The future of office space (part 1).
Danny Hicks, Thought Leadership at Virgin Media O2, introduces this week’s Blue Door Podcast.
In this week’s episode of the Blue Door Podcast, we bring together a panel of speakers from CBRE, WeWork and VirginMediaO2 as we look at the future of office and work spaces, and how organisations are considering the way they’ve traditionally operated and what they need for the future.
Part 2 available here.
You can stream, download or subscribe to the full podcast episode here
I was joined by Nick Giraudeau, Global Head of Financial Services Sales at WeWork, Dave Cairns, Senior Vice President – Office Leasing at CBRE and Chris Early, from Virgin Media O2, who looks after building acquisition through to disposal, office design and fit-out, as well as estates, space management and some FM in between.
I wanted to hear the panel’s views on the future of office space, and specifically:
- What are some of the approaches being seen in the current market? How are organisations repurposing, rethinking and reshaping the space that they have?
- Expectations for the future: What does the future of office space hold in 3 and 7 years?
- How do the needs and expectations of employees and employers differ when it comes to work spaces?
- How has technology evolved the need for “spaces”?
We’ve seen a transformation in the way people, knowledge and desk-based workers have had to work over the last eighteen months. Where for some, working from home was once considered a privilege or perk, businesses suddenly needed to enable remote working across the organisation simply to stay afloat.
Dave Cairns spoke about how organisational culture is so often discussed alongside the debate about where and how employees work:
“Some organisations, such as Dropbox, are effectively making their existing HQs act like coworking hubs. And they have no romanticism whatsoever about their culture and physical space being like tied directly at the hip.”
“Anecdotally, I am seeing certain smaller companies and start-ups doing really interesting things. They are building workplaces that are really geared around activity-based forms of working, rather than around sitting at a desk and typing emails. And so those workplaces are smaller and far more agile.”
I talked with Nick Giraudeau about scalability, and how organisations need to assess how much and what sort of space they need:
“Firstly, it’s important to understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’. We’re dealing with big, institutional companies that are trying to go through change, who perhaps have huge legacy portfolios. And they’re trying to reduce their footprint, and trying to work out how much space they need overall. In those sort of scenarios, wework is able to offer them the ability to bet bigger.”
“And then at the other end of the scale, we’ve got smaller companies or newer start-ups whose working practices are more remote or hybrid already, who have started thinking about the need and benefits of getting people back in the office.”
Chris Early and I discussed serendipity – and the extent to which it only happens when people collaborate, face to face, in a physical location (that ‘water cooler’ moment):
“I think serendipity does happen in offices, but to be honest, most of it happens elsewhere. I think there’s a greater chance of it happening in an organisation like wework, because you haven’t just got people at their desks, on their own, having the same conversations with the same people every day. Studies show that even if you separate workspaces by just a few metres, collaboration and communication drops off very quickly. “
“I think one of the big selling points for shaking up how buildings work, and how people come together, is the goal of enabling more effective collaboration, innovation and serendipity.”
Part 2 available here.