It’s not yet done and dusted for the future of the office

Thinking about your office space? We can help. Chris Seeley and Mally Irving share some thoughts.

The future for offices is going to be very different! Recently Barclays’ boss, Jes Staley, said “The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”. Morgan Stanley’s chief said the bank will have “much less real estate”. Businessman, Sir Martin Sorrell, said he’d rather invest the £35m he spends on expensive offices on people instead. (BBC News)

We recently reflected in our paper Transition is more than Tech that Technology, Organisation and People (TOPs) are going to be the key drivers of change and we set out how our programme can or support that change. Changes in the way we use the office is part of that agenda.

Now we can’t think of any client with 7,000 people in a single office but it is not just big businesses who are having to think differently. All businesses are reflecting on how they utilise their office space in a more agile, more flexible, post-Covid world. Changes will impact differently, with older workers possibly having better (more) space to work from at home reflected in a recent survey by Savills which found that “Generational differences, including living circumstances, impact the importance of the office” and that “89% of respondents believe that the office will remain a necessity” (Savills)

Whilst we think there will be a drive from colleagues who have recently spent no time in the office to spend less time in the office on their return (we have seen estimates of 30-80% less time), we think the office will become a more important venue for our teams. Why so?– Well there is plenty of evidence that the office environment helps generate innovation and provides what Lucy Kellaway calls “merriment, purpose and kinship” (London Standard)  and Savills  say “The office is important in fulfilling the broader dimensions of work.” All of which are important in delivering your mission and, put simply, we don’t think that virtual can wholly cut it when it comes to building lasting team and customer relationships.

If then, people are spending less time in the office and working more flexibly, the office becomes more the focus for teamwork, collaboration and innovation.  The approach must therefore change and adapt.  For instance “desk space densities may decrease as the office is reconfigured to create a place employees want, rather than need, to be in” (Savills) and the ARK team is well placed to help you work through the issues and design solutions.

Our practitioners have great experiences working for a range of employers and clients to manage transition programmes including reviewing the office portfolio and space requirements, scoping changes to working arrangements, office layouts and, importantly, collaboration spaces. We would welcome the opportunity to talk about the approaches you might embrace in the brave new world.

For a discussion please contact Chris Seeley on 07770532571 or cseeley@arkconsultancy.co.uk