, naturally enough.
It recently became a hot topic in our office when we decided to hunt for names for our meeting rooms. But, after doing only a moderate amount of research, we quickly discovered you have to be really careful. After all one of the running jokes through the brilliant BBC satire, W1A, is the meeting rooms named after famous comics – ‘I’ll see you inside Frankie Howard’. Subsequently in real life, the Daily Mail had plenty of fun when it discovered that, despite spending millions of pounds of licence fee money creating a new office – complete, it sniggered, with ‘huddle zones’ and a ‘meeting tower’ – the corporation was still spending nearly £50,000 on external meeting spaces, at places like the Langham Hotel and De Vere’s West One.
No doubt when it was a small start-up intent on disruption, it made perfect sense for Uber to describe its meeting space as the ‘War Room’. However, once it became a fixture in the mainstream – and was having to deal with internal complaints about its company culture by commissioning a report from the former US attorney general Eric Holder – changing its moniker to the ‘Peace Room’ seemed, at best, a superficial gesture.
According to an excellent piece on the Quartz website by Leah Fessler, other companies have used the names of their meeting rooms to reinforce their brand values: Airbnb themes rooms around parts of the world to illustrate how far the platform’s tentacles have stretched; meanwhile Elon Musk’s SpaceX has gone for people who have made space exploration possible from scientists to astronauts such as John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Both make perfect sense.
However, as with most things in our contemporary culture if you’re stuck for an idea on what to call your rooms (and you think good old-fashioned numbers are tedious) then the internet is here to help. The Kit Out My Office site, for instance, has a Meeting Room Name Generator. Split into two sections, users can either select a theme and punch in the number of names required – on my visit I went for ‘Classic TV’ and it came back with Gotham, Friends and Game of Thrones – or they can simply go for a lucky dip (whereupon I was given a clutch of Madonna songs). Another site, My Tech Decisions, has come up with a slew of handy hints to help creatively challenged companies. Why not, it suggests, transform your training room into a ‘learning loft’ (presumably only if it’s located on the top floor of your building) or turn the collaborative space into an ‘inspiration station’? Perhaps W1A was more realistic than we dared believe.
So, I hear you ask, what have we decided to call our meeting rooms at BW? Well the truth of the matter is that right now, we haven’t. Rather than do anything rash – or take the Zowie Bowie option as it’s otherwise known – we’re biding our time. The idea is that as the rooms are used their rightful names will emerge organically. And if they don’t then I guess we can always go for those Madonna song titles idea…
Another insightful morning at our CX Networking Club last month. This edition of the seminar series focused on the topic of Customer Experience in the Digital Age. The event hosted a line-up of expert speakers and professional attendees who shared industry insights on digital transformation across multiple sectors.
The morning also involved group and networking discussions to involve opinions of all attendees. These discussions deliberated the ways in which digital transformation can be advantageous for customers across a wide range of sectors, how good customer service and accessibility of a company to customers is paramount and complete company-centrism is no longer present.
A takeaway from the various discussions was that brands who excel in digital customer experience gain popularity, begging the question: why isn’t every company seeking to improve its customer experience? With new data laws and varying technological abilities, making a significant change can be painful for some businesses. However, the mindset needs to be flipped, with the customer at the forefront and a focus on CRM.
With great minds filling the room, the event contained no quiet moments, each second was filled with interesting discussion and informative speakers. BW will continue learning and advancing alongside the digital age that we work in and live in and look forward to the next event in the series.
We sat down with one of our new workplace experts, Steve Pearce, who gave us the scoop on what he is built with plus an overview of his experience in construction, some of the challenges he has faced and how BW compares to where he has worked before.
Please give us a quick overview about your background?
I left school when I was 16 and wanted to join the Royal Navy but my mum wouldn’t let me. So, I decided to join the construction industry which I have now worked in for 42 years. I started off as an apprentice carpenter and worked my way up to my current role, Project Director.
What types of projects have you worked on previously?
Whilst being experienced at working directly with the client at the highest level, I am particularly skilled in management of pre-construction and construction delivery and look forward to bringing added value to all my projects and in particular the service which I provide.
I have successfully delivered on time and within budget for various prestigious high-end projects for many of today’s leading blue-chip and service orientated clients.
Bank of England J.P Morgan Chase Barclays HSBC Bayerische Landesbank State Street Goldman Sachs Sumotimo AMEX
McGuire Woods Hill International
Manhattan Loft Gardens Publicis Tokyo Marine Deloittes London Fire brigade Surrey County Council TUI Kajima Warner Estates
What were the main challenges you found when working on these projects and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenges on these and most projects to date are around communication and transparency. You need to be able to communicate freely whether face-to-face or on the phone; emails can be misread. Being open and honest in dealing with issues, facing problems head on and being able to adapt and overcome them are good management skills
How does BW differ to your past companies?
BW has a nice feel. It is friendly and compact. I knew BW was the right move on my first Tuesday here. Everyone I spoke to was really engaged and happy.
What are you built with?
I have just celebrated my 32nd wedding anniversary, in that we have been blessed with 4 great kids:
Daniel – 30 Tom – 27 Ben – 24 Georgina -20
I used to weigh in at 20 stone. Fitness and health changed my life. I have done the vertical rush competition for charity, have completed many bike rides including London to Brighton and London to Cambridge, and half marathons at Silverstone, Windsor great park. I have even done a triathlon, came last but enjoyed it a lot.
That being said I still go running most weekends and regularly take part in 10Ks, the last being in June for Macmillan cancer in Regents Park. Keeping fit for me is a good stress reliever which allows you to be prepared for the coming week. My other passions are football, in particular, Tottenham Hotspur and music with Jazz and Soul being top of my list.
Minisming disruption to occupants when working in occupied building is a number one priority for BW. We talked to one of our more experienced PMs, Paul Etherington, who shared his experience and some useful lessons when working in occupied buildings.
What are the challenges when accurate and up-to-date building records don’t exist?
If current and up-to-date records don’t exist, there will be increased risks associated with a fit-out project. When this happens on our projects, we work with clients to organise out of hours validations and surveys. These identify whether there are any major issues, for example asbestos in the building, as well as what the building’s power distribution and power loadings are. We can then provide a set of drawings to improve the accuracy of the project thus reducing risks in terms of time and budget.
How can capacity for modern power loading effect projects?
If a building doesn’t have sufficient power to support the client’s requirements, then the feasibility of the project will be affected, and costs will almost certainly increase. I always work closely with my clients and their building management to establish these essential facts at the start of the project. Again, this reduces the risk of increased costs during the project and ensures a high quality of the fit-out is maintained.
What can we do to ensure the programme doesn’t disturb a client’s day-to-day operations?
We always try to be sensitive to the needs of our clients’ and their neighbours and minimise disruption wherever possible. We always forewarn occupants of any significant disturbances and always endeavour to schedule noisy works at the least intrusive time.
We can work with clients to identify and create a ‘noise matrix’ at the start of each project. Within this the different noise level are identified and graded according to the disruption anticipated this enables us to mutually decide what can be tolerated and when.
Noise periods are monitored, measured and adapted during the programme if necessary.
How do access restrictions impact the delivery of an in-occupation project?
Whether there are physical access issues or time constraints, we work with clients to manage all potential barriers to makes sure that projects are still delivered on time and to budget.
We work with clients to understand their needs; the key is to ensure that dialogue is underpinned with guidelines. At the start of the programme we agreed delivery arrangements and developed a process where deliveries are given a specific time or route which suits the client.
We regularly meet with clients during the project to ensure their day-to-day operations are not impacted by deliveries and waste away. We aren’t afraid to adapt the plan at any stage of the project to work around key meetings and ensure a successful project journey for our clients.
Can you give some advice for setting up temporary circulation routes?
We don’t want any nasty surprises on our projects and our strategic approach means that we are able to advise anyone affected of potential disruptions at the beginning of our projects. If a temporary entrance is required, we try to emulate the existing solution and navigation route as closely as possible.
Communication is key, we explain to everyone who could be affected exactly what is going on, with plenty of time to adjust and make alternative plan if required.
How we plan for these routes is one of the first conversations that takes place. It could also change once the project has begun. We provide many solutions for temporary circulation routes whether it be barriers or temporary demountable walls. We work with clients to use these walls as a communication tool to keep employees up-to-date on the progression of the project.
How do you make sure reductions in facilities and amenities are kept to a minimum?
Sometimes some short-term pain for long-term gain in unavoidable, however, we always try to keep this to a minimum.
We have early meetings and agree a plan with the client, especially if temporary solutions need to be implemented.
We can work with you to help provide solutions and programme events to minimise the overall period facilities are affected and out of action.
What can you do to ensure project in occupied buildings are kept safe?
If you are opening up a building you are potentially increasing the security risk, so we continually assess the changing building structure. We are incredibly vigilant, we introduce strict sign-in processes and re-brief security teams.
We also work with our clients and their building management teams to agree a set of security guidelines ourselves which our subcontractors follow. We ask all of our workforce to be identified through passes and different coloured branded hi-vis’.
How can we make sure our sites are discreet in occupied building?
Sites that look good encourage everyone working on them to keep them in a pristine state and deliver exceptional work. This is why we always install a professional site set up in line with our clients’ brand.
We have created a minimum site set up manual which allows us to ensure we have a professional for all types of projects.
Dust and noise can be an issue on site, what do you do to minimse this?
Building sites are inherently dusty and noisy spaces, we deal with this by sealing off areas wherever possible. There are many build solutions we can employ to contain dust and noise. Whether it is sheeting or temporary stud walls, we always find the best solution for our clients.
We have these conversations up front, so occupants know when this type of work is happening and send reminder newsletters to ensure occupants have notice to work around these works.
Can be building wholly or partially be vacated during work, and is this cost effective?
Allowing works to take place in a phased approach can often means that projects are delivered quicker. However, every project has its own requirements and needs to be assessed. We can conduct a cost-benefit analysis at the start of a project and work with you to discuss the best fit-out solution for you.
We are delighted to announce we are sponsoring English National Ballet ballerina Claire Barrett.
Claire grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and moved to the UK to train with English National Ballet School. Upon graduation in 2017, Claire joined English National Ballet and has since danced with the company in productions including Nutcracker, La Sylphide, Akram Khan’s Giselle, and Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring.
English National Ballet has a long and distinguished history. Founded in 1950 as London Festival Ballet by the great English dancers Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin, it has played a major role in the growth and history of ballet in the UK. English National Ballet has an international reputation for excellence and BW is thrilled that its sponsorship will contribute to investing in the future of ballet worldwide.
We are delighted to welcome Betsy, Rupert and Mergim who are joining BW as our latest Graduate Trainees. Based at three of our current projects, they will be spending the next year being exposed to all aspects of the fit-out industry before they choose the area they wish to specialise in.
We hope that they enjoy their first projects and look forward to seeing their careers develop at BW.
BW: Workplace Experts recently released financial results for the year ended 31 December 2017.
The Company posted annual turnover of £150.9m, an increase of 50% from the previous year, and operating profit for the financial year of £4.1m, up 110% (full profit for the financial year: £7.99m).
“We’re thrilled to report BW’s best year ever, our second year of double-digit turnover growth,” said Steve Elliott, BW’s CEO.
“Our strong business performance drove turnover growth in both refurbishment and fit out projects, net assets of £13.8m, and cash at bank of £10.8m,” said Andrew Bradley, BW’s Financial Director. “We completed a successful management buy-out of the share capital from the shareholding of the two founders. We started our 2018 financial year with our strongest order book and anticipate turnover of between £190m and £200m with continued improvement in gross margin.”
Fit-out specialist dismisses Brexit slowdown as turnover jumps 50%
London-based fit-out firm BW has said Brexit is having no impact on its business at all, as it reported annual turnover has hit £150.9m, a hike of 50%.
BW: Workplace Experts, based in the City of London, has said it is on track to hit its target of £250m turnover by 2020. Its operating profit leaped 110% to £4.1m for the year ending 31 December 2017.
Anthony Brown, the firm’s sales and marketing director, said BW’s growth is due to tech companies wanting top end offices as a recruiting sergeant for skilled workers, as well as a recent uptick in work outside London, in particular in the Cambridge to Oxford corridor and in Southampton.
He said: “The main driver for growth in fit-out is recruitment – we’ve seen huge growth in London from tech companies over the last few years.
“Everyone is fighting hard for a small pool of talent, and a lack of grade A office space – vacancy rates are the lowest they’ve been – means that firms have to invest to make their workplace a differentiator.
“The growth outside London is expected as London expands and commuting is cumbersome – we might see a position where 30-40% of our work is in the Home Counties.”
Brown said he has been surprised that Brexit was having no impact on business.
He said: “If you’d asked me a year ago, I thought we would see things tailing off – this has been a phenomenal year. We’re even seeing growth in the banking sector.
