Answers to frequently asked questions about the estates programme.
Some details of the programme are still developing and this section will be updated as the project progresses.
If you have a question that isn’t listed here, please let the project team know by emailing email@example.com.
Why didn’t the College secure the freehold for Sussex Place back in 1957?
The College would never have been able to secure the freehold for our current location – The Crown Estate would not offer the freehold of Sussex Place on principle.
Why hasn’t the College addressed this issue before?
The College’s estate has been discussed for a number of years. This is a significant piece of work with many complexities, so it has taken time for the initial discussions to be translated into action.
Are we taking expert advice and, if so, who from?
We appointed CBRE, property acquisition specialists, to help us find a new building, and Burke Hunter Adams as external project manager and quantity surveyor. We are also working with expert space planners to help us create the best possible working environment within the new building and with professional surveyors, engineers and technical consultants. All of our expert advisors are fully independent.
How will the views of staff be represented?
Staff were represented on the Estate Acquisition Group and continue to be involved in the programme feeding into the move project through the People and Process work stream, and JNCC representation on the Move Project Group. Wider staff views will be channelled through these bodies.
What happens if we can’t move into a new building by December 2019?
A Business Continuity work stream has been set up as part of the internal move project and is headed by the Executive Director, Resources. This group is currently working with all departments to develop contingency planning for the unlikely event that the College is unable to occupy our new home on Union Street by December 2019.
When will we be moving and how much notice will staff get?
Staff teams are expected to begin moving over to Union Street from November 2019. Further details will be made available closer to the time.
Who will move everything?
We will hire professional movers, taking into consideration any specific needs of teams/individuals.
Will we be taking existing furniture and AV/IT equipment with us, or buying new?
The equipment and furniture will be a blend of new and current items, with investment in new furniture and AV/IT equipment as part of the fit out to Union Street. There is a cost involved to the RCOG for the overall move project and therefore where some existing equipment and furniture continues to fulfil our needs it will be retained. The College will continue to invest in new equipment following the move in future budgetary periods.
Will there be any changes to staff benefits?
As we have not yet finalised the full facilities of the new building, we cannot answer this with certainty. However, should there be any changes required, these would require formal consultation with the JNCC.
Will the College still have a softball team and a choir?
These activities are led by staff and the College will continue to support them as long as there is sufficient interest and staff willing to take a lead.
Will the FSRH be moving with us?
We are expecting the FSRH to join us in our new building and they are involved in the planning.
Will we still host some specialist society secretariats?
Our current relationship with specialists will remain unchanged. We employ staff to directly deliver this work and there is no plan to change how this work is managed.
Will we still be able to host joint meetings with specialist societies?
Our aspiration is to host the vast majority – if not all – of our current events programme in the new building, and to continue to host other events in other locations. The same is true for our joint meetings with specialist societies.
What can I tell external contacts?
The news that the RCOG is leaving Sussex Place is now public knowledge. In December 2016 we emailed the CEO/President of external stakeholders – other medical royal colleges, specialist societies, government and NHS organisations, charities, commercial contacts etc. – to inform them of our forthcoming move.
You are therefore free to talk openly about the fact we are moving to external contacts, and to direct them to our website and also to use the firstname.lastname@example.org email address – but please keep the details about the background to the move, and our thinking about the new building, private. If you have any questions, or are unsure what to say to a particular contact, please email Fred Emden or Claire Dunn.
Impact on members
What do our Fellows and Members think of the move?
Many members understandably have considerable attachment to Sussex Place as the home of their College. However, the vast majority of members who have responded to our communications understand and accept the rationale behind our decision. Some have expressed their sadness, while others have been very positive and excited about the prospect of a new home for the RCOG.
Will members still be able to visit Sussex Place when we’ve moved out?
As the building will be operating as part of London Business School, we anticipate limited public access to the building. We are exploring ways to capture what College life is like at Sussex Place so we retain this part of our heritage.
Maintaining College activities over the transition period
During the 3 years when London Business School are our landlords, will they have any input into our activities?
No, London Business School will have no input on the College’s activities. For the vast majority of staff and directorates, the change of landlord from The Crown Estate to London Business School will have no impact.
The new building in London Bridge
When will we be moving?
We expect to begin the process of transitioning staff to the new building in November 2019 with this likely completing in December 2019.
Why this building?
This building meets the brief set for the College’s new home exceptionally well. It has the required space and condition for the College to operate in. It requires relatively few internal modifications for the core business, whilst having hugely exciting potential for improvement through the creation of an atrium in the courtyard. The location is both highly accessible, nationally and internationally, and London Bridge is an exciting and fast developing area.
Many alternative buildings were explored by the College, but 10-18 Union Street was by far the best fit for our needs and aspirations.
Have we bought a freehold/is there planning permission?
Yes, the freehold has been purchased and planning permission has been granted for the College’s plans to develop Union Street.
Are we under/on/over budget?
We are working hard to ensure that the building is delivered on budget.
What do you mean by shared enthusiasm for College of women’s health?
Extra space in the building presents a number of promising potential avenues for the college to explore and pursue. This may involve organisations joining the College. By working together, we will be in a stronger position to improve women’s health.
Can we hold admission ceremonies/dinners?
It is planned that the events space at Union Street will be able to deliver all the existing College events, courses, ceremonies and dinners. The Move Project Group is currently working with the architects to design the events/meeting spaces to allow as much flexibility as possible for specific meeting requirements.
Can we host exams in the new building?
Yes. We will anticipate continuing to hold exams at the RCOG’s new home on Union Street.
Will we have residential accommodation?
No, the space will not be used for residential accommodation as this will not be considered a valuable use of additional space. Alternative options are being explored and staff will be updated as we know more.
