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BCA Members Hit Back as BBC Comes Under Fire for Meeting Room Rentals

BCA Members Hit Back as BBC Comes Under Fire for Meeting Room Rentals

meetingrooms.com (Adam House, London)Ahead of the BCA's 25th Anniversary Conference later this month, we have been hearing from some of our industry's earliest adopters, many of whom started business centres in the 1980s and 1990s.

In case you are wondering what this has to do with the BBC's meeting room arrangements, it comes down to awareness of flexible workspace and an understanding of what our industry does.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, awareness of flexible workspace and business centres was extremely low. Serviced offices were prized by those that used them, for the same reason they are now - cost efficiency, flexibility, and value-added services.

But early adopters found that their biggest challenge lay in 'getting found', because potential clients simply did not know the product existed.

Now, businesses are much more educated about flexible workspace. It has become its own industry, as opposed to a niche corner of Commercial Property. It has even become a sizeable competitor for conventional lease operators.

However, it is clear that our work is not yet done. While the majority of the business world may be tuned-in to the advantages of flexible on-demand workspace, it seems the general public is less convinced of the benefits.

Wasting or saving "taxpayers' money"?

In this week's Property Week, Caleb Parker of meetingrooms.com, a BCA Member, spoke out against the criticism directed towards the BBC for having spent £50,000 of "taxpayers' money" on hiring meeting and conference space in nearby buildings, as opposed to using those within its own property.

One such headline reads: "BBC forks out £50,000 on meeting rooms across the street from its brand new £1billion HQ...which bosses say lacks space" (Daily Mail, 26th April 2015)

The problem, it appears, is that the BBC's new Broadcasting House occasionally lacks ample space for meetings, and the Corporation is forced to hire external space at an extra cost.

"Would the critics prefer the BBC to spend millions on a building full of meeting rooms that lie empty for large portions of the week?" asks Caleb.

"It is a dilemma facing businesses everywhere. How can you strike a balance between providing essential meeting space for your employees whenever they need it, while ensuring you're not paying a premium for empty or rarely used space?"

Commenting on the bigger picture, Caleb added: "Just as our bedrooms and cars have become products and services that people are willing to pay for through Airbnb and Uber respectively, we will start to see companies with meeting space capacity rent it out to businesses with unmet demand, through online marketplaces."

A trend to be celebrated

meetingrooms.com, which recently integrated with Hubcreate, a BCA Member, is expanding its own online real-time marketplace for on-demand workspace that is growing by the day.

As we know, this trend is indeed rising, and is giving rise to rapid growth of the wider flexible workspace industry. Ironically, this in itself is contributing enormously to the economy - and the taxpayer - through the creation of jobs. As the BCA revealed, in 2014 the flexible workspace industry alone contributed approximately £2billion to the UK economy.

Caleb added: "Enlightened companies, like the BBC, are leading the way in embracing the use of off-site meeting spaces to better control supply and demand."

"It's an exciting trend to be celebrated, not castigated."

Now operators up and down the country must continue the good work started in the early days of flexible workspace. Ti


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