“Brexit is so undetermined at the moment that people are carrying on with their plans.”
He added: “We only need about £3m this year to hit the £200m mark. We’ve grown our workforce by over 100 in the year [to just over 250].”
On future plans, Brown said there is an “appetite for a third firm in the London fit-out market” behind the two big players in the sector, Morgan Sindall-owned Overbury and ISG.
We are pleased to share our half year summary for 2018.
Despite a slow January, the market has shown positive signs for the first two quarters. Our 6 month review covers the market indicators we track, some information on BW’s progress and details of recent projects.
75% of current BW projects are below £3M
2.2M sq ft of refurbished or new space released in central London in 2018
2.3M sq ft Central London office take up in Q1 2018
In 2017, a content creator called Oobah Butler decided that he wanted to do something with the experience he’d gained writing fake positive restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor.
What if, he wondered, he set up an entirely fictitious restaurant based in the shed in his garden and then started to manipulate TripAdvisor ratings?
What happened surpassed his wildest expectations. In just six months The Shed at Dulwich became the top-rated restaurant in London, even though nobody had ever actually eaten there, based solely on fake reviews, fake pictures and the word of mouth created by a complete inability for anybody to book a table.
It’s a tale that tells us an awful lot about the way we live now. Not least, the way in which we rely on rating systems and the Internet to tell us what we should think and do.
We routinely check TripAdvisor for our meals and hotel stays, IMDb to tell us which movies to watch and even crave the dopamine kick we get when somebody likes something we share on social media.
According to a report from online marketing firm Podium, reviews impact purchasing decisions for 93 percent of buyers, 82 percent of people now read reviews before making purchase decisions, 60 percent look at reviews on a weekly basis and if the reviews make them confident in a product or service then 68 percent of them are then willing to pay up to 15 percent more than a standard price.
This is just one part of a wider issue rooted in the increasing convergence of the digital and physical world and its ability to generate a huge amount of useful information. This process is so pervasive and based on so many data points, that it has even generated its own terminology and a number of new jobs and disciplines. Data Scientist has now been identified as the ‘best job in America’ for three years running.
Its creeping definition now incorporates a wide range of fields such as business analytics, the application of data, and good old-fashioned statistics.
In a workplace context it can range from the sort of Big Data organisations generate through the use of building sensors through to HR Analytics and the use of ratings in the supply chain.
This kind of information is obviously extremely valuable for a business. But its usefulness will depend on context and objectives. There is also a temptation to complicate issues that may be best judged with a simple binary decision between two possible outcomes.
We also have unprecedented access to the experience of our peers. Most of us commonly experience this in our day to day lives when making decisions about products and services but it’s a commonplace practice in B2B purchasing decisions too.
Google, Trustpilot, Feefo and Bazaarvoice are all commonly used B2B review sites, although Google claims an extra degree of impartiality because it does not make money directly from its reviews. Glassdoor is also important to prospective customers because they will often make a judgement about the way a firm treats its employees as a guide to its general approach to business.
Concluding, although there is a call for restrictions in the ability to create false ratings and manipulation of ratings, we must remember to never take the individual out of decision making and goal setting and remain focused on people, with all their unquantifiable preferences and behaviours.
One of the most commonly talked about issues amongst workplace professionals over the past few years has been the ability of data to transform the way we think about, plan, design and create workplaces.
Much of this debate is centred on major technological issues such as Big Data and the Internet of Things and the increasingly sophisticated approach to existing technologies such as smart building systems, booking systems and workplace sensors.
Similar trends are unfolding in the overlapping field of HR. Although HR departments have traditionally collected key information on issues such as turnover and absenteeism, the increasing convergence of the digital, physical and cultural workspace means they are more and more involved in the gathering and analysis of wider forms of data related to performance, productivity and wellbeing.
Increasingly the use of analytics in a workplace context has focused on people. A recent report from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) called The Promising State of Human Capital Analytics, suggests that nearly 70 percent of organisations are using people-based data to drive their businesses in some way.
“Successful companies tend to be those that purposefully use data to anticipate and prepare rather than to react to daily problems,” the authors say. “The future focus of professionals in the human capital analytics field will increasingly be on using analytics to guide strategic decisions and affect organizational performance.”
In a world with masses of sophisticated data, we can forget that on certain measures, success can be defined in purely binary terms. At the very outset of an office fit-out we can provide yes or no answers to the most fundamental questions of whether the project was completed on time, to budget and with no defects.
The same approach can be extended to the outcomes of the workplace design itself because it is extremely likely that it will have been created with a series of clear objectives in mind. These are likely to include the fostering of collaborative work, wellbeing and productivity, accessibility, the user experience and the integration of technology.
At the root of all these issues is how well they create a productive environment for people, and so we are fortunate that we have a range of metrics in which to assess the performance of the workplace in this regard.
The challenges we face now are massively augmented iterations of a pair of problems that we have known about for a long time, namely what to measure and what to do with the measurements we produce.
It’s important to get this right. In a business context, most people will be aware of Peter Drucker’s famous dictum that ‘what gets measured gets managed’ but maybe less so with his idea that ‘there is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.’
There is an added complication in that we can change something merely by observing it. In quantum theory this is described as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, but a similar idea is at play in working environments.
If we tell people we are measuring them by the hours they are at their desk, they will behave in one way. If we tell them instead they are to be measured on their output, they’ll behave in another.
There are lessons here for occupiers in our data rich age. Technology and data by themselves are not enough. Organisations must acquire the skills to filter and analyse data and use it to meet the right objectives and ask the right questions about what they want from their facilities, employees and working culture.
The experience people have of buying products in their personal lives has had an understandable influence on their behaviours and expectations in B2B purchasing. This sets a high bar when you consider how seamlessly efficient organisations such as Amazon are in creating satisfied customers. Nevertheless, it’s a challenge that has to be accepted and it’s important to understand what lessons can be learned from B2C providers.
One of the key drivers of satisfaction lies in interactions with technology. This isn’t just about the use of specific technologies such as eProcurement platforms but also a more generalised approach to how firms interact with clients and technology. People want technology that is easy to use and intuitive. This includes the ability to learn about products and services.
There are some aspects of organisational procurement that are unique however. For example, there are logistical and compliance issues that must be taken into account, especially for sophisticated and multi-layered purchasing decisions. There is no reason why B2B transactions can’t aspire to the same levels of excellence as those in the B2C market, but they are often far more complex. In complex business transactions, there is often almost as much focus on the journey as the destination.
While an Amazon customer will be happy to order a book and have it delivered the next day, there is no interpersonal relationship involved beyond the technological interface and no need to delayer the supply chain; for example by ordering the book from Amazon and then having it delivered by a courier of your choice because you don’t trust the one Amazon uses or you think you have a better option.
By contrast, the procurement of a workplace typically involves a complex supply chain, a long decision-making process, careful selection of suppliers or a primary supplier, the choice of procurement model and so on.
Of course, the simplest route for procurement is the selection of a single trusted supplier who then manages all of the sub-contractors and suppliers and shoulders most of any risk. Ideally this will be a transparent relationship, especially when it comes to issues such as the environmental standards of everybody in the supply chain or compliance with legislation, so the important thing is to develop trust and a mutually beneficial relationship.
However, sometimes the demands can appear contradictory. End users may want to strike the right balance between short term value and long-term return on investment. They want to work with a trusted partner, who they also want to carry most or all of the risk of the project. And they want to maintain, long-term relationships with a trusted group of suppliers while maintaining freedom to choose another procurement route.
These are not insurmountable issues and they can be overcome primarily by the development of long term relationships and a focus on long term goals. Expediency may encourage organisations to take on more risk by delayering the supply chain, and that may be the right decision in the right circumstances.
Data plays an important role in decision making about the supply chain. A 2015 study from Deloitte called Business Ecosystems Come of Age identifies the ways in which complex supplier networks that focus on knowledge sharing and collaboration add more value than simple transactions. The data sharing of everybody involved in a relationship creates new insights and allows the partnership to develop for the benefit of all parties. Thus, creating a modern way in which common problems within this area can be avoided and solved.
The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust has launched a co-working space for start-ups and small businesses working within the built environment in London. Designed by Gensler, the open-plan space is a mindful spot filled with colour and green plants that will inspire and empower its users.
Designated for networking, development and collaboration among emerging architects, designers and creatives, ‘Your Space’ will bring desk and event spaces to members who can choose between flexible or long-term memberships. Users can work across a variety of areas including the members’ studio, the residence space, meeting rooms and an event facility with a roof terrace.
The motivational setting, filled with natural daylight and colour, is designed to fuel collaboration and connectivity. This positive atmosphere manifests the emotional and physical healing process that the Trust has promoted since it was founded 20 years ago after the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993.
The centre focuses on the Trust’s work supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13-30. In 2017 alone, the SLCT supported over 2,000 young people through training, mentoring, bursaries and other activities.
The global architecture, design and planning firm, Gensler, donated time and expertise alongside fit-out contractor BW Workplace Experts and branding agency LBA to reimagine space within the existing centre that opened its doors in 2007.
The team reconfigured three floors of the centre, opening space up and evolving its purpose while maintaining the spirit of its aims. Solid walls were replaced with glazed partitions and an upbeat glowing orange colour was painted across the floors, walls and ceilings of the centre, which connects the different spaces together.
Just a few years ago the conversation between fit-out specialist, designer, end-user and client about ceilings would have been a short one, particularly in the commercial office sector. It wasn’t quite the Henry Ford line of ‘You can have whatever colour you want – as long as its black’ but it wouldn’t have been far off.
Ceilings were suspended and white. Maybe off-white. Tiles could be slightly bigger or slightly smaller whichever you preferred and there was a choice of manufacturing material. Mineral fibre or occasionally fibreglass. In short there wasn’t much choice. Nobody really considered the ceiling in the design. It was there to cover the slab soffit, untidily fixed and unsightly services and maybe absorb a bit of sound.
It’s all different now. Thanks to energy efficiency and the trend for open soffit ceilings as well as the study of the effects of acoustics and lighting on comfort and productivity, the possibilities for ceiling design is limitless – almost.
What is sure though is that clients, designers, acousticians and illumination engineers have taken on this brave new world and run with it. They have woken up to the myriad of finishes and colours, materials and contrasts that are available and applied them across all solutions including tiles, baffles, panels, cooling and lighting systems. This has encouraged manufacturers to produce a wider range of solutions in stock and as well as attractive, top of the range bespoke designs.
There are some great examples of ceiling systems that fully utilise the flexibility of materials available and quality of design excellence to which some clients are prepared to stretch. It went beyond the limit of what we thought was possible and pushed ceiling design and installation on to the next level.
Educated clients rightly expect the very best and are prepared to invest time and money into the design are few and far between – but that’s not to say those on tighter budgets shouldn’t expect similarly architecturally striking designs. There are plenty of products by various manufacturers that can deliver them and seemingly everyone is better educated about ceiling systems and what can be achieved now.
Different sectors will want different solutions and the key is to be flexible enough to be able to deliver those solutions, sometimes within the same office and part of the same contract. Firms working in traditionally staid industries such as law for example might recognise that it needs the chic, trendy clear soffit ‘industrial’ look for its main staff floors to attract younger workers who expect that working environment.
But in its client areas and meeting rooms the old, traditional look of wood and panelling is still expected. Their clients find it comforting. The delivery of a mixed scheme like that means that ceiling systems bought off the shelf may have to be mixed and matched to suit each client. It means manufacturers must be able to cope with a wider offering than they have at any time in the past, a challenge they have met ably so far.
For contractors and fit-out companies the supply chain needs to be flexible enough in what it can offer. Delivering that flexibility is key for all.
Joe Garner is the latest workplace expert to join our contracts manager family and brings over 21 years of experience to the team.
We sat down with Joe to find out a bit more about his past experience and find out how he is finding BW so far…
Quick overview about your background?
My dad was a builder so I have been on sites since I was about 12, it is in my blood. I started off with a law degree but ended up doing a conversion course and taking my RICS exams. I have worked in construction ever since.
What types of projects have you worked on previously?
I worked on a variety of projects over my time, everything from Chiltern Firehouse to £57M apartments in Hyde Park. However, the main focus of my work was sub £1M office fit outs, I did many of these.
What were the main challenges you found when working on sub £1M projects and how did you overcome them?
Time management is a huge challenge as you are often working on more than one project at any given time. You need to ensure you understand your client’s needs and can provide a high quality service at all times.
Programme management is also a challenge. You need to make sure all your ducks are in a row before you start as you don’t have time for changes. Securing high quality supply chain is key to this. I overcame this challenge by offering repeat work.
Finally, working in occupied buildings is always a challenge. No matter what sized project you are working on.
What would be your advice for minimising disruption when working in occupied buildings?
Communication is key. You need to ensure that all stakeholders are fully aware of what is going on in terms of noisy works, deliveries and general construction.
