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The age of thin buildings approaches

18 November 2011

Office buildings will get smaller over the next decade because of an increasing use of cloud computing, delegates to a London conference were told.

Without the need to house large data servers, buildings can do away with huge amounts of buildings services systems needed to maintain climate conditions for the servers.

We’re entering the age of the “thin building”, Phillip Ross, chief executive of consultancy Unwork, told delegates to the conference held at the British Library.

But the office can’t be written off, or downsized, totally, he said. A recent study of large organisations by Unwork showed 63 per cent of employees still commute to work four to five days a week.
Only 1.6 per cent of employees in the study work mostly from home and only 12 per cent said they want to work from home.
The ideal commute is 10 to 15 minutes, meaning there is a case for smaller offices closer to where employees live, said Ross. This could lead to a company having a series of small offices in local communities around a city centre rather than travelling into the city proper.

However, even now, many businesses are not taking advantage of the different public transportation methods to enable more efficient commutes, said Norman Baker, transport secretary.

The conference explored what a city and its offices would look like in the future, including public transportation alternatives (see FM World’s full conference report).

Baker threw down a gauntlet, daring people to change their travel and work patterns.

London businesses, in particular because of next summer’s Olympics, must plan ahead to make the best use of all types of city transport during the expected busy period, said Baker. That means making the best use of employees’ time at work, including options such as staggered working hours and more home-working.

Baker also has announced the government is backing a flexible working initiative called “Anywhere Working” which aims to help businesses adopt flexible working practices.

Large organisations including Microsoft, Vodafone and Business in the Community are offering advice on travel alternatives and are providing online training in technologies that enable flexible working, such as video conferencing and cloud document sharing.

Companies will also be able to take part in trials of technology, the government said.

“Transport is the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions,” said Baker. “Something’s got to give. The situation is becoming unsustainable both environmentally and economically.”

The government will also launch an Anywhere Working online portal in January. It will offer advice and case studies of companies that have cut travel costs and reduced their carbon footprints by adopting flexible working practices.

Other news for Friday, 18 November 2011

The age of thin buildings approaches

EIC wins contract with Sikh temple

Sheffield Hallam opts for new building

OCS wins Luton Airport contract

Blog: Following the leader

Contracts round-up