For more than a decade, the property industry has been evolving from simply being recognised as places to do work into spaces that facilitate and nurture productivity, connectivity and wellbeing. And we are now seeing property playing its part in people strategies for many employers.
The Government Property Agency (GPA) was set up in 2018 to deliver the government’s property strategy. Our mission is to design, create, manage and evolve great places to work for civil servants, while providing strategic property support to the government.
We manage more than 850,000 sq m of government offices efficiently, safely and sustainably. To do this, we must use our scale and commercial expertise, together with our know-how of property, workplace design, health and safety, technology and sustainability.
We also play a crucial role in delivering the property elements of the government’s levelling-up agenda, Net Zero initiative and the Civil Service transformation. We will move more than 22,000 civil servants out of London in the next nine years, and help guide both the private and public sectors in workplace design and sustainability.
All in all, we have a massive job and while the ‘how’ comes from property, it’s the ‘who’ – our people – that will determine our success.
We know people are inspired and motivated by different environments and workplace design. We also know people want to feel included, respected, comfortable and safe in their working environment. They want to know what their role is in the bigger picture and that their values align with the organisation they work for.
As part of the government, it is our job to ensure that these are woven into our workplace design principles – to build or refurbish the workplaces of tomorrow for today’s civil servants, but also to inspire all players in property.
Take our building at 10 South Colonnade in London’s Canary Wharf. This brought together 12 different departments in a smart and connected workspace that was redesigned around the people and their needs, while also saving over £24m a year in property costs.
The GPA is already home to some of the best property experts driving commercial deals such as this – creating partnerships, representing the UK’s best government covenant and managing and optimising the vast portfolio of offices and warehouses that are used to help run the country.
We are also currently recruiting for more than 100 roles, which we will fill with skilled colleagues from both the civil service and private sector, including market-facing rainmakers and emotionally intelligent line managers who can build a long-term career with us.
It is this match, where property and people come together, that will really be transformational for the long term.
I am proud to have joined the GPA at such a pivotal time where people and property blend into a perfect match with which to deliver the government’s agenda.
Debra Soper is chief operating officer of the Government Property Agency