BBC scrutinises water provision

News that the BBC is scrutinising the way bottled water and tap water are offered to staff suggests perhaps even a firm’s management of the elements can result in worthwhile savings during a recession.

It has transpired the broadcaster spends around £406,000 a year on providing bottled water, water dispensers and maintenance relating to the provision of this refreshing perk for staff.

Apparently, bottled water can be ordered for internal meetings, which last more than two hours. In addition, staff can order bottled water for hospitality events.

The BBC is now assessing the health and safety issues associated with providing mains-fed water.

Steve Bloomfield, senior national officer at Unison, said: “The BBC could save a lot of money, aside from the sustainability issues. Using the health and safety angle is ridiculous. You might as well say you are going to look at the health and safety issues of using plates.”

A BBC spokesperson confirmed these issues relate to the transportation of open containers / jugs of water around its buildings. A statement issued by the broadcaster read: “BBC canteen complexes can often be situated quite a distance from meeting and conference rooms, and we are, therefore, looking at containers which minimise risk of spillage.”

Perhaps the broadcaster should consider offering the beverage in plastic cups to mitigate all potential risks.

No doubt a robust communication strategy will be needed in order to appease staff if the BBC should decide to save money associated with providing water at work. It might be worth offering some of its more demanding stars a water filter to soften the blow.

Although the BBC did not confirm whether bottled water would be part of any cost-cutting measures, it has stated: “The provision of drinking water to our staff is a statutory requirement under the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992. The BBC occupies over 210 buildings in the UK employing approximately 22,000 staff. 

“Our preference is to offer a plumbed in drinking water supply and the availability of plumbed drinking water supply or the potential to install it is always considered when acquiring new space or renovating existing space. For example, the recent project to refresh office space in the BBC’s London White City building included the installation of plumbed in drinking water and the planned removal of nearly 50 water dispensers. 

“Only in buildings where such facilities do not exist and cannot readily be installed do we make available water dispensers. Our reliance on water dispensers will continue to decrease as we refurbish our offices or move to more modern buildings”

Other employers in the process of scrutinising the way beverages are offered in the workplace should also take a look at research from Mars Drinks that illustrates the importance of beverages in the workplace.

Out of the 600 employees surveyed, 81% believed tea and coffee to be a standard provision in the workplace, rather than an optional perk.

Additional research conducted by Mars Drinks showed that 43% of employees say hot beverages have a positive impact on their productivity and 59% that a hot cuppa helps them concentrate.