The future of the office environment 28 Jun 2021
The future of the office environment
As lockdown eases many businesses face the dilemma: back to the office or flexible working from home.
At Perry Holt, we have been really encouraged by the increase in demand for office space, as the country returns to work with the easing of lockdown restrictions. With around £2.6billion invested into the UK commercial property market in May – double that of 2020 – it is clear that the physical dimension of work has become more important than ever before.
We have been looking at how our clients are envisaging the future of the office environment post-COVID pandemic and wanted to share the 3 top requirements we have been seeing:
The future of the office environment: The Top Trends
1. Providing extra space for each person
Over the past decade we have seen more and more people being squeezed into the office space, a typical office would allow 8m2 per employee, but post pandemic, in order to trade safely, that space must increase. That said, with universal home-working flexibility accelerated, it may mean that the size of the office can be reduced due to employees only coming into the office 2-3 days per week, provided that adequate hygiene standards are adhered to, if people are to continue to ‘hot desk’ and share their office space.
The future of the office environment: The safety factor
We are still seeing the trend of the open-plan office continuing, but now there are different requirements within that office environment. Safety is key, people need to have more space and feel comfortable returning to work within that space, with more dedicated individual work areas, not walled off into offices, but with a more aesthetic appearance, glass partitions, more greenery and less office-style furniture.
Of course, hygiene is now paramount, so as well as more space for each person, we are seeing office design utilising anti-microbial materials, which are usually seen in hospitals, to coat surfaces within the workplace (ceilings and floors, desk, lifts, chairs, kitchen units and other surfaces). Other materials which are known to shorten the lifespan of the COVID-19 virus are also being seen, such as copper or untreated wood and technology is increasing to more office touchpoints, such as touchless interfaces like automatic door openers, conference booking systems, self-flushing toilets.
The future of the office environment: Close to home in Watford
We have been watching closely the new TK Maxx HQ being built in Clarendon Road, Watford. This iconic building has been designed by Sheppard Robson who has dubbed Watford as part of the new “suburban capital”, commuter-belt towns where global corporations are now choosing for their business communities, rather than being in central London. Mark Kowal, partner at Sheppard Robson says “we are seeing much more investment into the ‘suburban capital’ making the office space on a par with any London market in terms of quality, detailing and amenities, in particular, the incorporation of the rooftop terrace to encourage a sense of community.”
We cannot wait to see how the TK Maxx HQ turns out when it is finished!
The future of the office environment: What's hot
2. Giving people what they can get at home
Two things have become very apparent during the recent lockdowns:
a) Working from home has many advantages, such as zero commuting, hence more time with family and loved ones, easy booking of parcel deliveries and tradespeople visits, fresh air, natural light and a choice of working space – the kitchen, the home-office, the sofa or even the bedroom.
The future of the office environment: Creating positive energy
2. Giving people what they cannot get at home
b) Working from the office has many advantages, such as starting and stopping when you leave your desk, top-notch equipment and technology, social interaction with colleagues, no interruptions from the family or pets, or delivery drivers. So, the aim now is to try and encompass all of the positives and none of the negatives into the new office environment and make it ‘home from home’ with ‘great creative energy, easy commutability and variety in the day’.
The future of the office environment: What's new
Australian energy company Woodside has just launched their new office ‘campus’ designed by Global workplace strategists Unispace, which really challenges the traditional office space and has a strong focus on social connectivity, team collaboration and staff wellness. Take a look:
32 floors with more than 60 spaces including a family-friendly level where children can do their homework, or play whilst their parents finish work, includes a game zone with retro arcade games, Playstations, table tennis and table football, even a rooftop swimming pool. They also have a mindfulness area, quiet rooms, armchairs and sit or stand desks.
The future of the office environment: What's unique
Square Mile Farms, London SW8 have taken the outdoor life to another level, bringing vertical farming to the office space.
They believe that their office farms bring well-being and sustainability to the modern, post-Covid workplace, which will relieve stress, improve productivity, purify the air, act as a sound barrier, create a sense of place, and make people happier. Office farms are ideal for:
- Lobbies & atriums
- Conference rooms & workspaces
- Restaurants & canteens
- Terraces & courtyards
- Communal areas
- Rooftops & basements
The future of the office environment: Flexible Working
3. Combining social interaction in the office environment and virtually
There appears to be complete diversity in the return to work process. Some companies and, indeed, employees have discovered that a considerable number of job roles, which usually take place in the office, can be carried out productively from home. We are seeing some businesses planning to shift to more flexible working arrangements, allowing certain team members an office / working-from-home balance.
The future of the office environment: The WOW factor
However, there are many businesses that really rely on face-to-face interaction and the ability to brainstorm and build relationships with colleagues, sharing ideas and collaborating with coworkers. Many employers still firmly believe in the corporate culture and having a team together where they can share a common vision and purpose.
There needs to be excellent functionality in all office space now and a business needs to be able to create a seamless experience for those at the office and those working from home. It is important to be able to share the company culture across both working environments and this ultimately needs exceptional connectivity and top-notch technology. Incorporating a video wall into your office is a great way to bridge the gap between home and office workers. Make the ‘boardroom experience’ one to remember and wow every visitor that comes into your office space.
The future of the office environment: Find yours with Perry Holt
Get in touch
If you are looking for office space or considering the choices you have when bringing back your teams into the office, why not speak to us and let us talk through the options with you. At Perry Holt, we can help you source your next office space and help you with planning how to make it the best space possible for your team. Find out all about our Commercial team HERE.