How will Union Street be accessible for users with a disability?
Union Street has been designed with specific regard to people with disability and the requirements of all users, notably those with mobility impairments, blind and partially sighted people, those who are deaf, the elderly and users of the building accompanied by small children.
Due to the works being performed on the existing buildings at Union Street, for the purpose of regulation it is treated as a new build, this means that the design is compliant with various building regulations for disabled users, and greatly improves on the level of accessibility that the College has at Sussex Place. By adopting an approach of design inclusivity the finished building will go beyond the minimum requirements set out in building regulations to ensure that the building is fully accessible to all users regardless of ability, age or gender.
There will be nine disabled WCs at Union Street, with a disabled WC situated on each floor for ease of access. Stairs and lifts are being upgraded as part of the works, with a new lift in the south building suitable for blind users. Hearing loops will be fitted in the meeting rooms located in the south building and large meeting hall, and infra-red hearing aids will be available.
The experience for users who are neuro-divergent is also being taken into account, with an intention to make the building easy to use through colour schemes that help orientate the user, and diagrammatic signage to help people navigate their way around the building. LED lighting is proposed in meeting rooms and office areas, making them more comfortable environments for those who find fluorescent lighting uncomfortable.
Will there be a café?
Yes. The new Union Street building will have a café. Additionally we are working closely with our partners Graysons, who will move with us, to create an attractive café space that appeals to staff, building visitors, as well as the community of Southwark.
Will there be kitchenettes?
Yes. The new Union Street building will have kitchenettes (tea points). Additional to the tea points on every floor, the College is also making provisions to create a staff room. The staff room, which will include full kitchenette style facilities, will be situated on the second floor of the building.
How will the RCOG ensure the new building is environmentally friendly?
Please see the Estates Environment and sustainability page.
Ways of working
Where will people sit?
Union Street is made up of four floors of office space. All floors will to some extent have staff presence, however the vast majority of office and desk space is located on floors 1, 2 and 3. Currently we are exploring the options of which teams sit on which floor. This is not as easy as it sounds, as different team sizes and requirements for working closely with other teams (adjacencies) have to be considered when mapping different options.
Currently we know that we will be sitting in a hot-desking environment. This will be applicable to all floors. But this doesn’t mean that you will sit at any desk somewhere on your floor. Rather, each team will be given a designated hot-desking area, which all staff working in that team will utilise. However hot-desking does mean that we will have approximately 30% fewer desks than staff, so it may be that on occasional days, when all staff are in the office on the same day, you will need to use one of the Hot-desking spill-over desks.
Each floor will have its own designated spill-over area, where staff can go if they have been unable to find a desk with their team or near their team. In the exceptionally rare occasion that you are unable to find a free desk on your floor, the first floor will contain an extra-large spill-over desk area.
Additionally, the new College building has a number of small breakout areas, with tables, chairs etc. These areas can be used for sole or group working activities. A number of laptops will be available to book through the IT team for when you feel like working in an environment that is not desk based. This level of flexibility will hopefully create more productive and innovative working environments and will ensure that all staff can be accommodated, even on the busiest days.
Will I be able to book my desk? If I can’t find a desk with my team where will I sit? How will people find you when hot-desking?
No. We will not be operating a desk booking system. The hot-desking environment, which is applicable to all floors, will mean that each team will be given a designated hot-desking area, which all staff working in that team will utilise. However Hot-desking does mean that we will have approximately 30% less desks than staff, so it may be that on occasional days, when all staff are in the office on the same day, you will need to use one of the Hot-desking spill-over desks.
Each floor will have its own designated spill-over area, where staff can go if they have been unable to find a desk with their team or near their team. In the exceptionally rare occasion that you are unable to find a free desk on your floor, the first floor will contain an extra-large spill-over desk area. So staff will, in all but exceptional circumstances, have somewhere to sit.
In relation to finding your team members, most of the time you will be sitting together, at times you will be sitting near each other on the same floor. Staff will also log into their phone regardless of location, so will be able to be reached using the telephone system.
Where will I store my belongings?
All staff will have access to a storage locker. The lockers the College has acquired provide as much if not more space than your average pedestal. The only difference between Sussex place and Union Street will be that personal storage will not be located at desks. In addition to personal storage some departmental office storage will also be available.
Where will people have private conversations?
There are a number of locations where people can have private conversations. These include staff only meeting rooms and booth areas.
It is however worth noting that in open plan spaces due to the background hum of the environment, it is generally the case that individual conversations are hard to overhear. Staff will experience this for themselves once we are in the new building. However staff should be reassured that plenty of provision for space to have confidential conversations is being provided.
Will people be tasked to clean their work space at the end of the day?
A clear desk policy will be in operation, the College’s clear desk policy can be found here. Staff will be asked to clear away any papers that they are using and store them safely in the personal lockers provided. This is in order to ensure that the desk is ready the following day for either yourself or one of your fellow team to use.
Will flexible work hours still be in place?
Yes. The College has no current plans to change its working practices of flexibility and use of core hours. Staff are encouraged to find innovative and creative ways to increase personal and team productivity, thereby delivering greater value and contribution to the College, for our members and to Women’s Health.
How will people work in areas around Union Street that don’t have a computer? e.g. the cafe
Wi-fi will be available in all areas of the building. There will also be a number of laptops available for staff to borrow during working hours.
How will the security of data be ensured at Union Street?
Where there is a requirement for teams to work with particularly sensitive or confidential data, considerations have been made to afford these teams greater privacy, such as placing them in a less open area of the office or replicating private spaces that they have at Sussex. As is the case currently at Sussex Place, under GDPR legislation data security is the responsibility of all employees.