The challenge of time and space – Weeknote #268 – 19th April 2024

I was working on an invitation to tender this week. This took up most of my time with researching, reading, writing, reviewing, sharing, and then going back again…

Interesting article from Wonkhe this week on what keeps your estates manager awake at night?

Estates Directors, by and large, are significant net spenders of university income. While we may also run aspects of our institution’s income-generating commercial services – conferencing and retail for instance – and we know our university built environment can be key in attracting research income, staff and students too, on the whole we sit on the expenditure side of the balance sheet, with buildings second only to people in terms of operating costs.

It noted the challenge that costs are rising and budgets are being cut, and the challenges that this brings to the Estates team.

The issue of both students and staff using the campus differently now, post covid, and their hybrid use of space for studying and working. We know that space designed for the way we would use those spaces pre-covid, aren’t necessarily now the kinds of spaces that we need post-covid. Easy to say, actually quite challenging to design spaces that meet these new needs. What are those new kinds of spaces and how would we know?

The other challenge isn’t just space, but also time. You can already see that more people are coming into the office for two or three days a week, and those days are usually in the middle of the week. The challenge that anyone has in managing space is how do you provide the capacity needed for two or three days, knowing that for the rest of the week it will be underutilised. How do you incentivise people to spread their in-person working (and studying) patterns across the week, to ensure space is being used efficiently.

Next week I am presenting at our directorate away day in Bristol on my work. I produced a presentation, which for me has a fair few words on it. I also developed the visions exercise I ran recently with our senior group; I turned the visions into handouts and created an activity that can be used with them.

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