It is also important that you understand your client’s business needs, important dates and times, key meetings and sensitive areas so you can manage this in terms of programming and the work in sequence.
How does BW differ to your past companies?
The office is a lot nicer than anywhere I have worked before.
Also the level of support in terms of bids and bid design. Smaller works don’t always have the same level of focus in this area so it is a refreshing change.
Finally, the level of support in terms of training. I have only been here two weeks and I am already signed up to a learning and development course. It is very refreshing to see that level of investment in staff.
If you have any questions, or a project you would like Joe’s advice on, please get in touch: Joe Garner, Joe.Garner@wearebw.com
BW sizing up bigger jobs and overseas alliances as it aims to push income to a ‘comfortable’ £250m
London fit-out and refurbishment specialist BW: Workplace Experts says it is hoping to hit the £250m turnover mark in a couple of years’ time as the firm looks to cash in on the capital’s booming interiors market.
Based at Old Bailey, close to the criminal court of the same name and next door to Paternoster Square in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral, around half of the firm’s business is for projects which are below £3m.
But BW says it is increasingly being asked to compete against larger rivals such as ISG and Morgan Sindall-owned Overbury for bigger jobs.
Its sales and marketing director Anthony Brown said: “On the very large projects, above £10m or so, consultants in the industry perceive that they would like more choice and so they’re pushing us very enthusiastically to be that choice.”
Its roll call of larger schemes is growing, with the firm currently working on four jobs worth above £20m – two of which are for occupiers at developer Argent’s King’s Cross scheme – and it is expecting to start on site fitting out the English National Ballet’s new home at Ballymore’s City Island scheme in Canning Town, east London, by the summer.
It has also landed a spot on HM Revenue & Customs’ fit-out framework, as the taxman consolidates its estate into 13 regional centres including two in London and the South-east at Stratford and Croydon – with the office in the south London borough at One Ruskin Square, built by Lendlease, the first to open last September under its new strategy.
Founded by former Royal Marine Mark Richards and Craig Foster, who started out as a QS back in the early 1980s, BW emerged in 2000 after the pair left fit-out firm Bellwater. In summer 2017 Richards and Foster sold the business to its management, stepping down as directors – although they retain a minority 40% stake.
The deal gives the firm’s chief executive Steve Elliott and four directors – finance director Andrew Bradley, customer experience director Rob Frank, pre-construction director Colin Ogden and sales and marketing director Anthony Brown – a majority shareholding of 60%.
Elliott said there had always been “a very informal agreement” for the directors to acquire the business and it “got to the point where they [Foster and Richards] wanted to exit”, adding that it was a “golden opportunity” to own and develop the firm.
This includes hiking revenue from an expected £150m last year by another £100m by 2020. Its financial year closed at the end of last month and is expected to see it post a pre-tax profit of £4m when its results are published later this spring.
“We don’t have the demands of a public company or hedge fund that force you to do things that go against your values. We could grow the business to £300m or £400m but that’s not where we want to be. We’re comfortable at a quarter of a billion,” added Elliott, who spent nearly a quarter of a century at Morgan Sindall.
In its most recent published full year results, the 200-strong firm posted a £100m turnover and £2m pre-tax profit for the 15 months ending December 2016.
But Brown said it wants more and added: “We’re keen to build the business to a size where we can roll with whatever’s going on in the industry.
“If the market tails off a bit over the next few years, we can still afford to keep the company sustainable, keep the people we’ve recruited, and if we take a little less profit we take a little less profit. We haven’t got the City breathing down our neck.”
The firm, which specialises in office and higher education fit-outs, says it has no plans to break out of its London and South-east stronghold into other parts of the UK.
Instead, the firm is looking overseas to borrow ideas and increase business, announcing last August that it had linked up with US turnkey construction company HITT for a global alliance.
BW had already struck a similar deal with Australian fit-out firm Shape the year before. Elliott said the aim of the alliances is to share clients, as well as innovation and development and to develop employees.
Ensuring our workplace experts understand the wider business and how roles and relationships differ is a key priority for BW. We believe this allows our teams to fully understand our 2021 vision and how we can work together to achieve it.
Our client-focused BDM, Becky, recently swapped roles with Lawrence and became a TSM for the day. Now it’s Lawrence’s turn to try his hand as a BDM. Find out how he got on…
What would you say the priorities of a BDM are?
I didn’t realise how hard the role of a BDM is. There’s so much to remember and a lot of people to remember.
I would say the main priorities are a, bringing in work and b, keeping relationships with clients going.
What did you find fun?
The whole day was fun. It was interesting to see how upbeat and positive BDMs have to be all the time. TSMs don’t have to be quite so upbeat.
What did you find shocking?
How many people Becky knows in the industry and how much she knows about future projects.
What was the most difficult part of being a BDM?
Keeping positive the whole time. A skill in itself.
How does a BDM’s role differ to your role and how is it similar?
The amount of your own time you have to dedicate to the role is the most different thing about being a BDM. We are similar in the sense that we are both client facing and both have to remember knowledge about projects. Just different knowledge.
Take three professions: one that studies the past, one very much in the present examining biological, chemical and physical principals of the living, and another that is designing the physical future, and what have you got? Believe it or not these are just three of the previous careers of some of the business development team at BW. So what does an Archaeologist, a Biochemist and an Architect have in common? Other than BW!
Charlotte Murray, Business Development Executive has been with BW for a year and studied Archeology at Cardiff University. She was lured into the construction industry for a number of reasons…
“I really like that this job is a physical thing you can actually see. We work in the office but then can go and see what your work and efforts are going towards. I like the pace of change in the industry and development in terms of technology, it moves along with how society is modernising which I find really exciting.”
Alina Sudra, is the Events and Business Development Administrator at BW, graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. After a brief stint in retail, Alina worked for biomedical and science journals and publishers within their marketing divisions, which helped Alina realise her real passion for event organising. Her search to find the perfect company led her to BW for her dream role as Events and Business Development Administrator.
Helen Lowe, Business Development Manager, is a newbie to the business. After studying Interior Architecture & Design at Nottingham Trent University, Helen worked as an Interior Designer at TP Bennett, Cushman & Wakefield and BDG before making the move to BW. She explains the allure of the industry…
“I’ve always loved the project process from pitch to completion and have been very business minded so my new business development role at BW is a really exciting opportunity. I really enjoy meeting new people and finding out about their project needs and implementing these ideas from project stages right through to onsite construction.”
There is a great emphasis on transferrable skills in the modern workplace, not that anyone can do anything but recognise how the different types of learning and understanding can be applied for the benefit of an organisation. It important to note that diversity is not a one-way street and companies benefit hugely from having a varied mix of knowledge and experience to draw upon.
Attracting good people from other professions is also testament to the importance of an appealing workplace culture, as Anthony Brown confirms. “What biochemistry, architecture and archeology have in common is curiosity for either how the world works or how our environment shapes us.
A natural curiosity and thirst for information and knowledge is a great start for recruiting a potentially work-class workforce.”
– Anthony Brown, Sales & Marketing Director, BW: Workplace Experts
Ian Morrow, committed jazz fan, marginal gains advocate and lover of good wine joined BW in 2016 to head up one of our teams. His 35 years’ experience in construction management brings extensive knowledge and an open and honest approach to managing and exceeding client’s expectations in his role of Operations Director.
There’s an array of challenges which go hand-in-hand with projects, particularly in occupied buildings. Ian has developed his own skill set to overcome these; we picked his brain so we could share them with you.
Tell us about your greatest career challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
I have been faced with a number of challenges over the last 35 years. The number one rule I would always say to overcome project challenges is to make sure you develop effective site delivery teams. As a manager you need to show good leadership, set clear goals and objectives and establish checks and balances to ensure the objectives are being met.
What are the systematic problems in the industry that need to be resolved?
The development of the new generation of project managers to take the fit out industry forward. The industry is currently faced with an ageing workforce and the only way to overcome this is through training, investment, mentoring and the integration of new technologies and systems such as BIM.
How can you minimise the pain of working with base build contractors?
Make sure there’s early level engagement with the contractor to ensure that the base build meets the expectations of the design team and the end user client. Often we are faced with situations where client’s designs are compromised by deficiencies in base build construction. There needs to be a greater level of collaboration between base build and fit out contractors.
How can we support major occupiers when a project ends?
We need to understand that the work is not finished at completion. The legacy we leave is how we support clients working in new environments, with new technologies and who are adopting new ways of working. We need to provide a seamless transition between the fit out of the building and the ongoing operation and management of the space. In order to achieve this, key project team members need to remain on site to ensure the knowledge about our client’s new space is passed on to the client using the building the person responsible for maintaining the building.
What are your 3 tips for successfully delivering large-scale projects?
1) Breakdown the project into manageable sections with clear deliverables for each and make sure you understand the dependencies of each work stream.
2) Put together the very best team of industry-leading construction staff. Empower the team to ensure they take responsibility and are accountable for the project.
3) Clearly define the quality of expectations from the outset and ensure they are monitored and maintained throughout. The quality aspect of any project doesn’t happen in the last six weeks, it happens throughout the project. In BW this process is underpinned by our DF@PC mantra.
If you have any further questions for Ian or would like help on a current project, please get in touch.
You may have seen BW’s ‘day in the life’ videos recently. At BW we encourage our workplace experts to find out about the wider business, develop technical knowledge and understand how roles and relationships differ.
As part of this, two of our workplace experts decided to swap jobs for the day to learn more about what one another do. One of our BDMs, Becky, recently spent an entire day shadowing Lawrence, rolling her sleeves up and truly becoming a TSM for the day. We sat down with Becky after to find out what she learnt…
What would you say the priorities of a TSM are?
Bringing a building to life. It can seem that most people focus on the aesthetics of a fit out, but when you think about it, the most important bit is whether the lighting is good enough or ensuring the air conditioning is working and so on. It’s easy to overlook how important these aspects are for the occupier.
What did you find fun?
The sense of camaraderie and acting as mediators between traditional contractors and building managers. It was also really fascinating to see how building systems interlinked.
What did you find shocking?
Going to a ‘caf’ at 11am for burgers is an unforgettable experience!
What was the most difficult part of being a TSM?
Understanding the sheer amount of jargon and technical language you need to know and being able to communicate it to stakeholders from totally different backgrounds.
How does a TSM’s role differ to your role and how is it similar?
Both roles involve a certain amount of acting as a middle man, the difference is that a TSM has to resolve issues instantly to ensure a timely project, whereas a BDM has to look at the big picture.
Next stop, Lawrence is booked in for a full day of being a BDM. Check back to find out how he found it…
Working in collaboration with Gensler and Slender Winter Partnership, BW are close to completing their team of subcontractor and supplier experts to help deliver the refurbishment of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust Hub in Deptford.
The mission of the project is to transform some of the existing spaces within the Stephen Lawrence Centre to provide a creative incubator space (HUB), for young start-ups within the built environment. This will enable the trust to extend the support they provide to young people post education, and also generate unrestricted funding for the charity, directly impacting their ability to deliver their objectives.
This project will mark the 25th Anniversary year of Stephen’s murder, and create a legacy for the Trust to continue its work for the next 25 years.
There will be a large scale opening event attended by the Trusts extensive network of industry professionals.
To learn more about how your involvement will positively impact the wider work of the Trust, take at all at their programmes here
We have already secured strong support from Daiken, Mala, Maze Engineering, Moyne Electrical, Sale Service & Maintenance, Innovation Air Conditioning, Arena Electrical, Elite Electrical, Soltech Blinds, Loughton Flooring, Supagold Flooring, Affinity Flooring, Pan Arc, Optima, OAG, TFA Raised Floors, Furniture Contracts, Specialist Joinery Group, Realm Projects, Fabritrak, Autex, WBS Builders, Waterman and Forza Doors. on a pro-bono basis, and are missing just one last piece of the jigsaw to enable us to start the works.
Dulux have kindly agreed to supply all paint free of charge but we need a team of decorating companies to help undertake the works planned for November ‘17 through January ‘18.
If you believe you can help please contact Colin Ogden, Peter Flynn, Steve Elliott or Rob Frank for further details: 0207 593 9900, email@example.com.
How encrypted databases and cryptocurrencies could transform the way contracts are managed and payments are sent within the construction industry
It’s not often that you get to tie the conservative world of construction together with the hi-octane lifestyle of Superstar DJs, but if the former were to look at the advantages of the latest secure communications techniques then it really could be rubbing shoulders with the later.
It might take a leap of tremendous faith – not something the construction industry is traditionally blessed with – but with a little forethought and a willingness to plunge headlong into the choppy waters of cryptocurrencies, the industry could be looking at waving goodbye to the scourge of late payments, retentions and cashflow crises and saying hello to smart contracts and instant payment.
