BCA Conference 2014: Decrypting the Code to Workspace Innovation

Delegates of the BCA's 24th Annual Conference & Exhibition, which took place on Thursday 22nd May at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London, have once again hailed the event an enormous success.

The Conference is seen as an important fixture for operators and suppliers of flexible workspace, along with business owners and associates from the wider business community. The event offers a selection of highly relevant speaker presentations, an 'unconference' element and the opportunity to connect with industry professionals. As such it has become a vital opportunity for delegates to broaden their perspective through the introduction of fresh ideas, knowledge sharing and new trends.

'We don't know what our customers want'

Keynote speaker Michael Levie, COO of CitizenM Hotels, opened proceedings with a riveting presentation in which he walked delegates through the story of CitizenM Hotels, and how the brand delivers a memorable experience - and ensures return guests - by focusing on some of the simplest details that are often so easily overlooked.

According to Levie, customer service shouldn't be simply delivered. It should be 'human', and Levie explained how CitizenM Hotels achieves this by inverting traditional company hierarchies and empowering staff to take responsibility.

He assured Conference that business owners and board members who sit at the top of a traditional hierarchy do not know what their customers want. Instead, it is the front line employees who should be empowered to take decisions, offer ideas and help shape the way the company operates.

As head of an organisation, when was the last time you sat on reception, took customer service calls or donned the company uniform? As Levie explained, this is where some of the most important ideas and service methods originate, along with an open-door mentality. 'Keep asking questions,' he said. 'Don't assume you already know the answer.'

Business centres are 'vital to the economy'

Justin Urquhart-Stewart, director and co-founder of Seven Investment Management, kept the momentum running high as he introduced what was to be a thoroughly engaging insight into the state of the UK and global economy.

His presentation 'From Devastation to Innovation' 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, Urquhart-Stewart revealed the positive effects of a recovering economy - namely the United States' impressive shrinking deficit, an increase in business confidence, Eurozone reform, and signs that even the 'darkest corners' are returning to growth.

Most importantly, last year the UK managed - despite a 'damaged' (but not doomed) economy, to generate the highest number of startup businesses ever, and Urquhart-Stewart believes that this is largely thanks to the invaluable support provided by the flexible workspace industry.

Big Conversation

The morning concluded with The BIG Conversation, an 'unconference' element which brought industry experts and delegates together to converse on workspace topics. Subjects included how community engagement can generate profit; whether or not online booking systems can transform business; and where the relatively low income of shared workspace and hot-desking fits into a profitable business centre environment.

Speakers moved into the audience to deliberate each topic in separate group

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