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Address to BCO Members

31 Mar 2020

This year marks the BCO’s thirtieth anniversary. It is not quite going as we planned. Covid-19 has, of course, turned the world upside down.

This virus is undoubtedly a great challenge to our society, illustrated by restrictions which would have looked unimaginable little more than a week ago. And yet, it is one which we will conquer, thanks principally to the extraordinary commitment of those directly fighting its threat. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those working tirelessly in hospitals, supermarkets, the civil service, charities and elsewhere on the front line.

Almost instantly, millions of normally office-based workers are now at home. Questions are already being asked about the impact of this dramatic change on the future of the office. None of us, of course, can predict what the new ‘normal’ might look like once the crisis is over, but my guess is that the office has much life in it yet. People are frustrated. They already miss the collaboration and ‘buzz’ of the workplace. We are social beings. We work better together. Working from home has many benefits, but do most of us want to be home-based all the time?

When we get back to our workplaces, there will perhaps be a greater appreciation of the vital role played by the country’s offices in our lives and as the new engines of the economy. In the short-term, we must carry on. I am heartened when I speak to members, generally through video technology most of us previously used little, and hear their determination to keep on going. Like them, and like you, the BCO is committed to being open for business.

Events are a major component of the BCO’s offer. A vast amount of work has been going on behind the scenes in recent days to reschedule that programme to the Autumn and 2021. I am extremely grateful to my team, SAS Event Management, Create Events and the many others who have been involved in this collective effort. The Annual Conference scheduled for this June will now take place next Spring, and the new dates will be published later this week. Our Regional Awards lunches and dinners have all been postponed to this September and October and, again, the new dates will be published this week.

In the meantime, we are committed to keeping our members as connected to the BCO as we possibly can. In this week’s newsletter we will set out details of a new webinar series as a substitute for our immediate events schedule. We are starting new conversations with #BCOvoices, a LinkedIn blog series that will feature the best and the brightest of the BCO. The first two entries can also be found in the newsletter. Most importantly, the BCO will continue to champion the workplace and the work of you, our members, in the face of new questions about our industry.

At times of crisis, we must also look beyond our own horizons. Our members span communities across this country. We must consider how our industry plays its part during this crisis. Therefore, the BCO seeks to offer a co-ordinated response from our industry to government, outlining how we can help.

First, we need your ideas. Can our space be offered to the NHS, for storage or perhaps even for makeshift hospitals? Can our expertise in planning and construction aid this national effort? How can staff do their bit? Please do get in touch with your thoughts, or simply to register your interest. Members may also be interested in the National Emergencies Trust, a charity which has launched a new appeal to help fund our nation’s response to Covid-19.

We must all hope that this global emergency will pass as soon as possible. Life will undoubtedly be different in unexpected ways, but I suspect that the vast majority of us will relish returning to the social contact where the office so often provides an anchor. Until then, our industry must keep on going, keep on doing its bit, ready for the brighter days ahead.

My sincere thanks, as always, to you for your continued support for the BCO and our work, and my very best wishes to you and your families at this extraordinarily challenging time for us all.

With kind regards

Richard Kauntze

Chief Executive

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