Research summary

Internal research

The review of current accommodation at the University has given the Place work stream the chance to examine previously completed office refurbishments and fit-outs in considerable depth, including detailed interviews and questionnaires, to evaluate how that space works for the users. This involved carrying out occupancy surveys of staff workplaces; the active facilities management of space is a key theme which has become a critical factor for successful delivery of shared workspaces.

More recently, a series of information sessions across the University have helped to gather comments and further insight from staff and senior managers on the blueprint spatial models of which the Future Workplaces group have developed. As the Future Workplaces project draws to a close at the end of March, it will be producing a detailed Workspace Toolkit - which will incorporate our own Space Policy, office guidelines, and key design features, taking into consideration all the feedback from staff on the workplace models - to support the future development of ways of working here.

External research

The group has also taken the opportunity to examine spaces occupied by other Universities, such as Newcastle and other large cross-sector organisations, including the Met Office, National Grid and Vodafone. Desktop studies have also been conducted for other institutions, such as Aalto University, Helsinki University, Warwick Research Exchange, Google, Dell and the BBC.

This external research has provided some invaluable insights into the way different organisations allocate, design, maintain and manage their spaces and how they deal with staff based on one or more site, working remotely and from home. Whilst these models may not be ones we would wish to fully adopt here, there are elements of such policies which are useful to consider for inclusion in a new space policy for the University.

Key challenges

Key challenges at Exeter include the quality and ownership of space, creating an effective space policy, current building infrastructure and utilisation, and addressing opportunities for remote working. Notably, in many parts of the University, there are areas where the accommodation offers poor quality of space. Key to address this issue will be to look at different ways of using space, which responds to the changing ways in which we work and creates more opportunities for staff to get together.

The Place work stream recognises that there is not one solution for all challenges and seeks to work with staff on future projects to establish how some of the aims of Future Workplaces can be achieved, whilst trying to improve space efficiency and collaborative working practices.

Such cultural change can only be addressed with the adoption of a Space Policy, which sets out the terms under which space can be provided. The work stream has started to develop a toolkit which can be used to advise Colleges and Professional Services as to the types of spaces that should be provided for staff.