There was a common theme running throughout the BCA's 24th Annual Conference & Exhibition on Thursday 22nd May: confidence.
Justin Urquhart-Stewart - Director of 7IM and BCA Conference speaker - made it clear that things are looking up in a big way. Here, he talks to the BCA shortly after his presentation at BCA Conference 2014:
We're all aware of the official indicators informing us that UK business confidence is rising. Indeed, the ICAEW's latest Business Confidence Monitor shows that confidence is at a "record high". But how do those figures translate to everyday business?
The lively atmosphere and networking hubbub that emanated from the BCA exhibition hall told its own story, while the engaging words of conference speakers confirmed what we already know. Business confidence is rising, and there are exciting times ahead.
"Vital to the economy"
During his Conference presentation, 'From Devastation to Innovation', Justin Urquhart-Stewart explored the "huge imbalances" that exist today, including high consumer debt and the difficulty of reducing reliability on so-called "stimulants" like quantitative easing.
Yet, far from dampening the mood, Justin revealed the positive effects of a recovering economy. He explained that with record numbers of new businesses setting up in the UK, which need access to flexible workspace to stabilise and grow, the business centre industry is "vital to the UK economy".
"Think of how many jobs business centres have created, how many small businesses they have helped to grow," he said. "Our economy could not do it without the flexible workspace industry."
"Something has changed" he said, referring to positive signs such as a rise in private consumption and an uplift in business confidence.
He cited the United States' shrinking deficit, Eurozone reform, and signs that even the "darkest corners" are returning to growth.
He believes that greater confidence can continue to rebuild the economy and lead to even greater things.
"One word runs your life, your business: confidence," he said. "Without that, nothing happens."
Later, during The Big Conversation, the BCA's unconference, there was an overwhelming atmosphere of positivity as delegates discussed challenges and opportunities at length and sought to identify new ideas and perspectives.
And during the BCA's Evening Reception, TV and radio presenter Paddy O'Connell, after-dinner speaker, asked for a show of hands to demonstrate who was experiencing a high level of confidence. Virtually every delegate in the room raised a hand.
"This is an extraordinarily exciting time for our industry," said Jennifer Brooke, Executive Director of the Business Centre Association.
"During the 15 years I have spent at the BCA, I find it enormously encouraging how far we have come - not just as a business sector, but as a workplace movement."
She explained that the BCA now represents 300 business centre owners across 1200 operating environments.
"Without access to flexible workspace, many fledgling firms that have gone on to become disruptive forces on the national and global stage would not have made it past their first year," she said. "The industry is now recognised globally as a fundamental element in the growth and success rate of startups and SMEs."
"Now, as always, we must continue to move and adapt. We must ensure we are constantly at the forefront of the needs of today's - and tomorrow's - small and medium-sized businesses."
Dr Christopher Pieroni, Operations Director, Workspace and