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Pandemic has accelerated drive to agile working ‘by years’, says COEL’s Daniel Fordham



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The pandemic has brought forward the drive towards agile working spaces by several years, believes COEL’s new head of property services, Daniel Fordham.

As we emerge - hopefully - from lockdown, he expects innovation in the use of commercial property. and renewed focus on the work-life balance of staff.

Daniel Fordham, head of property services at COEL
Daniel Fordham, head of property services at COEL

Cambridge-based COEL, a finalist in the Cambridge Independent SME Cambridgeshire Business Awards, has already been witnessing the desire for greater flexibility in its work on office and laboratory refurbishments.

“Agile working is set to be at the forefront of commercial workspace decisions as we come out of lockdown," said Daniel. "It was something that was always on the horizon, but the pandemic has brought it forward several years - and so for COEL to already be pioneering well-thought-out agile workspaces makes this an exciting time to be part of the team.”

Daniel, 35, who joined COEL in October from Cushman & Wakefield, added: “There’ll undoubtedly be a lot of innovation. Landlords will be looking at restructuring commercial leasing strategies, developers will be looking at supplying more accommodation to support agile working.

“Employers will be considering how to blend and balance the work and personal lives of their employees, as this is now a key factor in job satisfaction and talent retention.”

COEL’s work at introducing an agile workspace at one of Daniel’s previous employers, Bidwells, helped bring the company to his attention.

Bidwells' Cambridge offices, which COEL worked on
Bidwells' Cambridge offices, which COEL worked on

“The spaces they create are very exciting, and I wanted to be part of that,” he said. “Hopefully I bring the corporate knowledge to the business, allowing us to understand our clients' requirements, having in turn been the ‘client’ myself.”

Daniel has more than 13 years’ experience in the management of commercial estate and property, and counts Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust among his previous employers too.

“I’ve worked from the ground up, starting out in swimming pool plant operations and private leisure centre maintenance management,” he explained.

“I've managed leisure and educational centres in and around Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and worked closely with the mobilisation of the University Technical College, Cambridge, before deciding to consolidate my career in professional services, working in facilities management for Bidwells, supporting the estate and client property portfolio at Granta Park.”

Daniel was appointed at Bidwells in support of the Brookgate CB1 and CB4 portfolios, working on the mixed-use estates’ development and management strategies, with some of the country’s biggest real estate management and investor firms.

At Cushman & Wakefield, he headed up facilities and property service delivery for Aviva Investors in Cambridge.

“One of my biggest projects was leading the mobilisation and services delivery to 50-60 Station Road, taking the 230,000 sq ft property from the construction phase to ‘business as usual’ status and overseeing 14 simultaneous fit-out projects,” he said.

COEL's work on Bidwells House, Cambridge. Picture: Andrew Wilkinson
COEL's work on Bidwells House, Cambridge. Picture: Andrew Wilkinson

COEL’s property services department works on everything from maintenance works and planned preventative maintenance agreements, through to supporting the design, build and commissioning of mechanical and electrical systems and workplace mobilisations from project phases into occupation.

The team deals with commercial offices and buildings across the Eastern region and the Oxford to Cambridge corridor.

“We work on some great projects, often on an ad hoc basis, so I’m keen to grow our brand and outreach and create longer-term relationships with existing and forthcoming clients,” said Daniel. “I'll be focusing on consolidating our processes, ensuring that we've got consistency and efficiencies across all our service areas, with the common goal of providing unrivalled customer support.”

Alistair Rumbelow, COEL’s managing director, said: “Daniel's arrival with the COEL team is of immense worth and will be fundamental in our continued growth and commitment to delivering exceptional customer service."

The company announced a management buyout earlier this month.

COEL is a finalist in the Business of the Year (More than 50 Employees) category at the SME Cambridgeshire Business Awards, which will be held virtually on April 29.

Read more

Management buy-out at COEL a sign of ‘confidence’ in growing business, says CEO

Finalists for Cambridge Independent SME Cambridgeshire Business Awards revealed

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