BE Offices recently appointed a general manager, Richard Taylor, to its latest flexible workspace offering at the fabulous Custom House in Belfast. Let’s find out a bit about him.
Welcome to the BE Offices team Richard. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for the welcome, it is great to be part of the BE Offices team. I’m thoroughly enjoying my trips over to London to get to know everyone in the various centres and of course to spend time at the BE head office in the Barbican.
I’m actually a hotelier by trade, having spent the last 20 years working in hotels, the last three at the famous Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, in Newcastle Co Down. As Percy French wrote; “It is where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.”
What attracted you to the role Custom House General Manager?
The building first and foremost, how could you not want to work within such an iconic place? Secondly, the BE Offices team. Quite simply put they are the very best at what they do. They say the “customer is the beating heart of BE”, they care very deeply about what they do and it shows. They are a team of professionals dedicated to this goal… but they also remember the fun element of work. Creating and maintaining a sense of community in their business centres is critical, they want to create an environment that makes people want to come to work, and it certainly makes me want to come to work.
What does the historic significance and iconic status of Custom House mean to you?
You cannot help but wonder at the history that Custom House has seen. Designed by Belfast’s most prominent architect, Charles Lanyon, it was built before Harland & Wolff was founded in 1861, even before the Albert Clock was built in 1867. You could have stood in the Commissioner’s office (pictured below in 2022) in 1912 and witnessed the launch of the Titanic. You cannot escape that history, and the responsibility that we have in bringing Custom House back to life…
The building is in the final stages of fit-out, how are you spending your time prior to the first clients moving in on the 28th September?
The devil is in the detail as they say and Custom House is all about the detail. We are spending our time finalising the IT offering with it’s unrivalled 10Gb primary and 10Gb back-up lines, unknown until now in Northern Ireland, and possibly even the whole of the UK. Finalising the best possible furniture, lighting, planting, music and scent, so you really do feel that you are entering a five star hotel for offices… you may also find me taking down scaffolding on a bank holiday Monday.
You have a background in hotel management and hospitality, how does this tie in with the BE Offices approach to customer service?
As I said, this a five star hotel for serviced offices. The hospitality experience and skills that I have honed over the last 20 years are vitally important to the way in which Custom House will operate. BE have a value that is very important to me – If we are not serving a customer we will be serving someone who is – and that is key, service is above all what I am about, couple this with BE’s award-winning Service Excellence Guarantee, and you can be assured of the very best customer service Belfast has to offer.
Custom House is on track to achieve Platinum WELL Certification, what will this mean to clients in the building?
This is, as the award says, the Platinum stamp we are putting on Custom House. As well as customer service, we are placing wellbeing at the heart of the workplace, ensuring the very best working environment for all our clients as well as the staff who will be supporting them. The WELL building standard is split into seven distinct categories, focusing on air quality, water quality, mind, nourishment, fitness and comfort. These are all proven factors that contribute towards a better quality of life within the workplace. Simply put, we want to make this the very best building to work in, in Belfast.
You are the first recruit to the team for Custom House. When the building is fully operational what will the client support team look like?
The service and support team will be exceptional. BE Offices are unique in that they directly employ their own dedicated operations team, including maintenance, cleaning and security personnel enabling us to ensure the very highest standards in our building, of which we will be justifiably proud. Not only will we have a full compliment of onsite centre support personnel to assist clients with any requirements, there will also be a highly experienced 24-hour IT support team, round-the-clock security, a dedicated facilities team, and even a dedicated meeting and events management team, meaning that Custom House can provide for a client’s every need.
Custom House will feature some exceptional facilities, podcast room, wellness pods, gymnasium and more. How essential do you think these features are to today’s workspace offering?
BE have put their 30 years of industry knowledge and experience into offering everything that a five star hotel for offices could deliver. We want our clients to feel as if they are going to much more than just a workplace, and that their time in the office is more akin to a hotel experience, in a dedicated wellbeing-focused building that cares for them and their co-workers, it really is all about being experiential in the workplace.
You’ve been spending time with the teams at various BE centres and at head office, what impressions have you formed about the brand and the BE Offices teams?
They are the industry leaders. They are consummate professionals at what they do and they really care. They are BE. They are as their vision states “Building the business lifestyle everyone wants”. They are also the most warm, welcoming and FUN people you could ever wish to work with.
BE Offices is committed to responsible business practice, how important is it to you to work for an organisation who stands by their core values, and specifically that which states ‘We have a responsibility to our communities and the environment.’
Integrity is all, and this is key to me. They are putting not just our future at the core of their business, they are also putting the future of our planet at their core. That is what real leadership is about and this where BE excel. We all need to start putting the environment at the forefront of not just our business activities but also the way we conduct ourselves in our personal lives, and if by starting the conversation with clients about their own sustainability goals leads them to do this, then we have made a positive impact. As our CSR manager says, its all about each of us playing our part and making even small changes which as a collective can make a huge difference.