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13 November 2019
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An adventure in space and time

A large organisation will often debate its requirements for its corporate office space, writes Roger Amos. 

Roger Amos
Roger Amos is head of property and HR shared services at the London Borough of Ealing

9 April 2015 

A large organisation will often debate its requirements for its corporate office space. 

In Ealing all our workspace is open-plan with banks of desks and, for most, a standard IT platform accessed online through ‘thin client’ devices. There are also plenty of meeting rooms scattered around. 

These days being open-plan is not the phenomenon it was a decade ago. I recently read a blog by Richard Branson, who had looked around Facebook’s HQ. Branson said founder Mark Zuckerberg had his desk in the middle of the office, among his team. The theory is that if you want to know what your team is thinking it makes sense to be among them.

With every open-plan or flexible working environment there’s a ‘clear desk’ policy lurking in the shadows, demanding a certain level of tidiness. I wonder how the three visionaries Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Mark Twain would have got on because apparently they all kept messy workspaces. 

The home-working debate has never really been properly conquered either and, while ICT development has made that a far greater possibility these days, it remains a hot topic.


Like most local authorities, we have to consider what customer-facing services are to be run from our HQ and that has to be factored in to the location. As more of our services go online it is important that as property and FM professionals we consider the impact of this on office and customer-facing space needs.

I’ve written before about how FM meets ICT and can’t emphasise enough the importance of aligning the two strategies. Wireless hotspots, thin client access and ‘follow me’ printers are now commonplace. We carry smartphones these days, so do we really need desk phones? 

ICT can also be a great tool to gauge actual occupancy levels trends and this data is useful when defining actual, as opposed to the perceived. Maximising the available occupancy is a two-way street; it relies on its users making the most of it. 

Roger Amos is head of property and HR shared services at Ealing Council