The route to this fiscally efficient Shangri-La is through Blockchain technology. Fundamentally the blockchain is a database made from a series of secure, encrypted entries – or blocks – that can contain information. The information in these blocks is confirmed at the point of acceptance into the chain and is then secured, making it virtually impossible to alter any of the data that they contain without the acceptance or knowledge of other sections of the chain – perfect for international money transfers, shareholder information or indeed complicated and nuanced business contracts.
With a little forethought and a willingness to plunge headlong into the choppy waters of cryptocurrencies, the industry could be looking at waving goodbye to the scourge of late payments.
The music world has already cottoned on to the idea that the blockchain can help deliver payment fairly and instantly. American star DJ Deadly Buda is using the system to pay the artists that feature in his latest ‘Rock the Blockchain’ music mix. He has integrated smart contracts into the blockchain that supports the Musicoin cryptocurrency and by attaching them to this latest mix, those artists are paid their royalties with seconds of the mix being played.
Now the success of that system rather depends on everyone in the system being signed up to the Musicoin currency and happy to be paid in it, but swap Musicoin for a more widely accepted cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, DJ Deadly Buda for a main contractor and the supplementary artists for sub-contractors and it is easy to see just how blockchain technology could benefit the construction industry.
By placing all contractual requirements within smart contracts and the financial triggers within the blockchain then we could see sub-contractors getting paid automatically and immediately – with no contractual fighting and an indisputable trail of proof showing clauses had been met.
If blockchain has the potential to integrate with BIM software, then it could automatically generate contracts between supplier when amendments are made to construction model.
It is the ability to create, validate, authenticate and audit contracts and agreements in real-time, across borders, without third-party intervention, almost standardisation by proxy, that makes this technology so appealing to the construction world. Blockchain also takes transparency to a new level with ability to track the supply chain in terms of material, contracts and payments, with ‘real-time’ information regarding when material have arrived on site.
Operationally, if blockchain has the potential to integrate with BIM software, then it could automatically generate contracts between supplier when amendments/updates are made to construction model.
Of course, there is the relative danger of the unknown. The concept of dealing within a currency that is supported only by the fact that there are so many others exposed to it even the prospect of its failure is viewed as abhorrent, can be difficult for some to accept.
But for others the blockchain has the potential to offer a secure alternative to the traditional banking process, saving time and money while also offering the chance of real, tangible benefit to the supply chain with smarter, cost effective, fair and immediate contracts.
The deal gives the senior management team a majority shareholding of 60%; BW founders and co-owners Craig Foster and Mark Richards retain a combined minority stake of 40%.
We feel strongly that it is the optimum time for BW to make this transition due to the following factors: sustainable increasing profits, growth story for the future, strong cash flow, brand advantage and untapped potential for a high-quality/service fit out company.
It has been a transformative 3 years for BW with new management appointments, rebranding, new headquarters and a strengthening of our team of experts.
The MBO will help us keep up this momentum into the future. We have an ambitious strategy to become the first 100% Defect Free company.
HITT provide a wide range of services from corporate campus development to small jobs, service and emergency work, offering the resources to support all commercial contracting needs.
HITT has a fit-out turnover of $500m ($1.3bn total), operating from its headquarters in Washington DC, they also have offices throughout the US in Atlanta, Baltimore, Charleston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York, Richmond, Seattle, South Florida and Northern California.
Steve Elliot, CEO said: “There are three objectives to our global alliances: sharing clients, developing globally minded employees, and sharing innovation and development. HITT, like Shape, aspire to the same highest standards of service delivery and quality as BW, the partnerships allow us to share development ideas and cost on a global scale.”
Our first alliance was with SHAPE, one of Australia’s largest fitout and refurbishment specialists, who share an ethos of collaboration to project delivery to ensure the journey is enjoyable for all stakeholders with zero disruption to business operations.
Monica Parker delivered a provocative, inspiring talk in our office today. Artificial intelligence, Universal Income and the importance of purpose, curiosity and awe: we got through a lot in an hour.
Keep an eye out for our future forums where we’ll be discussing the impact that blockchain (apologies for those expecting that today), high security, hacking, and bots/virtual agents, will have on our working lives.
BBC Security Correspondent, Journalist and Author, Frank Gardner, will be talking about How London Will be Affected by Perpetual High Security at our next seminar on October 19th.
If you are interested in attending, please drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UK construction industry is possibly the most traditional of traditional industries. This is an industry that has been quick to say, ‘We’ve always done it that way’ and instead of dipping its toe in the bubbling waters of innovation has, in the main, prefers the tried and tested.
In fairness, it hasn’t all been about resistance from the industry itself. The money men should put their hands up and admit their unwillingness to accept any sort of perceived risk has stifled the take up of new technology within the construction sector. But times are changing and they must. The industry is in the middle of a skills crisis, which with the advent of Brexit is only likely to become more acute.
This is where technology can step in. If we can’t attract more skilled staff into the sector or train up enough apprentices in time to make a dent in those targets then we will have to utilise our existing expertise more efficiently. What is the point in tying up skilled engineers for a few days carrying out pre-and post-construction site surveys when the whole thing can be done in a couple of passes of a drone?
As well as training up a gang of bricklayers, why not help make the ones we do have more efficient and work more healthily by using some form of automation? There are already examples of these robot bricklayers working on sites across the US and capable of laying five times the average of their human peers. They still need brickies working alongside them to clean and strike the joints but really, how long can we ignore those sorts of efficiencies?
Thankfully the industry is starting to wake up to the fact that it needs to embrace the 21st Century – and beyond to the 22nd. Now companies are looking from beyond the realms of the construction sector to import technology that could be useful. One major civil engineering contractor is using computer technology imported from the world of physics to more accurately predict the strength-gain of concrete after it has been poured. By using this technology, the contractor’s teams can save time and improve site efficiency by stripping formwork earlier in the construction process. The time gains are significant.
Others are looking at importing developments in the use of sensors to improve the health and safety of their existing workforce. They are looking at trialling site safety helmets fitted with sensors that indicate when a worker is tired and ready for a break. A tired worker is an unsafe worker and so it makes sense to protect that worker – and those working alongside – from the effects of fatigue.
Gloves similarly fitted with sensors to help protect staff against the effect of Hand Arm Vibration syndrome (HAVs) more commonly known as vibration white finger are also being developed.
The construction industry has done well over the last 10 years to accept and embrace the use of Building Information Modelling but there are still so many untapped areas for the industry to exploit. Energy efficient design, analytics and cloud computing, robotics and automation, machine learning and data mining, open data and social media.
The toolboxes of yesterday’s sites will be very different to those of tomorrow.
Vicki Webb is senior designer at BW: Workplace Experts
As technology pushes huge step-changes through traditional industries the well-established business mantra ‘Adapt or die’ has never been more prescient.
Uber is a classic disruptive innovation but is there any chance this ‘Uberisation’ could happen in construction, one of the UK’s most conservative sectors?
Theoretically, yes. In fact, you could argue that one of Uber’s basic tenets, that of dynamic pricing, is already alive and well in the construction sector. In Uberland the price for a journey can vary as supply and demand varies. Number of drivers = higher fares until those high fares in turn attract more drivers. Swap ‘driver’ for ‘stock brick’ and the rampant price increases witnessed when hiked demand from housebuilders caught brick makers napping a few years ago, reflects that same dynamic pricing model.
Similar fluctuations can happen with most construction commodities. Steel, concrete, timber and of course bricks, have all seen demand outstrip supply recently leading to the solution to the bulk of dynamic pricing models – throw more cash at it.
Where the construction industry is vulnerable to true Uberisation is with the supply of labour – skilled or unskilled; blue or white collar.
Uber is successful thanks to the commoditisation of an individual driver. The client has limited control over the quality of a car and the journey can be treated as a commercial purchase of a commodity – in this case 15 minutes or so of the driver’s time.
That sort of exchange could and should be available to those looking for plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, quantity surveyors or engineers. Indeed, there are some online platforms that offer – for a yearly fee – their services as a holding pot of available construction staff. It is a model that has worked in the fast staffing turnover world of call centres and could equally apply to the building site.
Except that construction has nowhere near the staff churn of an average call centre. Construction workers will take into consideration other factors such as length of project and job security, convenience and career progression and balance that against the thorny issue of wages. The mechanics of hiring an electrician for a six-month project is very different to those of hiring a taxi driver for 15 minutes.
But these are revolutionary times. Across the pond in New York City the construction labour market has changed drastically since the lowest ebb of the downturn in 2008. Here in a city that at one point could boast an almost 100% union backed workforce is starting to move away from this expensive closed shop model.
With thousands of workers coming onto the open market contractors and developers have been emboldened to use non-union workers on their ‘open shop’ sites. With an estimated 10-15% cost savings it is easy to see why. Now estimates put the union controlled workforce at less than 50% – a remarkable figure given the former strength of the construction unions in the city.
If a market like New York City can be shaken to its foundations, there are few reasons why the UK construction industry couldn’t be similarly revolutionised.
Anthony Brown, Sales & Marketing Director from BW: Workplace Experts
The construction industry is particularly affected by mental health issues, one person in our sector commits suicide every other day on average. It is for this reason why we decided to make Rethink our corporate charity for 2016-2017.
“By working with Rethink we hope to raise the issue of mental illness on the agenda for our industry and hope to help alleviate some of the ignorance and stigma around a problem that is so prolific in the construction industry.” – Steve Elliott, CEO, BW.
Over the last year our workplace experts have raised over £6,000 for the charity. The fundraising efforts have ranged from Tough Mudder sporting events, bake sales, site activities and sub-contractor donations.
We would like to thank everyone who has raised money, sponsored and supported our experts over the last year and we look forward to continuing our support this year.
Now housed in Fitzrovia’s One Fitzroy place, the Fit Out of The Estée Lauder Companies building unites over 25 brands whilst retaining their identity in an open and flexible environment designed to attract and retain talent. Set over 10 floors, all the individual brands shine and have their own identity within the business, yet technology also allows key areas to be rebranded at the touch of a button.
The first HQ designed predominately for women fosters a sense of community between each of the brands and encourages employee interaction.
Congratulations to the whole professional team for creating an inspiring workplace ideally suited for the Estée Lauder family.
Good luck to the team for the national BCO awards in October.
However, quality can be subjective so mock-ups are critical to achieve early agreements on project standards.
Our workplace experts create mock-ups where possible to ensure the whole team is happy with key project features before the full works start. Setting expectations helps BW achieve a snag free project and ultimately, assists in achieving Defect Free for our clients.
Here’s a staircase mock-up and reception wall mock-up from two of our current sub £2M projects.
Works below £2M are a key focus for BW, if you have a project we can help with, or if you would like to see one of our working sites, please let us know.
Special thanks to our contributors: Tom Buckley, Core Five LLP; James Siederer, Gensler; Natalie Walker, TP Bennett; Harriet Wiseman, HLW International; Guru Thiru, Omobono; Rebecca Parish, Man Bites Dog; Becky Craddock, BW: Workplace Experts and Leanne Baird, BW: Workplace Experts.
According to bookmaker William Hill, if you’d put a £1 accumulator bet on Leicester City to win the Premiership, the Brexit vote and Donald Trump becoming President of the United States, you could now be sitting on £4.5m. There aren’t many years when three such major events were surrounded by so much unpredictability and attracted such long odds! It is for this reason why we decided to ask our millennials for their top 3 predictions for 2017; one probable, one unlikely and one wild card. There was also a lot of debate in the BW office in the New Year about the infamous out of office and whether, in our hyper-connected world, it is still relevant. Again, we thought the best people to debate this with our millennials.
The points raised throughout the discussion are concluded below.
What are your three market predictions for 2017?
Our millennials were united in predicting that inflation will rise and there will be a slowdown in construction with a focus on projects below 25,000 sq ft instead of major works. Larger businesses are having to more carefully evaluate risks and are less willing to take chances in this uncertain climate. It was suggested that London would be the city worst hit by Brexit, leaving other UK cities such as Birmingham and Manchester to pick up the work.
On a more positive note, the group hoped that house prices will become more affordable and healthcare will be improved. Easier immigration from non EU countries to the UK and more job opportunities outside the EU was also suggested as there will be less bias towards Europe.
With all the shocking political and social decisions of the last year, many of our millennials agreed that it is almost impossible to guess what could happen in the following year. Our millennials simultaneously agreed that everyone is simply riding the year still in shock after Trump and Brexit, unsure and nervous of what steps to take next.
The question of ‘who is going to fix the situation?’ was posed during the first course and the group agreed that we need to accept the challenges and develop our culture to adapt to the changes. It was also suggested that there was a social responsibility on millennials’ shoulders as they are the group likely to be most affected by the political changes. It was predicted that instead of mirroring the active 80s protests, millennials will grumble passively on social media.
