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Q&A: Savills' Nicky Wightman On The Future Of Work

Nicky Wightman

Londoners are embracing a different kind of work. Trends like coworking memberships, remote work and flexible office layouts are reshaping the traditional office. As the global workforce continues to grow and new technology enters the equation, the way people work is changing how London operates.

Bisnow caught up with Savills Director of Global Occupier Trends Nicky Wightman to find out how London commercial real estate is responding to emerging workforce trends. 

Bisnow: What trends are currently shaping the London workforce?

Wightman: The changing demographics of the London workforce are having an important influence over the nature and behaviour of the workplace. We are seeing a shift from lifetime employment to more transitory roles and self-employment. There has been an increased interest in purposeful work, coupled with concerns about the environment and sustainability. As people strive for more of a work-life balance, there is now an expectation that employees will have increased flexibility and the option to work remotely.

One of the major trends in the workplace for a number of years has been the focus on health and wellbeing. As a result, organisations are working hard to create engaging and dynamic work environments, which incorporate digital technologies and encourage people to want to come to work. The workplace has become a key part of how an organisation can attract and retain talent and companies are factoring this into their longer-term strategies. Given the wide range of potential workplaces in addition to the traditional office, this has never been more important. As we move toward a future where certain roles will become more automated, work will have the potential to be increasingly based around collaboration, creativity and imagination, and the workplace will reflect this new focus.

Bisnow: How are new developments and urban mobility impacting how and where people choose to work?

Wightman: It seems likely that new mobility solutions, which create more choice and flexibility for people, should open up greater opportunities in terms of both living and working locations. Mobility as a service should be seen as an integrated model and, by exploring methods beyond the traditional, cities will become more accessible places. As organisations increasingly put more effort into physical spaces, the changes in mobility should reflect this too in order to make access to these locations a seamless experience.


Bisnow: How is emerging technology and the Internet of Things playing a role in London work trends and commuting to and from work?

Wightman: We are seeing an increasing blend between the physical and the digital. We are seeing growth in the number of smart buildings and workplaces which facilitate the creation of efficient and collaborative workplace communities. We are also seeing the development of the connected home. It seems possible that mobility solutions will also include the ability to move seamlessly between our home and work environments.

Bisnow: Where is the office market growth in London? Is this being impacted at all by urban mobility and transit trends?

Wightman: In theory, as we see the development of new mobility solutions, we might expect this to positively impact areas which are not serviced by traditional mobility services. Given more choice and flexibility, for example, using a bike to get to work rather than relying on a bus, people will have much more scope to live and work in different areas.    

Bisnow: How do you expect work trends to evolve over the next five years? What about the next 10 years? 

Wightman: The workplace will remain a disruptive space with roles, sectors and environments becoming even more fluid than they currently are. Where people are working and what they are doing in those locations will change even more rapidly as “work” in a more general sense continues to be influenced by the blending of physical and digital. There is the expectation that this will become even more significant in the next five-10 years.

Wightman will be speaking at Bisnow's London State of the Market event. Find out more here.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and  Savills. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.