A recent report by the British Council for Offices (BCO), following a survey of over 2,000 of property industry clients concluded: “the property industry is lagging well behind other industries in the customer service revolution”. The report went on to say, “occupiers would like … a far more sophisticated approach…to see attention switch from a one-dimensional focus on [contractual] capital value and/or income appreciation to finding the ‘performance sweet spot’ – the point at which the owner, manager and occupier are aligned ...and where potentially greater value can be realised.
Another more recent study by property specialists Cushman and Wakefield went further to suggest that traditional development of commercial property needs to up its game with co-working disruptors like WeWork providing the incentive for change. The office of the future is not a Taylorist factory full of desks; it is a flexible space that drives interaction, innovation, productivity and social bonds. In a world of shortening leases, the intangible and non-contractual bonds of community, differentiated proposition, brand and excitement are what will keep tenants coming back to buildings. It seems consumers are beginning to call the shots and they want to be involved, appreciated, entertained. Long lease transactional approaches are dying fast. The question is, how can we guarantee that users will love our buildings and keep coming back? How can we design them in the knowledge that we know they will love them once they are built? How do developers meet the expectations of modern tenants with rapidly changing business models over the life of the property?
To introduce a more customer centric design approach to the design and procurement of property, Ollio has introduced a new user centric property procurement methodology which we call Agile in Buildings. The methodology is taken from the digital technology sector's already well understood Advanced Project Management (APM) agile methods. APM methods have been around for half a century in most product design sectors, just not in property. To test if our new methodology works in the design of property we undertook two case studies with real project clients and their users. Both were about to embark on a property procurement process. The new methodology gathers deep dive data on how all users across their respective organisations use their existing buildings, unearthing what works thematically and what does not work, who the user organisation personas are, where and what they want the new building to achieve for them as users. The Agile Methods replacement to standard RIBA 2013 Stage 0 to 2 and PRiNCE 2 linear project management processes meaningfully engages all stakeholders in the occupant organisation from top to bottom to provide their input.
The process depends on co-design teams of users and designers being able work together to arrive at the new buildings design then to generate Minimum Viable Prototype (MVP) of it. The MVPs usually take the form of immersive visualisations, allowing users to transport themselves into the new building, to imagine what it will be like, and to test in use product scenarios for what