Social media makes people feel as though they are contributing rather than just sitting at home, it’s dangerous. Millennials’ predictions are that technology will begin to take over our lives in the near future, covering every aspect of work and play. Disagreeing, some millennials felt that technology doesn’t yet offer the flexibility, design and creative abilities humans do, until they do so they’ll only act as aids not substitutes for people.
Do you think the out of office is dead? Do we need to evolve our work/life balance?
We are not machines. We cannot keep functioning forever without a break. Our millennials agreed with this statement and shared thoughts on other working cultures where they are not allowed to check their work phones after 5pm, for example, France.
The importance of taking time out and communicating with colleagues was stressed by the group as it allows you to develop crucial workplace relationships and friendships, and enables you to be more productive for the rest of the day. Efficient working relies on a balanced life.
The out of office is crucial for us to be able to separate our minds from work whilst being polite and courteous to the individuals contacting us. This is not only necessary but also fundamental to ensure our brains can completely relax and be invigorated to work hard with and create new innovative ideas.
People don’t just have more and better ideas by simply working harder. This creates a paradox because the habits that are bad for productivity may be good for creativity.
In a recent Ted Talk, entitled ‘The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers’, the business psychologist Adam Grant identified the challenges associated with this paradox, not least that many of the most original thinkers are habitual procrastinators. “People who wait until the last minute are so busy goofing off that they don’t have any new ideas,” he says in his talk. “On the flip side, those who race in are in such a frenzy of anxiety that they don’t have original thoughts either. While trying to put these findings into a book, I decided to teach myself to procrastinate. I woke up early the next morning and made a to-do list of how to get nothing done. As was scheduled, I one day put the book away in mid-sentence for months. It was agony. But when I came back to it, I had new ideas.”
So, maybe one of the ultimate causes of the UK’s enduring productivity gap is the desire to put more hours in, to do more, to make ourselves busy when what we really should be focussed on is how to be more creative and have better ideas.
Buyers are no longer satisfied merely to know that the products they buy meet specific environmental standards and are made from recycled and sustainable materials. They want to know where those materials came from, who made the products, what processes were used, where they were made and how they were transported.
This is crystallising into a very sophisticated response from suppliers and manufacturers which means people and firms not only want to buy the most sustainable products in terms of materials, processes and recyclability, but also buy them from suppliers who can demonstrate a sustainable approach in all aspects of their business.
These are welcome developments. They challenge the cynicism that has grown up around the greenwashing of products and the mundane claims of some firms. They help to circumvent the homogeneity of standards that can reduce client briefs to box ticking exercises and instead allows everybody to work in partnership to create sophisticated, transparent and enlightened approaches to supply chain management.
Yet their productivity is not increasing. This counter-intuitive outcome is the productivity paradox that is debated endlessly by economists, politicians and business leaders.
When it comes to possible solutions, they may all be looking in the wrong place. A growing body of evidence suggests that productivity is linked directly to people’s happiness and wellbeing. For example, a report published at the end of 2016 by economist Dr Eugenio Proto of the University of Warwick concludes that there is a direct correlation between a rise in happiness and an increase in productivity, based on the experience of a number of large companies who took part in the research.
One of the best explanations for this link between happiness and productivity is also one of the oldest and best known. Abraham Maslow first proposed his model of the hierarchy of needs in a 1943 paper called ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’. His work has been paralleled and built upon by other researchers since, but few have had the influence and longevity.
It says a lot that it still seems relevant in the 21st Century and may be the key to solving one of the economy’s most intractable conundrums.
Straight after announcing the Government’s plan for Brexit last week, the Prime Minister Theresa May presented the UK’s stance on global economic policy and opportunity at Davos, The World Economic Forum that brings together political and business leaders from around the world.
Last week also saw Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States of America. This diary clash with Davos hasn’t gone unnoticed with some pundits suggesting that Davos without Trump is a bit like ‘Hamlet without the Prince”. However, this may just be setting the scene for a less predictable (but not unexciting) political landscape that faces us all in 2017.
As some of the surprises of last year have now become a reality, we thought it would be fun to ask the BW team for some thoughts on what they think may lie ahead in 2017.
Andrew Bradley, Finance Director
Likely – Demand will remain despite the cataclysmic developments of 2016 in Brexit and Trump and rent prices will be static
Probable – More agile working development will be undertaken by clients who are looking for ways to be more efficient in their use of space and not take on extra space if not necessary
Unlikely – The owner of the shard, impressed by the decor of trump towers, will refurbish the building in Trump’s favourite colours
Rob Frank, Customer Experience Director
Likely – Increase interest from international buyers both in housing and commercial due to weaker pound.
Probable – No luxury price growth in the city
Unlikely – Buy to let will boom
Anthony Brown, Sales & Marketing Director
Likely – Strong economic growth in US (inflation, with at least 2 interest rate rises in the US)
Probable – Angela Merkel will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian efforts towards Muslim refugees
Unlikely – Neylon – London and New York relocate to a sunny mid-Atlantic island location and declare independence
Steve Elliot, CEO
Likely – Chelsea will win the Premiership despite Diego Costa selling out to the Chinese.
Probable – Nothing will change with Trump in power
Unlikely – Brexit accelerates labour shortages and CEO’s have to do a weekly shift on site.
Peter Nagle, Contracts Director
Likely – Digital Construction will develop further with the development of BIM level 3
Probable – More companies investing in the UK to avoid EU law, regulations and tax
Unlikely – Trump will build a Narco-style wall
Lydia Millard, Senior Business Development Manager
Likely – Gentle slowdown in construction but Cat A and <£25M will remain strong
Probable – Nothing will change with Trump in power
Unlikely – Artificial intelligence development will accelerate and robots will take over from humans as the superior race
We’d love to hear thoughts on 2017, please share your predictions!
The first project to have been shortlisted for ‘Best Fit Out of Workplaces’ is our 13,417 m2 hotel quality Fit Out of One Fizroy, London with MCM Architecture.
With the client’s vision in mind a number of innovative solutions across the whole project were developed including;
A fully integrated Room Booking, Brand Identity, Access Control and Conference Delegate System.
Significant reduction in personal office space and the delivery of greater collaborative working.
The creation of the M’Office space to allow cellular offices to be used by teams when designated occupiers are absent from the office.
Collaborative Procurement (Hybrid Two Stage Design and Build) which allowed clarity on risk sharing, maintained high degree of control over design by the client but maintained competition up to contract.
The procurement resulted in a well- focused and collegiate working experience for both construction partner, client and design team.
The second project to have been shortlisted for ‘Projects up to 1500m2’ is our brand new office at 5 Old Bailey, fitted out in collaboration with KKS.
The office was designed with a sense of community in mind. We deliberately incorporated lots of collaboration spaces to not only enable our staff to work together but encourage our clients and partners to work agile when they are in town. People love working in coffee shops which is why we wanted to create a similar vibe and buzz here.
Our main brand narrative is ‘Built With: Personality’ – the sense of community created in the office design reflects this value and really encourages staff to work together and learn from each other. There is a real sense of spirits being lifted since we moved into the new space. It is a really bright, fresh design which really reflects the evolution of the brand into a new breed of innovative Fit Out contractor.
We are currently looking for a full-time Estimating Administrator to provide support to a team of 6 in a demanding and fast moving environment. The successful candidate will be self-motivated, methodical and proactive in their approach to the work.
Strolling around 700 Bourke Street in Melbourne, home to National Australia Bank, and visitors could be forgiven for thinking they’re in a shopping centre not an office. The ground-floor “village” has racks for 600 bicycles, a pedestrian forecourt that funnels into a pyramidal central atrium, there’s a rooftop garden and people can even stop for a coffee, access the free wi-fi and rub shoulders with the bank’s 6,000 staff.
Designed by Woods Bagot, the 63,000sqm building heralds what many believe the modern workplaces now needs to be – a place that doesn’t just house staff, but involves the local community.
“Australia is about eight years ahead of the rest of the world,” says Anthony Brown, Sales and Marketing Director at BW: Workplace Experts. “But more and more buildings are now incorporating areas they want the community to embrace.” And, according to Mr Brown and other experts, this dual-use is as much being driven by employers as it is by architects and town planners.
“The new premise is that a building should be part of the community,” says Matthew Blain, design leader and principal at design practice Hassell. “Not only is this because employers want to attract people as potential employees from the local area, but there is a growing sense they should give back to the community they occupy too. In particular, the young have different demands about what they expect buildings to do; they see community participation as an important reason for choosing an employer in the first place.”
Chris Hiatt, director of London real estate developer Landid, says: “There is no distinction between work and life anymore, which means buildings need more public-like amenities.” But the overwhelming reason is to achieve what architects are increasingly calling “place-making”.
According to Colin Macgadie, creative director at building design consultancy BDG: “Employers are wanting to break down the ‘ivory tower’ view of offices. It’s crazy most workspaces stand empty after 6pm through to 8am the following morning. Giving an office area back to the community after hours, or even during the day, keeps a building vibrant, gives it more of a purpose, keeps the neighbourhood exciting.”
Mr Hiatt adds: “Employers no longer know what their day-to-day headcounts are. As buildings are already morphing into places to meet people rather than be home to desks, the view is why shouldn’t the public enjoy this meeting space too?”
With his team he is working on buildings designed specifically to incorporate public space and invite community participation. These include the Charter Building in Uxbridge, west London.
Mr Macgadie has done extensive work with ad agency WPP developing their Ideal Office concept globally. The latest project will redevelop the Rivierstaete building on the banks of the Amstel River in Amsterdam.
Other new developments include the soon-to-open White Collar Factory development in London, which specifically features a mix of office, retail and residential space, plus a new public square to be called Old Street Yard. Created by regeneration company, Derwent London, White Collar Factory comprises 237,000sqft of office space, but there will be 56,000sqft of public campus-style areas.
Derwent’s director Simon Silver says: “This is about creating a new type of office environment. The public space is literally a place people can go. It’s about the office being untethered and more immersive.”
What community means
But the concept of the multi-functional, communal office is developing so fast that the very idea of “community” is itself changing too and is now being extended to include much more than the immediate population.
“We’re also seeing community being used to talk about the inclusion of a firm’s clients, partners and suppliers,” says Mr Macgadie. “In this sense, we’re talking about their sector-specific ‘extended community’.
“In 2015, KPMG opened the KPMG Club in Grosvenor Street, London, a free-to-use place to work. Crucially, it’s not just for KPMG staff, but for clients and suppliers too. It’s not a public community space as such, but it’s a destination place for a wider set of people. I think very quickly, the vernacular of ‘the place’ – a space that is a unique place to go to and work at as well as hang out in – will become normal.”
The question is, of course, whether the trend for private companies to mix with the public will be a permanent fixture or a temporary fad. “Oh, I definitely don’t think it’s the latter,” argues Hassell’s Mr Blain. “Brands are competing for talent, so they want to be nearer the people they serve. It’s not local councils that are insisting public space is provided, it’s developers and employers believing it’s the right thing to do, to plant themselves more with their locality – and to make the environment more pleasant.”
While there will always be the need for parts of buildings to remain off-limits, he says, diversity of purpose is now paramount, concluding: “Buildings were already opening up to suit agile working. Incorporating the public is the natural extension of this, to create a truly strong community that is open to all.”
A Net Promoter Score midway between Budweiser and Apple is not a bad result, but it isn’t Apple either. We are delighted to welcome Rob Frank, our new Customer Experience Director to our board and look forward to providing the best customer experience journey for our clients with his help and expertise.
Projects under £2M is a key market for our workplace experts. 60% of our work fell into this category in 2016, we have made this market a key priority for next year and look forward to completing many more projects in 2017.
Our workplace experts are a growing team and we are speedily filling our new HQ, 5 Old Bailey. There’s still enough room to house our workplace experts, but we might have to go agile sooner than thought.
15,600 bacon sandwiches were consumed on our sites this year, however, there has been higher than normal requests for muesli yoghurt bites this year so watch this space for 2017!
Almost 18 years and emerging from our stroppy teenage years – if you haven’t already seen our office, please come for a tour and enjoy a glass of bubbles to celebrate our day of birth.
This year we are half and half in terms of projects carried out for occupiers and real estate investors, a balance we expect to maintain next year.
We clocked up our largest win to date for a £35M HQ building in the Thames Valley, our newly formed major projects team have now truly got going.
This year we have played bridesmaid to 3 major awards and while we patiently caught the bouquet one too many times, we hope to reverse this trend next year.
Huge thank you to all our clients for making 2016 such a great year and we look forward to even better 2017!
If there’s one thing you won’t have failed to have noticed, it’s that offices and office space is evolving. A growing body of evidence now links fantastic work environments to fantastic improvements in productivity too, with all the happiness and wellbeing benefits that come with it.
