What's Next for Offices?
As the UK tentatively approaches the final lifting of restrictions, thoughts are turning to life after lockdown. There has been a lot of speculation about the changes we can expect in the workplace, and to gauge opinion from all sides of the industry BNP Paribas Real Estate staged a series of virtual roundtables, taking in occupiers, investors, facilities managers and other interested parties.
This magazine is an attempt to distil all that expertise into a guide to reopening and reconfiguring the office and we are very grateful to the participants who shared their insights with us. To encourage a free and frank exchange of views, the meetings took place under the Chatham House Rule, which means we can report what was said, but not who said it.
The first point to make is that many of the changes we can expect were already beginning to emerge before the pandemic struck. There was already an established trend towards increased use of break-out space and informal meeting areas that encourage collaboration across disciplines. The era of one desk per employee was already on the way out.
Equally, growing concerns about sustainability were changing the office environment with a move away from hermetically sealed air-conditioned spaces. And concerns about overreliance on the private car were beginning to impact on location strategies.
But all of these trends have been accelerated exponentially by the shock of COVID-19. Decades of change have been compressed into 18 months and one thing is clear – the workplace will never be the same.