How do you create an office you want to visit?

Weekends feel like weekends again. Time to reflect yet also feeling incredibly busy with the family. Just how I like it. Although I have recently been writing more about not going to the office. I thought it made sense to write a little around how the office may be in the future. How do you create that “space” that people want to use. Want to commute. Feel productive using. 

There was a time when a workspace was fitted out and furnished before the opening of a building. It was designed and fitted out based on data collected during the planning, design and building. The data was historic with some forward thinking. The use of data allows space to be tailored for the users. WeWork I believe used data to really shape their workspaces. The data shows that people have rituals – set patterns that they do. This can be used in creating an experience for users of buildings. 

A key change would now be – building a shell and then allowing users to create their own internal space to their own specifications. The needs of occupiers are changing at an incredible pace – think about the time it takes to build a building. You need to evolve the plans to meet the needs for when they occupy. Combining data and insights to create this. 

A workspace needs many features to accommodate the many uses it may have. Hot-desking but also private offices. For smaller companies – they may look for opportunities for networking with others – open plan coffee areas and space for holding events and wider meetings. Large organisations look more broader in an office space – but still very relevant for SMEs. Workspaces that offer amenities like bike provision (and therefore shower facilities), well stocked kitchen areas providing space to meet and catch up, tech-enabled spaces including meeting rooms. And let’s not forget the furniture as it plays a hugely important role in the ambiance of the workplace and in providing a safe, relaxing and comfortable environment. A key for me is the balance between open plan space – space to collaborate – coupled with quiet hubs. 

For owners of buildings, their responsibilities may not be to fit out the workspace. This may be left to an operator or corporate occupier. There is a role they can play here – fostering longer term relationships with occupiers by guiding and advising on space. So how can you achieve that office that people want to visit:

  • The office needs space. You want to feel like you’re not squashed in. We have all spent time “locked” away over the last 16 months so we’re not likely to want to go to an office that small or feels small. Creating open spacious spaces will make an office certainly feel different to the study at home. 
  • An office needs to promote wellness and wellbeing. This can be achieved through many ways but certainly keeping people hydrated, incorporating large windows to let natural light in and outside space if possible. Three simple ways but there are many more and better yet ask your employees/customers what they want. 
  • Have dedicated areas that encourage creativity. Screens for technology solutions. Large whiteboards and seating areas to get those creative juices flowing. 
  • Think about lighting. Whether at home, the office or a cafe – you need natural lighting. It’s good for us. It’s good for the environment. It’s critical in office design. 
  • Comfort in the office is needed. The office will accommodate many ways of working so ensuring the seating is appropriate to accommodate these is needed. Think about your back! Think about flexibility! Think about design! If in doubt get an expert involved to help. And also think about standing locations as well as seated – links to the back.

So with a new model approaching for many we need to create spaces for people to feel productive. To feel like they can achieve what they need to for both their role and their wellbeing. The spaces available for working from home, working near home (a local cafe or more formalised working space), a decentralised office (that old hub-and-spoke model) and then the central HQ. 

Whether tenants or employees, there is a choice now. It is likely the corporation has adopted some kind of flexible working policy. Therefore you have the choice as an employee to work where is best for you. If they haven’t then maybe you take your talent elsewhere! For tenants (or better say customers) you want working space that works for you and if the space you use now isn’t working then look around (depending on your lease term). 

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