Smart Workspaces

BT adapts to new workstyles with dynamic technology


One of the UK's leading telecommunications and network providers and a provider of global communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries.

Industry: Service provider
Location: London, United Kingdom
Size: 104,000 employees



  • Enhance collaboration and well-being in the workplace
  • Establish a consistent network template for all new offices
  • Identify ways to streamline network management through automation and standardized processes


  • Flexible workspaces capable of being reconfigured to match user needs
  • Streamlined network management with automatic health checks and access control
  • Reduced energy costs, proactively managing unused access points

Driving the UK's largest workplace transformation projects

BT is one of the world's leading communication services providers. It is also one of the UK's largest and most influential employers. Every day the business has teams working from offices, partner sites, in the streets, and at employees' homes throughout the country.

As such, BT's Better Workplace Program is critical to the future success of the business. The largest workplace improvement program and consolidation scheme of its type ever undertaken in the UK, Better Workplace aims to enhance collaboration and well-being among colleagues, and functions as an example of the type of business BT wants to be: modern, flexible, and user-focused.

BT endeavors to create a workplace environment that can help attract new talent and get the most of employees' time in the office. The program also functions as a testing ground for the latest smart building ideas. BT intends to establish a leadership position in the smart buildings sector, helping its customers apply smart building technology to reduce costs, cut emissions, and create healthier workspaces.

The heart and intelligence of the new office

The plan is to consolidate from 300 UK offices to 30, creating new, regional hubs. The hubs will enable colleagues, many of whom work hybrid, to collaborate and innovate when they do choose to come into the office. The new workspaces will be as much functional workspaces as they are places to stimulate social and cultural interaction.

Each location will be built off a dynamic, consistent network platform, one that provides secure access for a diverse range of users, devices, and applications, yet is simple in its management.

Perhaps the best example of this is at the new BT head office, One Braham in London. The space can house 3500 employees, while hybrid working will also allow many to flex their time between home and office. One Braham allows teams to gather in “neighborhoods” according to their business function.

“One Braham is a transformational opportunity, not just in terms of office space but in how colleagues interact,” says Colin Bannon, global CTO, BT. “Having a great colleague experience is important to us. It will allow us to learn, grow, and remain relevant.”

This is a journey without an end. The finish line keeps moving forward. We're in lockstep with Cisco on that journey. We want to continue to grow and innovate together.

Colin Bannon, Global CTO

Creating repeatable designs and methodologies

One Braham, like all new and refurbished BT workplaces, is built on a comprehensive suite of Cisco solutions. This is tied together through an engagement with Cisco Customer Experience (CX).

“CX is instrumental in helping us get the most out of the Cisco components,” Bannon explains, “whether that is lifecycle management, user adoption, or network design.”

The Cisco solution addresses each element of the BT brief: Cisco Catalyst Center and Cisco Spaces serve to define the physical space; Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) simplifies network access; versatile Cisco Catalyst switches and Cisco access points provide connectivity options across every corner of every building; Cisco Umbrella strengthens network security, and Cisco ThousandEyes delivers analytics and insights beyond the border perimeter. Together, BT and Cisco have developed network templates for each site.

“It is the heart and intelligence of the building,” says Bannon. “The engagement with Cisco creates repeatable designs and methodologies.”

Workplace mobility within a dynamic environment

For the 3500 employees using One Braham as a base, there is complete workplace mobility. Teams can work from anywhere within the building; meeting rooms or hot desks are booked in advance. An app enables visitors to see which colleagues are in the building and where they are sat.

“A brilliant user experience is key to building trust and, as a service business, trust is supremely important,” says Bannon.

For the building managers, the current approach involves trialing Kontact IO sensors with Cisco Spaces for Smart Buildings, aiming to deliver granular details on how the space is being used. Areas can be reconfigured to host events or closed off if unused. BT can map trends on busy days of the week, which meeting rooms are most popular, or how often to schedule cleaning and maintenance timetables.

Cisco Catalyst Center offers more than just reducing power consumption during quiet periods. Alongside this capability, Cisco Catalyst Center utilizes automation and AI to optimize various network functions, including intelligent provisioning, comprehensive network management, policy enforcement, and enhanced security measures. This multifaceted platform empowers BT to streamline operations and maximize the efficiency of its network infrastructure. This has an obvious impact on energy usage, but also ties in with the business' desire to be smart and sustainable. Where actions are repeatable, automation steps in.

The Cisco approach enables BT to take each building, each floor, each workday, as a distinct entity. Bannon says the process of learning about and fine-tuning the management of all 30 regional hubs is ongoing. This process will arm BT with a wealth of direct experience as it conducts smart building conversations with enterprise customers.

“What we wanted was a persona-based design rather than a set of custom configurations," says Bannon. "The Cisco approach establishes finely grained access control, linked to an identity, with a security wrap. We are using Umbrella and ThousandEyes to create a near digital twin for each employee. It means we're able to constantly health check the network, so when users come into the building it's fully fit and ready to go.”

Encouraging adoption and simplifying the use of technology

The Cisco network delivers benefits today and promises to impact the BT business long into the future. Bannon says it is an example of how BT wants to approach technology: maximum use of a product's features, pragmatism rather than complexity, and the widest possible user adoption.

“The priority has been, particularly after the disruption of COVID-19, to create a welcoming space where people can unlock their creativity,” Bannon says. “We have a role to play in attracting employees back to the office. People have missed that experience.”

What's exciting, he continues, is that the new BT hubs can function as testing grounds for new workspace ideas. Innovation is constant. For example, building managers at One Braham are looking at automatically altering lighting and heating as the sun moves around the building, reducing energy costs. There are discussions around facial recognition, how this might extend to regular visitors, and what this could mean for network access.

"This is a journey without an end,” Bannon says. “The finish line keeps moving forward. We're in lockstep with Cisco on that journey. We want to continue to grow and innovate together.”