Nestled amongst the Alps with views of Lake Geneva and Jet D'Eau, over 350 delegates gathered to "rethink the future". Topics included the use and flexibility of space, how commercial building design and development is set to change as a result of technological advances, the challenges of funding and a battle of the green ratings.

Delegates visited iconic local landmarks such as the United Nations, Rolex Learning Centre and CERN the European organisation for nuclear research and home to the large Hadron Collider.

Our conference started with an intriguing session on The New World Order - Politics, Economics in an Age of Change. Charles Spierer, president of CBRE Switzerland, demonstrated how Switzerland, and in particular Geneva, has bucked the trend of negative growth. He was followed by David Smith, economics editor for the Sunday Times, who provided his views on prospects in an age of instability and the Rt Hon Lord Howard of Lympne QC closed the session focussing on key political risks that could affect the economy.

Dr Chris Luebkeman, director of global foresight & innovation, Ove Arup & Partners, then lifted spirits further with a presentation, What Will Normal Be? A very thought provoking session that reinforced the need for us all to step back and think about the world we live in and how "normal" means different things to different people, according to age, nationality, culture and values. A simple reminder that today's 15 year olds, who consider mobile technology as normal, will be industry leaders in 2030. They might not care so much about what the buildings look like from the outside just whether they can get wi-fi or superfast broadband and if there is a variety of places for them to work and interact. Is it time for the industry to respond to the changing needs of a generation of "clickizens"?

On the second day our final plenary focussed on communication technology with speakers including David Rowan, editor of Wired UK; Thomas Power, Ecademy; Nigel Miller, Cordless Consultants and Godfrey Nunes, BT Group Strategy & Portfolio. We were informed that smart phones and tablets now outsell desktop computers and we currently create the same amount of information, in two days, than we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003.

With the world moving at an ever faster pace, can the commercial property sector suggest a workplace model that will evolve at a similar rate? Throughout the three day conference information technology, social media and flexible space were the hot topics. Delegates were encouraged to pick up the issues raised throughout and see how this can move our thinking forward.

Presentations from the plenary sessions and research seminars are available to view on the BCO Research Portal.

Committed to Sustainable Events
The BCO is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of our events. In 2011 the BCO Annual Conference took the following actions.

  • 137 tonnes of CO2 emissions were offset with projects from The CarbonNeutral Company.

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