Quite rightly, there has been significant progress in the planning and design of more agile and flexible working spaces. Firms like Google, with its campus, play-based approach to work, is heralded as having reinvigorated the work environment by shifting the focus on how it gets the best results from its brightest people.
This is a subject that fascinates us at BW: Workplace Experts, so we commissioned Lily Bernheimer and her team at Space Works Consulting to produce a white paper on our behalf to interrogate personality, productivity and work.
The acceptance of the relationship between space and work is to be applauded. But does this mean research into space should stop? We don’t think so. In fact, we believe the default Google approach isn’t always appropriate. Workspace is actually much more complex than being just about the building. It has to be about the relationship it has to the people that occupy it and, as we all know, people are different.
As we enter the so-called fourth industrial revolution, when workplaces need to understand different people’s “personal algorithms”, it’s our view that buildings must meet the different psychological needs of workers within them. In short, offices need to have a two-way relationship, but with lots of different personality types.
Typically, human resources tools, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, have divided workers by different personality traits, the big five being open, conscientious, extrovert, agreeable and neurotic. But it’s well known this doesn’t tend to account for personality development or growth. As such, we believe current personality productivity research is an outdated framework to look at productivity. Under this spotlight, traits such as conscientiousness or agreeableness are still analysed as “inputs”, which are then correlated with outputs like job satisfaction and earnings.
We feel this no longer applies in today’s workplace. That’s why we’ve begun to use a model – the Enneagram – that instead establishes the behaviour and the type of thinking patterns people fall into. The Enneagram Institute is leading this research and has identified nine “types” – the reformer, helper, achiever, individualist, investigator, loyalist, enthusiast, challenger and peacemaker.
So why is this so important. Well, because the Enneagram model identifies unique patterns of traits, motives and values, we believe it has the potential to transform the next phase of workplace science. Knowing that investigators experience the world differently to helpers, for instance, is dramatically important. Investigators seek privacy to recharge and analyse. Open-plan, break-out-based office space would be a completely stressful place for investigators to work in. By comparison, reformers, who are dedicated and committed, and motivated by a set of high internal standards, need a working environment that will inspire them to be more creative and relieve more stress.
We believe the Enneagram model provides new insights and new ways to challenge the accepted view that personality traits are “inputs” in the productivity machine.
What we believe is that office space needs to be far more personal. It needs to support different personality types in a way that fosters their strengths for maximum output. The fourth industrial revolution will require an iterative approach to office design, one that is responsive to workers’ patterns and contributions. The future workspace should at least be sensitive to the complex combination of personality patterns in terms of layout, seating allocation, and the balance of open and sheltered space.
Ultimately perhaps, understanding the future office is about understanding what the purpose of a building really is – an asset to be invested in, to help get the maximum return from the people in it.
We believe office design that is more reflective of its people can have a bigger impact on productivity and performance than other areas human resources directors typically focus on first, such as training and development. To ignore how your office impacts people is to ignore both of most organisations’ biggest assets and cost centres. A building can so easily become an asset that isn’t performing, but if thought about with its occupants’ productivity in mind too, both can be managed so they’re working at the top of their game.
BW: Workplace Experts are committed to delivering defect-free fit-out and refurbishment projects, driven by innovation and characterised by transparency, personality and fit-out expertise.
The office was designed by KKS and managed by BW. BW are evolving into a new breed of Fit Out Contractor that understands the importance of design and sustainability, as much as they appreciate precision joinery and detail finishes.
SKA rating is an environmental assessment method, benchmark and standard for non-domestic Fit Outs, led and owned by RICS. Its overall objective is to help landlords and tenants assess Fit Out projects against a set of sustainability good practice criteria.
Steve Elliott, CEO of BW says:
“We are all delighted to receive this accolade. It is so important that we can actively demonstrate how dedicated we are as a company to achieving the highest of standards for ourselves, as well as our clients. I hope this serves as another example of our capabilities and the committed professional team at BW that set the benchmark a little higher for the whole industry.”
Huge thank you to Natalie Walker, TP Bennett; Alison Grant, MCM; Perry Knight, Turner & Townsend; Guru Thiru, Omobono; Tom Buckley, Core Five LLP; Sarah Bryan, HLW and Rebecca Parish, Man Bites Dog for attending and taking part in another insightful afternoon
Topics for discussion were:
1, What long-term effects, if any, will flexible working and co-working have on the workplace community?
2. Uber have drastically disrupted the temporary labour market and Air BnB have drastically disrupted the short-term letting market, what disruptive technology could change the workplace in a similar way?
3, What methodology do people use to analyse workplace types and do people go beyond the introversion and extroversion dimensions?
A number of interesting points came up during the roundtable; a summary of the most prominent topics are below.
What long-term effects, if any, will flexible working and co-working have on the workplace community?
PROMOTIONS AND PROSPECTS
Proximity to managers is valued by ambitious workers of the millennial generation and some forms of agile working are perceived as a disadvantage as they hinder promotion opportunities. Younger generations want face–to-face time with their managers and team so they can learn consistently and form meaningful relationships.
The assumption that the co-working style suits everyone is presumptuous; it is inevitable that it will be the wrong working scenario for certain personality types and could potentially lead to staff resentment.
An interesting consequence of co-working is the use by larger organisations who rent these spaces as an overspill to their own real estate portfolio. On the plus side, this helps organisations grow quickly, however, it can impact the management of an existing space due to the lack of a robust workplace strategy. Our millennials debated whether this trend would breed a core of people that may never make it to the mothership?
COMMUNICATION AND CONNECTIVITY
The ‘workplace’ is considered by millennials as, not only a place to realise their career ambitions, but also a fertile ground for friendships.
The potential for a lack of connectivity between people, or never meeting your boss is considered a huge disadvantage of shared spaces. Individuals may not develop as quickly as sitting with a team, as this environment typically pushes people in their roles and challenges them.
Consistently working alone can hinder development as it is harder to share information, particularly across departments.
CULTURE NEEDS LEADERSHIP
The term co-working has connotations of a socialist’s dream – equal sense of ownership and parity of environment, however, our millennials highlight the need for strong leadership to create a dynamic and exciting culture.
Brand consistency and understanding different workstyles is even more essential when workers are operating from different locations. Sucessful collaboration is hugely aided by strong leadership, this creates a consistent culture which permeates through the workforce.
“The most successful co-working spaces are often run as communities. They usually have an ‘ex-military sergeant major ‘ type in charge that takes the time to understand what different projects people are working on, uniting the firm in interesting ways.”
Uber have drastically disrupted the temporary labour market and Air BnB have drastically disrupted the short-term letting market, what disruptive technology could change the workplace in a similar way?
“Mobile phones already are [a disruptuive technology] and have been for years, just by their existence and the fact that you could have a conversation with someone and then just pick up your phone and reply to an email. Or you could be in a meeting and someone doesn’t have their phone on silent and it just disrupts everything. Before we had that technology it was quite nice, and now phones are everywhere. If you look at people walking to work, every single person is on their phone, if you look at people in a meeting, the chances are that half are on their phone emailing. How many are actually paying attention and not making mistakes. If we didn’t have mobile phones, I reckon we would be a lot more productive.”
Then after the mobile phone came the Blackberry with emailing! Emails are the most disruptive thing of all, everyone hates emails but we all do it.
These persistent distractions can have a negative impact on our quality of thought.
DIFFERENT SKILLS FOR THE VITUAL WORLD
Video-conferencing didn’t actually take off quite as vehemently as we all thought when it first became widely available. It became apparent that people like ‘real life’ face-to-face interactions. There is potential for this to change when 3D reality becomes more commonplace and we can just send our avatars to meetings.
A huge plus of the communication revolution is the ability to work on a global scale, despite the difficulties with the technology. Being able to collaborate with Australia on a project is amazing. Augmented Reality could be a great enabler to show off products and schemes.
Presenting virtually requires a different set of skills; connecting and building a relationship is harder, and engagement with the presentation itself also needs a different approach.
An idea for the future could be an app where you could hire a temporary desk. You would log on to co-working spaces and see what is available based on your location, similar to Air BnB. That would be especially handy for people coming into London for meetings. Having a place to leave your stuff rather than carrying it around would be useful. Definitely a lot better than sitting in a café or Starbucks searching for a plug.
What methodology do people use to analyse to workplace personality types and do you think they go beyond the extroversion and introversion dimensions?
INVESTING IN UNDERSTANDING
Catering for everyone is the impossible dream. We would love to go into as much detail as possible but you know it is always wasted work because inevitably, we need to look at a smaller number of popular user types as that is the nature of the office.
The way to angle it is that you provide one work space with amenities for everyone from quiet pods to collaborative spaces. In essence a uniform space but with enough of the other spaces so people feel comfortable and are catered for. That way you are looking at the 9 personality types (if you take the Enneagram as a guide) and you have spaces for each personality.
INCLUSIVE DESIGN OR THE LOWEST DENOMINATOR
A problem with analysing workplace user types is you will always get the seniors; you can’t cater for everyone without spending a lot of money on it. You just do it for the board and end up with four user types which you just group together. Basically, whatever data is produced, the C-suite would just say it fits their view and if it doesn’t they will go with what their view is anyway. People would typically say things that senior management would want to hear in terms of behaviour, so there is an element of control over what the people want and what the company want the people to do.
This is why a lot of clients steer away from doing pre-occupation and post-occupation surveys because they don’t want to know the employee requests. Post-occupation especially as they don’t want to know if they have failed because mistakes will be flagged. Pre-occupation is usually done but there is no value without the post-occupation.
DATA AND STATISTICS
Even after an intense round of data gathering and interviews, the research itself needs to be questioned. You can get insight from interviews and e-surveys but you can’t really understand everything, especially if you are working with 1500 plus people.
You can’t speak to every single person. Also, in a world where people are worried about how they are perceived in the office, they won’t give you an honest answer, they will give you a perceived opinion.
The topic for the morning was Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace, and we welcomed three top speakers to deliver insights on the subject: Rosalind Lambert-Porter from Forte Acoustics, Monica Parker from Hatch Analytics, finishing with the preview of our recently commissioned White Paper, delivered by Lily Bernheimer from Space Works.
Rosalind Lambert-Porter’s fascinating presentation covered the difference between noise and sound, and how this effects our concentration in the workplace, explaining how sound helps us focus whereas noise distracts us. Interestingly, a completely silent office means every single noise is heard at a higher level, therefore conversation seems louder and more irritating, resulting in less productivity. By contrast, on an aeroplane there is constant loud background sound yet we can still focus. So in an office context where noise or lack of noise is often cited as a key irritant, Rosalind suggested that open plan offices could benefit from ‘speech privacy,’ quiet zones to improve productivity.
Monica Parker provided an alarming statistic, that 71% of workers are not engaged in the workplace. To emphasise these statistics, she highlighted 4 primary elements: cause, control, contemplation and community, with productivity being driven by cause (94% of people agree that a job with meaning and significance results in engagement). A key element in improving engagement is the management style, with good employers being those willing to relinquish control and give autonomy to their employees.
Monica emphasised taking time and space to rest so we can contemplate and discover new innovative ideas. Unfortunately 71% of employees shy away from this for fear of being seen as ‘slacking off’. Lastly she described loneliness as the new smoking. Stronger relationships within the workplace are a primary contributor to a sense of engagement. Monica concluded the discussion with a piece of advice and a quote from Yoda ‘you must unlearn what you have learned’. We need to create a new relationship with technology and work, and encourage organisations to support their employees.
Environmental psychologist Lily Bernheimer assists organisations in using their spaces better. Presenting the BW commissioned white paper “Personality and the Future of Work”, which proposes the Enneagram as an untapped model for understanding the complexities of personality to support different types of workers. Lily compares the Enneagram to the established Five Factor Model and the popular Myer-Briggs as a better way to offer insights and dynamic growth potential for the ‘whole person’.
And this is important – understanding personality and individualising employee’s workspaces to ensure they are happy can lead to a 12% increase in effectiveness.
As we redefine relationships between individuals, organisations and workspaces to create a more productive environment for our employers, it is critical to consider how we can unlock greater potential to support diverse personality types. The dynamic between people and place is becoming increasingly complex as technology rapidly expands into every aspect of our lives. As we move away from rigid work structures we must also move away from our out-dated perceptions of personality and towards a more individual and innovative approach.
We are delighted to announce that we are expanding our legal client base with an 11,000 sq ft Cat B project for one of the largest law firms in the world, Latham & Watkins. This exciting project follows a 14,000 sq ft refurbishment in an occupied office building with Herbert Smith Freehills and a 70,000 sq ft refurbishment in a fully occupied office building with Watson Farley & Williams.
Sensitivity, high standards of workmanship and exceptional client liaison are imperative in this sector. There are many critical considerations before projects begin, including accurate building surveys, timing and phasing of refurbishment work and storage of materials.
