Hybrid working futures

Q&A with James Nicholson, Partner, London Office Agency at Knight Frank about the future of the workspace.

The future of the workspace has gained increasing importance over the past few months as cities start to gear back into motion, how has the pandemic changed our relationship to the office? 

The pandemic prompted us all to explore new ways of working, revealing that for many the office is not somewhere you have to go to every day, but instead is somewhere you can choose to go to.

We mostly liked not commuting, having more time to exercise, eat meals with family, relax, stop and think. And we found that certain types of work, typically work requiring focus and concentration, is better done away from the noise or distractions of open plan, densely occupied offices.

But whilst there were some upsides, we also realised that solving problems, developing new ideas and learning from others is much more effective when you’re together. Communication is easier and relationships are quicker to form and stronger when we meet regularly in person. At a company level, maintaining values and culture is a challenge without having an office as a central hub.

As flexible working seems to be sticking with plenty of businesses adopting a hybrid working week, how can offices respond to these changes?

In a hybrid working future, employees will enjoy more flexibility to work wherever they can best accomplish their tasks – be that in the office, at home, or elsewhere.

Our second edition of (Y)OUR SPACE reveals survey results from almost 400 global businesses, which collectively employ over 10 million people worldwide, on how they’re adapting and future-proofing their real estate strategies. As it turns out, collaboration space is key.

55% believe they will increase the proportion of collaborative space in their offices over the next three years. 

Crucially, 90% regard real estate as a strategic device for their business in support of wider transformation. This heralds a turning point for offices as they become more about promoting collaboration and stronger employee and client relationships than banks of desks. We expect fewer desks for individual work and a wider variety of collaboration spaces to suit different types of teamwork, both formal and informal.

What does the future of the workplace look like to you? 

The future of the workplace will not be a one-size fits all solution but, will include a greater variety of spaces that reflect the particular needs of different sectors, businesses, teams, and roles.  

Whilst the pandemic has fast-tracked trends that were already in play, adaptation required to meet the “new normal” will be more of an evolution and the picture in a year or two’s time may well be different.

Business leaders must however provide healthy and safe environments for employees, which are sustainable, and ‘smart’ – ensuring that you can measure and improve these.

Flexibility is also likely to remain a key requirement for businesses. Particularly in terms of outsourcing office space design, delivery and operations to experts whilst they focus on their day-to-day running.

You have a new workspace up and running, can you tell us what it provides and who it is aimed at?

In 2019, Knight Frank joined forces with award-winning coworking operator, Work.Life to create a new workspace operator “Yours”.

Yours combines the convenience of a serviced office – operated by experts, but with the ability to tailor the space to a business’ unique requirements.  

Yours customers range from fast growing companies, outgrowing serviced offices and looking to establish their own identity, to established corporates who need more flexibility, are keen to outsource the growing burden of running their real estate, and want to maintain their own brand and culture in their workspace.

Yours offers spaces all over London, encouraging interested parties to tour the options before confirming the location and bespoke office design that works best for them. It’s then over to our delivery team to fit out the office space, ready for move-in day. Businesses will be welcomed with a tour of the office space, a rundown of what’s provided as standard – which is everything you’re likely to need – plus a Yours contact for any additional requirements.

From then on, the space is managed by the Yours team, removing the burden of day-to-day office management.