Refurbishment Projects

The future of the city centre office

The future of the city centre office

Introduction

As we begin taking steps to ease out of lockdown, a lot of companies are quite rightly questioning their office space. How can we make the return to work safe? Have their requirements changed? Do they need an office at all? And if the answer is yes, what will that office ‘look’ like, and how will it function?

Previous market and trends

Before the events of COVID-19, we were already seeing a significant shift to agile working patterns, and rationalisation of companies estates. Companies that didn’t previously think agile working was possible for them, now have well embedded systems in place to make the most of the new working from home arrangements. And it’s been shown that remote working does work for a lot of people.

There is still a need for a physical space, although the purpose has changed slightly. A lot of people are now attuned to working from home and a lot have home office set ups that facilitate productive working at home, giving a better balance. The office is shifting to being a place that enables people to come together and collaborate, supports the training and mentoring of junior team members and for meeting with clients where a virtual meeting isn’t appropriate.

Short and long term impacts on the offices

In the short term this has resulted in furniture moves and alterations to make the workplace more COVID friendly. But in the longer term, what does this hold?

Most clients that we are working with aren’t looking at their offices in the traditional sense any more. They are starting to think about how they can model their offices to make them more welcoming and in a way that enables collaboration to happen, with more emphasis on agile desks, bigger team spaces, different types of working spaces and more spaces for private calls. These are all trends that we have been seeing for some time now, and have been significantly fast tracked recently.

There is a cost premium for designing offices in this way, which is mostly impacted in the furniture package, but as companies rationalise their estate, many are choosing to reinvest the revenue expenditure saved on their leases (by taking smaller spaces) to spend more on making their office a really great place. This does require companies to reconsider how much they are willing to spend on a £/sft basis and benchmark this to other metrics such as £/person to give a meaningful comparison. Torridon are currently in the process of creating an interactive design and cost calculator that allows facilities managers to input a few high level project details and come up with a high level assessment of approximately how much space they need and how much these costs to construct.

Summary

These changes are ultimately resulting in better office spaces for everyone as offices become less about maximising the number of desks in a space and much more about interactive and uplifting spaces with a real emphasis on wellness.

What would your top improvement be?