London Offices Still Struggling To Find A Middle Ground Between Coworking And Cubicles
When it comes to modern office design, there are several options available for the modern tenant to choose from. While some tenants prefer a quiet, closed office space, others choose to lease space in more open and flexible offices. The rise of WeWork and other space-as-a-service offerings has proven that the office market is evolving, and it is still ripe for innovation.
What is still missing from the equation is a middle ground between long-term, traditional office leases and short-term, flexible office plans. In London, coworking spaces like WeWork and Mindspace continue to offer a social and amenitised experience for workers, but there remains a high demand for more traditional assets as well. In the near future, the London office market could begin to see more offices that offer different types of spaces and give tenants more control over leasing terms.
“At the moment, office tenants have a relatively clear-cut choice,” Booth said. “They can commit to a traditional office space for five or 10 years, or they can go with a serviced coworking space. But we need to think about how to provide a middle ground for people who are not interested in the social aspect of coworking, but still do not want to commit to a long-term lease.”
While the London office market has not yet perfected the art of providing a mix of traditional and flexible office space, landlords are using emerging technology to help them get there. Emerging tech platforms are assisting building managers in their efforts to understand what tenants want from their space. This data-driven approach allows people to collect information to better inform office design and leasing decisions, and offer office spaces that meet the needs of tenants.
“This PropTech trend continues to dominate the London office market,” Booth said. “This can be quite meaningful, it has become more lifestyle driven, with apps and platforms focusing on employee engagement.”
Studies suggest that providing more work options to employees could help give them ownership of their space. A survey of over 12,000 workers across 17 countries found that workers who do not have control over their office space tend to be less engaged than those who have control over how they work.
“Many places need to change to create an ecosystem of spaces,” Steelcase Global Research Director Chris Congdon said to Curbed. “We found that giving people control over their environments makes the most difference. It allows people to feel like they have a little more control. ‘I can choose based on what I need to do, my personality type.’”
Many open offices, for example, don’t succeed unless they also offer conference rooms and phone booths. Similarly, property management companies can benefit from offering both short- and long-term leasing options to appeal to companies with various occupancy timelines.
Finding a balance between traditional and flexible office is easier said than done, but Booth says it could happen in the next few years.
“There are several elements to factor in,” he said. “We need to think about what tenants want, and how those needs are constantly changing. Soon, someone will get the equation right.”
This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Savills. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.