David Greening, Operations Director of Watson Farley & Williams, described BW as “thoughtful, supportive and pragmatic,” three words we take to heart as they encapsulate how much thought we put into thinking about workplace and particular projects.
We look forward to working on more projects in this sector in the future.
The discussions took place in the Stables at The Riding House Cafe just off Oxford Street. Becky Craddock from BW kicked off the afternoon with an introduction to our newly commissioned white paper on ‘the Enneagram and the Evolution of Work’, Leanne Baird followed this with three questions for discussion over each course. Anthony Brown, our token non-millennial, facilitated the discussions.
Topics for discussion were:
1, What long term effects, if any, will flexible working and co-working having on the workplace community?
2, Uber have disrupted the temporary labour market and similarly, Air BnB have disrupted the short-term rental market, what disruptive technology is likely to disrupt the workplace?
3, What methodology do people use to analyse workplace types and do people go beyond the introversion and extroversion dimensions?
A number of interesting points came up during the roundtable; a summary of the most prominent topics will be released shortly.
BW would like to thank our Millennials and look forward to challenging industry conventions in future seminars.
Natalie Walker, TP Bennett; Alison Grant, MCM; Perry Knight, Turner & Townsend; Guru Thiru, Omobono; Tom Buckley, Core Five LLP; Sarah Bryan, HLW and Rebecca Parish, Man Bites Dog.
BW has now officially moved into its new offices at 5 Old Bailey, relocating from Southwark. In line with our key objective to deliver projects to be 100 percent “Defect Free at Practical Completion” or DF@PC by 2018, it was vital that we achieved this for ourselves.
We know only too well that in order to be consistent about standards we need to be fanatical about every single detail, and ensure our entire team shares the obsession for perfection.
From Contractors and Subcontractors, Architects, Designers, Mechanical and Electrical experts and a plethora of furniture and fittings, all formed a critical part of the team to make this happen.
Thank you to everyone who assisted our move and we look forward to welcoming clients and friends to our new office in the near future.
It is for this reason that BW decided to host an inaugural Millennials roundtable.
The discussion took place in the middle of Shoreditch at The Tramshed restaurant, with Anthony Brown the Sales & Marketing Director of BW, posing a different question between every course. Topics for discussion were: How do we know the agile office is working? What doesn’t work about the agile office? Is collaboration all it is cracked up to be?
A number of interesting points came up during the roundtable; a summary of the most prominent topics below.
Getting the measure of work
Measuring the effectiveness of an office in terms of productivity is just as difficult with agile workstyles as any other. The emphasis has therefore moved on from talking about productivity in isolation and expanded to discussions around well-being and happiness.
Culture before design?
Working environments reflect the nature of the company and play an important role in attracting and retaining talent. Millennials want choice in their working environments in terms of how and where they can work.
Continued culture of presenteeism
Managers still want to know where their staff are at all times but this doesn’t fit an agile office. How can employers easily locate the staff member they want whilst accommodating an agile office?
Does the agile office work for every industry?
There is a sense of hierarchy within certain industries which means they prefer the cellular office design rather than the open, agile offices.
Acoustics – a problem of our own making?
The agile office is not an answer to all workplace ills and there are clear although not insurmountable disadvantages to open spaces. Acoustics is often an issue, with unpredictable noise issues only becoming apparent once the space is used. Acoustics solutions can require additional costs and reorganisation.
New Etiquette Required!
Another agile office challenge is rather ironically communication. Even though we may be 10 metres from a fellow employee the temptation to email rather than getting up to have a face to face encounter – even though there is a general consensus that face to face meetings are extremely valuable and necessary. There are examples of companies shutting down email systems once a week to break this habit amongst workers.
An insightful roundtable about what Millennials thought about the legacy they will leave for the following Generation Z in terms of workplace design, culture and practise.
BW would like to thank our Millennials and look forward to challenging industry conventions in future seminars.
Becky Craddock, BW: Workplace Experts; Rachel Edwards, TP Bennett; Alison Grant, MCM; Erik Svensson, Perkins+Will; Perry Knight, Turner & Townsend; Guru Thiru, Omobono; Tom Buckley, Core Five LLP; Sarah Bryan, HLW; Margarita Ianev, BDG and Rebecca Parish, Man Bites Dog.
It isn’t an airy target, but a combination of hundreds of micro-changes happening at BW to adopt and share best practice.
One micro-change we have recently implemented is Defect Free tours. This gives our workplace experts a chance to collaborate and brainstorm ideas which we can use to improve the quality of sites and internal processes. We have had great success with these tours over the last few months and truly believe they will help us achieve our target of 100% DF@PC by 2018.
We’re not quite Defect Free yet, but we’re getting closer!
We had a lot of fun on our last Defect Free tour earlier this month and have already implemented one of the suggestions to improve our site presence. Take a look at some of our photos from the day…
The aim of the Rainbow Laces campaign was to generate awareness and promote diversity and inclusion for the LGBT community within the UK construction sector. We joined the Rainbow Laces initiative to demonstrate to our clients and the wider community that we are serious about tackling homophobia and transphobia in the construction sector. We are great believers in challenging conventions and believe discrimination should have no place in the construction industry.
Anthony Brown, Sales and Marketing Director, BW: Workplace Experts
“In an industry often feted for its machismo and lack of political correctness, we felt that it was important to show our support for an initiative that actively denounces any form of prejudice or discrimination towards the LGBT community.”
Paul Etherington, Senior Project Manager, BW: Workplace Experts
“No one should feel or see discrimination for being themselves in the workplace or the world today, and as such we are happy and proud to support the #RainbowLaces campaign by joining and supporting JJL and Stonewall.”
Julian Eley, Construction Manager, BW: Workplace Experts
“We are strong believers of social equality and will do whatever we can to support such a noble cause.”
More photos can be found on our Twitter page: @wearebwlondon #RainbowLaces
UK commercial developers and fund managers are responding with refurbishment activity growing for the 45th consecutive month. With commercial new construction becoming increasingly expensive, refurbishment offers a quick fix for low vacancy rates in both prime and secondary areas.
BW are at the forefront of the commercial office refurbishment sector, securing new work for organisations like M&G Investments, Aviva plc., LaSalle Investment Management, Hermes Investment Management and TH Real Estate. In the last few months we’ve secured over £8M of new orders. Typical projects comprise the refurbishment of common areas and lifts, refitting vacant floors and more extensive cut and carve projects within the existing fabric of an office building.
Experience tells us that you need to work with the right company to deliver these projects on programme and within fixed budgets. Frequently access is constrained and extra precautions are needed to deal with sensitive situations. Neighbours need to be kept well informed so noisy work or deliveries don’t constrain their businesses. All this is within a day’s work for our workplace experts, just as happy getting a building ready for occupation, as fitting it out for new occupiers.
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you; we have been fortunate to have worked on a number of sizeable office Fit Outs this year and had a lot of fun completing a £26M Fit Out in 31 weeks.
We are delighted to announce that this influx of work has enabled us to launch a brand new Major Projects division at BW. This talented trio is made of three individuals who have many years’ worth of experience in this area:
This newly formed team will oversee all our largest projects and will enable BW to expand and showcase our skills in this market. The BW experts haven’t forgotten that good things are also built with smaller budgets, which is why we are continuing to apply our precision to all our projects.
‘The building’s easy, the architecture’s easy. It’s thinking about how to use the buildings that really is challenging.’ So said Frank Duffy, founder of DEGW and doyenne of office design. And he’s right of course.
New ways of working mean that employees need to be provided with a variety of environments where people can perform different tasks: break out areas for meetings, quiet spaces for high concentration jobs and informal areas designed so that people can bump into each and spark new ideas.
So far so good, but this also brings a new set of issues, and acoustics are high on the list. In 2015 a World Green Building Council (WGBC) report found that background noise can lead to as high as a 66% drop in effectiveness, while a UK study found that noise and lack of privacy was the biggest reason for workplace dissatisfaction.
This was less of problem in the traditional open plan scenario – when pools of typists would sit in virtual silence overlooked by a manager who almost certainly was a disciple of then new-fangled Taylorist management theory – but now work is all about collaboration, connectivity and ad hoc meetings. The fact of the matter is we make more of a racket now then we used to.
The current design preference for more functional internal architecture, with exposed ceilings and greater use of attractive hard finishes such as Corian, tiles and timber floors can accentuate the noise problem. These are often new and experimental finishes so the noise levels cannot be predicted and therefore solved until after the space has been lived in.
There are particular touch points in spaces that we know have the potential to cause a noise distractions, for example the natural juxtaposition of a hard surfaced reception spaces and the client facing business lounge, which will typically comprise softer furnishing. The noise from the a busy lounge area where meetings take place can often bounce into the quieter reception area. Workplace design, smart acoustics and timely building commissioning can minimise noise distraction, but frequently predicting how sounds are going to move through a space seems more of an art than science.
This has led some companies to experiment with masking systems, which create ‘pink/white noise’ designed to distract workers from the general hubbub of office life and increase productivity. We also see occupiers using sound absorbing materials to absorb sound. Acoustic ceiling tiles and baffles are part of a solution.
Surely in the true spirit of agile working we need to ensure that the right type of space is always available to suit the esoteric needs of every individual, whether a worker enjoys the chatter of their team mates, or needs complete silence to complete a report. The other side of this is then to empower and encourage staff to move to the most appropriate space.
It’s a bit like moving into a new house. You might immediately carry out some major alterations but often what makes your new home truly liveable is the hundreds of micro changes you make over the next seven years (the average time that we occupy our houses).
Our workplaces are no different (including the seven year average). What does an occupier do after all the workplace specialists leave? Painstakingly they receive feedback on how their new workplace is being used and, after a time, make some micro changes to make the space more functional.
This isn’t necessarily a failure in planning, design or execution. It’s sometimes because project briefs are based on how people think they are going to use the space, rather than how they do in practice. Pre-occupation surveys can be overly influenced by people depicting ideal scenarios, or biased towards extroverts, missing as much as half a workforce who either don’t have a strong opinion or assume they will continue to work as they have always worked. People often assume that existing patterns will continue into the future. It can be comforting at a time of organisational change to assume life will continue much as it has in recent years.
For occupiers coping with changes in demand levels, disruptive competitors and big swings in the economy, forecasting how they will occupy a workspace over that seven year average is fraught with risk. Within a few years of occupation, occupiers can find themselves occupying a workplace much more densely than expected, or conversely, with reducing staff numbers and the need to sublet space.
Any of these scenarios can lead to the niggling realisation that a workplace needs tweaking, what we call micro changes. It doesn’t always require major interventions to make a workplace more liveable.
10 Most Common Micro Changes –
Improving the efficiency of kitchens (uniting used tea-bags and bins is often an early micro change)
Adding coat hooks to toilet doors
Reorganising part of a floor to incorporate more desks
Balancing lighting and cooling levels
Adding functionality to atriums or terraces
Breaking larger meeting rooms into smaller rooms
Improving acoustics for greater privacy or to improve the buzz factor
Freshening up receptions and client areas
Setting up pilot areas for changing working patterns, and moving people or departments for improved adjacencies
We have completed micro change projects based on every one of these aspects. Our philosophy is to support our clients and consultants on major fit and and refurbishments, but also to be here for the micro changes.
Rethink are a charity that provides support and information to thousands of people affected by mental illness, as well as campaigning to change policy and public attitudes.
The construction industry is particularly affected by mental health issues, one person in our sector commits suicide every other day on average. On a wider level, 1 in 4 people are affected by mental illness, and suicide is still the single biggest cause of death for men under 45.
Sadly, there is still some stigma around this health issue and it is therefore not always openly discussed, meaning many suffer in silence and don’t get the help they need. BW will support Rethink for the coming year, directing all its fundraising and awareness events to this very worthwhile cause. Steve Elliott, CEO of BW comments:
“By working with Rethink we hope to raise the issue of mental illness on the agenda for our industry and hope to help alleviate some of the ignorance and stigma around a problem that is so prolific in the construction industry.”
With Croydon office availability dropping from 1.8 million sq ft two years ago to below 200,000 sq ft today, it’s slim pickings for occupiers wanting decent floor plates.
M&G’s project at 8 Bedford Park is one of the many developments expected to transform the Croydon office market. BW are realising M&G’s vision for the space with the formation of a dramatic new reception building and a full Cat A refurbishment, including a new rooftop plant and services.
With rumours of tenants being signed for the space, BW are on target to handover the new office in early September.
It wasn’t chosen lightly: back-to-back meetings, late nights, the occasional glass of rosé, seminars, walking up and down Cannes all day, this year with the added pressure of ducking the rain. Stamina is needed to survive our industry’s longest week of the year. Each year we all ask ourselves: why do we do it?
We think of it as living in a small community, a village perhaps. If you wish to play an active part in village life you need to participate in the annual village fete, even if that fete sometimes seems to have more in common with a Bacchanalian frenzy than a funfair on the village green!
