Offices are back but they are flexible and people-centric, experts agreed at Real Asset Media´s The Future of Office briefing, which took place at MIPIM in Cannes.
¨The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology, which means that people now have a choice between working from home or going to the office, just like they have a choice between ordering online or going to a store¨, said Nick Axford, Principal, Global Director of Research, Avison Young.
¨There´s overwhelming evidence that people want and need some time in the office, but how much time really depends on the quality of the office¨, he said. ¨If employers provide the right environment then people will want to go back to the office¨.
The details of the right environment depend on the organisation and the location, but the general principles are universal: environmentally sustainable buildings, healthy spaces, flexibility, good transport links, closeness to services and amenities and a connection to the local community.
¨We have proved that we can work outside of the office, but there´s a real sense that people want to go back to meet people and collaborate¨, said Danya Pollard, Head of Capital Solutions, Cromwell Property Group. ¨Hybrid working presents challenges and opportunities, but it promotes a better work/life balance¨.
The temporary changes the pandemic has brought about can lead to a permanent and positive re-thinking of working patterns and the role of the office.
¨The work-life balance has been talked about for a long time but now it is happening in practice¨, said Karolina Sulma, Legal Department Director, Skanska Office Development CEE. ¨Flexibility is clearly something both employees and employers want and the need for collaboration in the office must be kept in mind when designing the space¨.
Flexibility means flexi space in the office, that can be adapted to provide meeting rooms and collaboration spaces, but also flexi time, giving employees the choice to work from home at least some of the time.
¨The idea of the office as collaboration city is not very realistic¨, said Axford. ¨There is too much focus on amenities at the moment, but people still need places for quiet, focused work without distractions. Employers need to provide both¨.