This year, MIPIM explores how real estate is driving urban change through the transformation of spaces, and in its lead-up, Locale is proud to launch a series of blogs discussing how the industry is rethinking the way we live, work, and play to enable a more sustainable future. First up, our CEO and founder, Guy Windsor-Lewis, looks at the office and its reinvention to make a major comeback to our daily lives in 2022.

Is the office dead? It’s a question I’ve seen asked in hundreds of polls over the last 18 months. And surprisingly, it’s still being seriously asked today, even though I think this has been answered. Whilst remote working was successful, going full-time is most definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. According to a new survey of more than 10,000 workers around the world by Slack’s Future Forum, 58% are now in hybrid working arrangements. So no, the office isn’t dead, it’s simply different in how occupiers are interacting with it, and its adapted comeback is making a storming success.

Changing the idea of the office

The desire for professional and collaborative spaces is very much alive, and property agents have made bets on people not being ready to entirely give up working in a social setting. Property agent Savills has made a number of major investments in premium office sites, and anticipates a generated turnover of £13.1 billion in 2021 – near pre-pandemic levels. According to Chris Staveley, head of EMEA office investment at JLL, “The market paused to seriously consider the office sector. But demand is high for top quality, amenity-rich, and more sustainable buildings.” Furthermore, real estate such as co-working spaces are quickly gaining back the momentum it lost during the pandemic.  All clear indication that belief in offices, and office environments is alive and kicking.

However, people want more than a space to plugin, they are seeking culture and a sense of belonging. To compete with the pleasures of home and the innovation of co-working spaces, the sector must develop the office into dynamic areas with the support of technology, engagement platforms, and smart software to create optimal workplaces that prioritise efficiency, mindfulness, wellness, and health in its offering and design.

Building a community

For offices to demonstrate its value, it needs to be reminded of its USP: the team. The office is where teams connect, collaborate, and socialise in person. It’s the place where ideas spark, conversations flow, and friendships are cemented. We’ve forgotten that the office is meant to act as the catalyst for driving working relationships, and so for offices to make a sustainable comeback and establish its valid role in our lives, the industry must invest in community building and culture development. We cannot underestimate the role it plays in how office spaces are viewed and used, especially as the craving for social interaction is at an all-time high. All the foosball tables, comfortable working lounges, and amenities put in place to entice occupiers will count for little if there is no proper investment in creating a solid community that focuses on collaboration, wellbeing, and sharing.

Giving the people what they want

Combining a people-driven strategy along with the technology to support the management and engagement of spaces will result in a powerful cocktail that will once again catapult offices in the mainstream, and once and for all, wipe away the post-pandemic doubt plaguing its relevancy.

Offices may look different, but it’s far from dead.

If you want to discuss how to transform office spaces to meet modern expectations and standards, connect with Locale at MIPIM 2022 on15-18 March by, contacting info@locale.co.uk.

 

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