Biggest move ever gathers pace

White City will be emptied and sublet White City will be emptied and sublet

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Moving is up there with divorce, debt and Saturdays in Ikea as the most stressful things life can throw at us. It's a wonder, then, that the BBC's London offices aren't awash with snivelling wrecks.

The Corporation has embarked on what is thought to be its biggest move ever, as it presses ahead with plans to vacate Television Centre and White City by the end of March.

Around 3500 people are switching from W12 - mainly from Television Centre - to W1 and the shiny New Broadcasting House. Around half of them have made the move already. And 50-odd years of broadcast and production technology - including satellite uplinks, central control area and the telephone exchange - also have to be removed. Around 50 technology staff will remain at TVC after March to run the CCA until its removal.

'We need to get on and redevelop TVC in partnership with its new owners so that Worldwide and S&PP can move in in 2015,' says Paul Greeves, director of Workplace and Safety.

The shift of another 2800 staff around the W12 campus - 500 of them moving within the same building - is now also gathering pace.

The BBC is seizing the opportunity to clear White City, which it is looking to sublet, although no firm tenants have yet been identified. Red Bee has moved many of its people from the Broadcast Centre to its own base, freeing up space. 'It's allowed us to consolidate and get out of one of our older, more costly, less collaborative buildings,' adds Greeves.

There is also an intention to move The One Show next autumn from its Broadcast Centre studios to NBH.

BBC People and the Academy crossed the concourse earlier this month, with Legal, Editorial Policy and Public Affairs among those set to follow in the coming months.

White City canteen

They leave behind the popular White City canteen which currently serves around two thirds of the meals sold on the site.

'We are looking at how we can enhance catering in the Media Centre and Broadcast Centre so that we can close the White City canteen,' explains Greeves. 'We are very conscious that we need to have a good morning, lunchtime and evening food offering.'

In addition, there are plans to introduce a trolley service - which has been successfully trialled at NBH - at the Media and Broadcast Centres, as well as more coffee carts and small food outlets.

Regarding the White City gym, Greeves says: 'We are exploring an alternative, better location.'

Parking remains a thorny issue. 'We need to finalise the requirement for operational parking in the remaining car parks under MC and BC, and then look at the options for providing staff parking once that is done,' says Greeves. 'We hope to make an announcement in the near future.'

Get away from our desks

The other part of the story is the move towards a new way of working that is more collaborative, flexible and conducive to creativity. So with space at a premium - and 15 people vying for every 12 desks - was this born out of necessity?

Partly, admits Greeves, who says that better utilisation of buildings will free up money for content. But he also believes a more modern approach can bring positive benefits for staff, who have greater choice over where and when they work.

'We need to get away from the concept of desk and space ownership and adopt a more sharing approach,' he states, 'to allow others to use the space, to leave it as you find it, to welcome people into your area and be ready to go and work in different places and in different ways as the need fits.'

He accepts that creatures of habit will sit at the same desk every day, others will choose different desks within the same area, while the more adventurous will branch out further. A large collaborative zone on the ground floor of the Broadcast Centre will offer further flexibility with hot desks, chairs and tables, meeting pods and meeting rooms.

Home working, which might help avert any scramble for desks, will be encouraged 'when it suits people and their teams or functions', adds Greeves. 'There's a good proportion of people who could work from home occasionally.'

It's about achieving the right mix, he insists, 'the right mix of desks to people, laptops to desktops, fixed telephones to mobiles'.

All out of W12

Just don't get too settled. There will be further upheaval in 2015 when Worldwide moves from the Media Centre to Television Centre. The BBC will then empty the Media Centre, the perimeter buildings and, finally, the Broadcast Centre.

'We will need to move another 1000 people out of W12,' says Greeves. 'What we do with them is a decision that still has to be made. Salford and Birmingham have capacity, we could look at sites like Pacific Quay as well as buildings closer to London, like Elstree and Caversham. There are a range of options.'

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