There will not be less offices but rather better offices in future, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s The Future of Office Investment Briefing, which took place online recently.
‘I’m very upbeat that the office will prevail,’ said Jake Jephcott, Chief Development Officer, Olivia Business Centre. ‘Developers and landlords are trying to provide the best environment and make buildings resilient and future-proof. It’s a dynamic situation.’
Improvements will be in the environment around offices, in the structure and interiors of buildings, in energy efficiency and air quality and in every smallest detail.
‘Tenants like to be able to open windows and let fresh air in, while having natural light in the stairwells encourages people to use the stairs rather than the lifts,’ said Tomás Jurdák, Partner, Head of Real Estate, MiddleCap. ‘It’s all part of future-proofing the building.’
The period of lockdown during the epidemic has shown everyone that it is possible to work remotely but it has also highlighted the importance of social contact.
‘The greatest discovery of the last ten years has been offices that promote cooperation and interaction to create value,’ said Jurdák.
‘More than buildings was our catchphrase from the beginning,’ said Jephcott. ‘Back in 2011 it was very new, but it was clear to us that a more collaboration-driven model was needed because people are community-led and want to feel part of a bigger picture.’
In practice this means that the office is no longer just about work but it’s about socialising, interaction and collaboration and the context must reflect that.
‘The new approach is reflected in the more colourful, resi-style fit-outs but also in the amenities, the sport facilities, the green spaces,’ he said. ‘There will always be a need for offices just as there will always be a need for retail. It’s a question of changing and adapting just like retail has done providing leisure activities and a better experience.’
Market experts agree that the sector will have to change. According to a poll conducted by Real Asset Media, 61% of respondents said that the demand for office space will stay the same but it will change, while 33% believe demand will go down. Only 6% think that it will increase.
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