Reflecting on our week at MIPIM, we definitely needed that stamina but during the long week caught up with some old friends and made some new business contacts that we will develop further. There was a distinct note of caution with lots of discussion about the ‘In-Out referendum’, the London Mayoral election and the US Presidential election; no sense of crisis but some uncertainties that will all be resolved to some degree before we all return to Cannes next March. Aren’t you missing it already?
One hundred targets were launched over 10 stands with some super-quick combinations. In true British style, the weather was treacherous! Luckily the group had their Barbours, Hunters and sloe-gin on hand to shield them from the thunder, lightning, hail and snow.
Amelia, the only female of group, was the clear underdog and became a top shooter by the end of the day. Our famous Steve on the other hand, wasn’t quite so agile with his weapon and had to negotiate a trade for a BB alternative. Top Gun for the day was Guy Bonser, drummer and director of Gleeds.
The overarching feedback from the event was that it was a fun, memorable day for all involved, and a great team bonding experience. We are already looking forward to hosting our second extravaganza in September. If you think you have what it take and are interested in getting involved next time around, please email email@example.com.
Both extreme shooters and complete novices are welcome.
Previously, the surfacing of this well-worn topic would spark a discussion about how other large British cities could take on the capital at its own game. However, this audience reflected a sense of recognition that London is the capital and always will be. So where does this leave the UK’s secondary cities?
The acceptance of London’s dominance is certainly borne out by the numbers. PricewaterhouseCoopers’s forecast for the UK’s economy says: “London and the South East continue to lead the recovery, with average growth of around 3% in 2015-16.” It adds that, “all other UK regions should also register growth” over the period – though only of around 1.6-2.4% per annum.
Yet just when there appears to be new acceptance of London’s pre-eminence, a number of government moves aim to boost the economies of our other large cities. Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘northern powerhouse’ strategy aims to ‘close the gap between north and south’. By improving transport links between Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield he hopes to combine the strengths and activities of these cities to form an economic unit capable of competing at a higher level than the cities would do acting alone.
So is the British attitude to the hierarchy of cities just wrong?
We could take inspiration from the US, where there is less of a sense that all cities are competing with New York City and more of a feeling of a variety of urban centres, each with their own particular character: The movie industry gives Los Angeles its personality, while Silicon Valley is the tech Mecca and Boston is known as an intellectual and medical centre.
Germany exemplifies this too, with economic hotspots distributed around the country: The seat of government is in Berlin, finance is focused within Frankfurt, business in Dusseldorf, Cologne is the media hub and Hamburg’s strength is its major port.
So if (so-called?) secondary cities take the opportunities that they now have to – instead of worrying about competing with London – go their own way, they can carve out strong, individual identities which offer an interesting alternative to London. Not only will this lift the cities themselves, as places to live, work and do business, but it will add immeasurably to the richness of the UK plc offer.
For a full round up of the Mix Inspired event click here
Given Generation’s focus on dedicated, long-term investing and integrated sustainability research it is no surprise that this ethos is reflected in their office environment. They approached BW to expand their elegant Air Street office in London’s West End last year, as they wanted a trusted partner who bought into their vision of embedded sustainability and commitment to responsible citizenship.
Sustainability is key corporate focus for BW which is why we are also proud to announce that we are working on a brand new project with Etsy, Inc. which will be the first in the UK to aim for a LBC certification.
Both project teams are very excited about making their clients’ office visions a reality over the upcoming weeks and making their mark in the industry. We will try and share some office visuals on our company LinkedIn page once both projects are complete.
This is not the first time a recent study has highlighted the different personality types we find in a modern office environment.
Dr Judith Orloff from UCLA has identified the various divisive characters that so many of us have to encounter in the office jungle on a daily basis, with tips on how to best deal with their behaviour.
Intelligent life forms live in groups and part of the reason (beyond the issues of support, survival and emotional fulfilment) we find the behaviour of others so fascinating is because it gives us social context, helping us understand, reason and reconcile our own place in the collective hierarchy.
Progressive businesses understand the value in acknowledging the different personality types that they employ, matching the right people to the right roles and ensuring there is balance amongst the workforce. Getting this right leads to happier and more fulfilled employees who are likely to be more productive and better for the business.
But are the models progressive businesses use reductive?
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is the most widely used method to measure personality in the workplace with over 2.5 million people taking the test annually and 89 of the Fortune 100 companies using the 93-question assessment tool. This method has served many businesses very well for over 70 years, however at BW we are challenging its suitability for the modern world in a White Paper due to be released in March 2016.
We know that personnel and facilities are the top expenses for most companies and they need to complement each other. But as technological innovation transforms our workspaces, hours, and practices at an unprecedented rate of change, the dynamic between people and place is becoming increasingly complex. Myers-Briggs that was developed in 1942 does not factor in this evolution.
As the relationship between individuals, organisations, and workspaces is being redefined, it is critical to consider how we can unlock greater potential for different personality types going forward. BW is proposing a new Enneagram with compelling potential for workplace application. Literally meaning ‘nine types’, it is a typology approach to personality, presenting nine core types or patterns of behaviour and thinking.
We’d love to share this with you; if you would like to be one of the first to receive a copy, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, Anthony Brown joined a panel of fantastic speakers at the first Mix Inspired London event, to discuss London and the many issues that have the potential to impact positively and negatively on the way we work in the capital.
Anthony was joined by Jason Adam, Head of Workplace Design at PwC, Andrew Cooke, COO of London & Partners, Katie Kopek , Director from JLL and Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture.
The opening introduction by Katie Kopec, highlighted the numerous pockets of development through the capital in its widest context from The Silvertown in the east, across the knowledge corridor of the west. Project and schemes popping up due to demand of better facilities for a growing number of people.
The point was raised on more than one occasion that perhaps London is ‘full’ and we should look elsewhere. However the reply was consistent: London is London, and along with all major cities in the world, from New York to Paris, will continue to be the most desirable in the country for outside investment and the place people want to be.
The forward thinking panel members turned their discussion to which key issues therefore need to be addressed in order to ensure that London continues to be a leading global force on every level.
A number of concerns were raised on a macro level that will potentially impact the workforce, for example the health + well being of Londoners, the increasing need for ‘active’ commuting, the threat of terrorism, requirements for more housing, better infrastructures to support growth and the increasing use of technology that will change and possibly eliminate certain job functions.
More immediate thoughts focused on what employees really want from their working environment. Increasing evidence shows that the ‘talent’ covert an impressive and stylish space but beyond aesthetics what does do the ultimate working environments need to offer?
The best spaces are those that accommodate the needs of the organisation as well as the individuals that operate within it, actively encouraging interaction in an organised, as well as a serendipitous manner as and when appropriate.
It also seems much of the desire is in the detail – great coffee, lighting and temperature levels that can be controlled rather then imposed, technology that is seamless and just works – without having to make the dreaded call to IT!
Workers want to feel cared for, inspired and comfortable, and these are just few elements that contribute to that ultimate ‘BUZZ’.
Steve Elliott, Anthony Brown and Ines Lago will be going to MIPIM this March. We are looking forward to meeting existing and potential clients and consultants. Give us a shout if you’d like to meet up.
We’re not diversifying into shipping although it might seem that way. In a year that saw BW working on projects for Maersk Line, one of the world’s biggest shipping companies around, and Watson Farley & Williams, a law firm with one of the largest dedicated maritime legal practices in the world, it seems somehow fitting that we won the new headquarters Fit Out for Associated British Ports. Associated British Ports (ABP) is the UK’s leading port operator with a unique network of 21 ports across England, Scotland and Wales.
ABP is moving from Aldwych House to 25 Bedford Street. The new 11,000 sq ft headquarters will take up the entire second floor.
With the recent announcement that BW have reached the symbolically important £100m turnover milestone, Mix Interiors focuses on the strategy and hard work involved. During the year, BW has rebranded, reorganised and boldly declared its intention to not only reach £200m within five years, but to aim for completing every project Defect Free at Practical Completion, or what Steve and the team call DF@PC.
As Steve makes clear, BW’s aspirations are to be a world-class business, “We need to be fanatical about every single detail, and this will only happen if the entire team shares an obsession for perfection. It must start with a shared respect amongst all parties involved in a project and an understanding that we all have a critical part to play in ensuring that our mutual client ends up with the project they expect.”
We have set out our stall. The objective is to be 100% “Defect Free at Practical Completion” or DF@PC by 2018. There are a number of reasons for this: to reassure our clients that their job will be finished to an exemplary standard; making the client experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible and to reduce waste in terms of material and time, which has a clear impact upon the bottom lines of our business, and those of the consultants and subcontractors we work with.
The construction industry comprises a very broad spectrum of professions, which we often refer to as a supply chain that suggests that we are stronger together and relatively equal. However, anyone who works in our industry knows only too well that there is a distinct hierarchy – this is not a chain of strong links but rather a ‘food chain’ with a dominant force at the top. Perhaps it is time to shift our thinking? From Project Mangers, Contractors and Subcontractors, Architects, Designers, Mechanical and Electrical experts and a plethora of furniture and fittings, we all form a critical part of the team.
In order to be consistent about standards we need to be fanatical about every single detail, and this will only happen if the entire team shares this obsession for perfection. So how do we make that happen?
It must start with a mutual respect amongst all the parties involved in a project, and an understanding that we all have a critical part to play in ensuring that our mutual client ends up with the project they want.
The most contentious issues will always be time, budget and process – we must strive to diminish the conflicting agendas and imbue trust amongst the team. This means paying subcontractors on time so they are motivated to do the job and we always get the ‘A Team’. It means taking time to understand what is important to each specialism and appreciating why the detail matters, as it is here where the most added value is created.
As an industry we should challenge ourselves with other markets where anything less than perfection is unacceptable. The tech market for example: Apple’s products demonstrate that it is not only what the technology can do, it is the way it delivers the experience and how it is presented. Similarly, diners will not return to a Michelin Star restaurant in which their exacting standards are not attained. There is no doubt that top chefs are preoccupied about detail. Consider top athletes – Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, wins by a mere tenth of second because when you are at the top of your game your margin for error decreases.
As an industry we are quite a way off achieving this goal but what we do know is that in a healthier economic marketplace projects do not need to be dictated by price alone.
Clients are more aware than ever that the right working environments can impact upon productivity as well as recruitment and retention of the best employees. They want to go the extra mile to leverage their real estate potential and we as industry must, as a minimum, match this expectation but with the ultimate objective of surpassing it.
[A modified version of this was published by Steve Elliott on LinkedIn today.]
BW has reached £100m turnover, confirming the company as one of the UK’s leading workplace experts and underlining the appetite for greater choice within the UK’s Fit Out and refurbishment market. It’s an important milestone that is underpinned by a profit of £3m and growth in employee numbers to over 120 people.
It is an important milestone, made up of fifty projects ranged in size from £200,000 to over £25m, across of wide variety of sectors including legal, financial services, cosmetics, shipping, consumer goods, oil, charitable, healthcare, technology, media and telecommunications. Reaching £100m is a symbolic moment for BW but the relatively small number of projects still allows us to provide a service that is attentive, friendly and tailored to each individual client.
“It’s been an exciting year at BW and I’d like to thank all of our existing and new clients for their support, ” said Steve Elliott, BW’s CEO. “We’re determined to retain the unique and distinctive personality that keeps clients coming back time after time, while also investing in long term growth through a determined aim to complete all our projects defect free.”
BW recently undertook a research project to find out the current perceptions in the marketplace about our industry, specifically the role of contractors. The results have revealed the critical gaps between clients’ expectations and reality, in terms of the service they receive from the construction industry.
The independent study has highlighted that for over 80 per cent of responders the most important aspects of the construction phase are quality of work, delivering on schedule and communicating honestly.
When potential clients evaluate a company for an appointment, the focus is very much on the people they will be working with, 62 per cent citing a high quality team as vital. It would be a reasonable conclusion that ease of handover and defect resolution would be a natural result of this (64 per cent of responders stating this as critical). However, disturbingly for the industry it is in these areas where the biggest gap between expectation and the performance achieved are present.
On a far more positive note, the study has revealed that ‘price’ was not at the top of every client’s list, with less than a third of responders saying it was the most important factor in a job. This reassuringly suggests that clients are prepared to pay for quality and expertise.
Clients are undoubtedly valuing their working environments and value the impact they can have on productivity, as well as a tool for recruitment and retention of the best employees. This is very positive for our industry as we all strive to produce inspiring places for people to work.
BW is aiming to complete every project defect free at practical completion. We aren’t there yet, but it isn’t just an airy target. It is a combination of hundreds of micro-changes and best practise sharing. It shapes the people that we hire, and the way that we train, develop and reward them. It also forces us to innovate in terms of subcontractor and supplier selection and motivation, and also the way that we work with design teams and occupiers.
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