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The road ahead 2024: Challenges and opportunities for FM


Change always brings challenges and opportunities and 2024 will definitely provide lots of both in the built environment sector. To maximise on these opportunities, we need to look to the next generation of designers, managers, and occupiers to ensure that the progress taking place across the office sector has impact not only in 2024, but in the years to come.

The British Council for Offices (BCO) and its NextGen committees will be looking at the key themes affecting the industry in the year ahead. Here are some of the trends we think are likely to drive change in 2024.

Even before anyone had heard of Covid, the office needed to be an attractive place to work. In fact, many top companies used their offices as talent magnets, embedding their brand and ID. Post-pandemic this has shifted further so that the ‘place’ provided is as important as the ‘space’ with amenity, social and cultural benefits considered as important as efficiency and flexibility. It’s all about connection and now workplace design has amped this up further to work with behaviour change experts to tackle lower densities and bring more people back into the workplace.

Since the BCO released a briefing note on AI in 2022, it has become common conversation topic, and something that is met with more questions than answers. Whilst each organisation will have their own approach to using this technology, 2024 will be the year we move beyond the eye-catching image generating forms of AI to grasping the ways it can helps us enhance productivity; whether that’s in designing an office layout, ordering supplies, or optimising lift patterns in high rise buildings and enhancing occupier experience. There is a lot of potential that can improve efficiencies at all levels of building design and management.

We are now five years on from the climate protests that saw much of the world wake up and acknowledge the climate emergency we are facing. Since then, the sector has evolved rapidly from conversation to action, with carbon emissions budgets for buildings being given as much attention as the cost plans.

The BCO’s Delivering Net Zero Carbon in the Workplace report, highlights the positive changes already taking place across the office sector. With this year’s release of the UK’s new Net Zero Carbon Building Standard setting a new benchline and further improving carbon literacy, it does also present a risk of the sector getting carbon tunnel vision and neglecting other key sustainability objectives such as biodiversity and social value, which are equally important. I think this will become significantly more prevalent over the next 12 months so that social value is no longer just community engagement during construction but rather is embedded into long-term social impact strategies.

With the pipeline of new office space being impacted by the Covid hangover, high interest rates, and market uncertainty we may see a shortage of Grade A office space which meets the needs of modern companies. One of the great opportunities for the year, which I am most excited about, is the repurposing, reusing, and reimagining of outdated building stock. This holds real potential for investment as it has shorter design and construction programmes than large new build projects and can simultaneously stimulate the sector and support the wider retrofit agenda.

About Sarah OBeirne

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