Mark Kowal

Mark Kowal

Partner, Sheppard Robson 

BCO President and Conference Chair

The recent disruption to how we live and work has accelerated a move to alternative ways of thinking about our workplace.  We now have an unprecedented opportunity to readdress the role of the office in our lives, and shape how buildings can encourage innovative and fresh thinking, while introducing greener solutions.

The issues of climate change and sustainability are becoming more important than ever, leading to increased scrutiny of the office’s environmental impact. As we look to the future, the entire sector has an important role to play in providing buildings and working environments that are better for our planet.

Our host city: Manchester

Manchester is a city that has helped shape the world. Whether it is in industry, science or culture, this vibrant city has always pioneered new ways of working and thinking and has, in doing so, transformed itself into a modern cosmopolitan powerhouse.

Recast for the 21st century as the original modern city, Greater Manchester has experienced a contemporary resurgence. This was marked culturally by the acclaimed reopening of the Whitworth art gallery, international arts centre HOME, and the world-leading Manchester International Festival. This resurgence also saw a property and investment boom that has outpaced the rest of the country, and through major changes to its governance and infrastructure Manchester has been positioned as the central focus of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda.

Young people are flocking here to take advantage of its thriving economy, unrivalled student experience and smart jobs in the science, creative and digital sectors. Greater Manchester is truly worthy of its accolades, as being the UK’s most competitive, economically productive, liveable and vibrant region.

As host city for the 2022 BCO Annual Conference, where better to engage with and debate the future attributes of the office and to grasp this opportunity to re-evaluate and reset?

What to expect?

To slot into delegates’ busy working lives, the mid-week conference will run from Tuesday 14th to Thursday 16th June.

  • The conference begins with the BCO Drinks Reception on the Tuesday evening at Manchester Cathedral, one of the city’s event spaces of choice to host rock concerts, fashion shows, brand launches, intimate fine-dining and grand gala dinners over the years.
  • The Conference Plenary Sessions will take place at Manchester Central, where we will engage with keynote speakers covering development, occupation, economics, politics and futurists.
  • Building Tours will provide an opportunity to see the best in Manchester and gain a glimpse of what is to come.
  • The Conference Seminars will provide an alternative option to the building tours, in which we will explore key and emerging topics and trends that influence office design and product.
  • The BCO NextGen events programme for young professionals within the sector will provide activities that sit alongside the main itinerary, to add value to the conference experience and encourage greater participation from this important community within the BCO.
  • The BCO Cycle Challenge will set off from London, arriving in Manchester 3 days later in time for the drinks reception.The event will raise funds for CALM and SHOUT 85258, our partner charities for the conference.
  • The BCO Golf Cup will take place at The Mere, a championship course set in Cheshire parkland to the south west of Manchester city centre.
  • The Conference Party will take place on the Wednesday evening at Hatch, close to the city centre and conference hotels.Here, we will celebrate within a street environment, enjoying hospitality through pop-ups as well as entertainment into the night.

Manchester, its culture, and all it has to offer will provide the perfect setting for the office community to network, engage with and explore the opportunity we all hold to influence the workplaces of the future.  We hope to deliver a truly diverse and inclusive event that offers something for everyone.

I look forward to welcoming you all there on 14th June 2022.