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The Silver Lining In A Post-Pandemic World Will Be Much Better Offices

As we all live under the cloud of a global pandemic, it can be hard to look on the bright side. However, a glimpse of a better future is starting to emerge. Offices are slowly being reinhabited, and businesses are feeling their way toward a new normal way of operating. New spaces continue to be developed and, some say, now is the time to add the level of customer focus and flexibility that people need from offices today.

“The role of the office has an opportunity to rebrand itself away from a functional necessity,” HB Reavis Leasing Manager Charlie Russell-Jones said. "It can become an environment that fosters innovation, collaboration and culture.”

Although COVID-19 has created a disruptive environment for all office developers and occupiers, it has provided an important benefit: the opportunity to view people’s changing relationship with the office from a safe distance. While businesses are digesting the changes to working practices, they have had the opportunity to consider the changes that were coming into play anyway. 

“Now, if you are going to work in an office you’re there to do more than sit amongst rows of desks,” Russell-Jones said. “How does the office support other fundamental aspects of our working life, such as our social interactions? And how can we digitise the physical office to support business?” 

Creating Wellness

International workspace provider HB Reavis has been asking these questions for years. However, the coronavirus pandemic has sped up work that was already underway to create the office spaces that companies and individuals actually need, today.

The developer is set to complete Bloom Clerkenwell in spring 2021, a building that was already putting wellbeing and sustainability first. For example, cyclists will benefit from 243 cycle storage spaces and direct access to the building off the Cycle Superhighway. Fitness is further encouraged by HB Reavis’ decision to include a 1,200 SF training studio. The aim is to create one of the first buildings in London to achieve Platinum-level WELL certification, along with BREEAM Outstanding and WiredScore Platinum.

“Every aspect of Bloom’s design has been tailored to enhance a company and their employee’s health, happiness and productivity,” Russell-Jones said. “We wanted to create a building that would attract forward-thinking occupiers who realise the value of workspaces that enhance company culture and have a positive impact on employees as well as the environment.”

Technology Leads To Flexibility 

To deliver its workplaces, HB Reavis is aided by its tech platform Symbiosy, which reports on myriad aspects of office utilisation and environment, from humidity and temperature to how space is being used. Symbiosy is installed in the workspace allowing employees contactless access, control of their environment and to book flexible workspace. It also allows occupiers easy access to data so they can see if the office is being used as it was designed, or if they need more flexible or collaborative working areas.

Since the global pandemic arrived, it has become a priority for all businesses to understand their operations and adapt space and usage to reduce infection risk. Recognising this, HB Reavis started to look at how it could help its occupiers make the most of all this information as soon as they move in. 

The result was the creation of a ‘ready-to-work’ concept, a technology-led workspace within Bloom Clerkenwell. The concept combines Symbiosy with a more flexible offering for how to occupy space. Businesses will be given increased analytics to understand how they use space and the opportunity to design their new space from the outset, with reduced capital expenditure.

“’Ready to Work’ has been designed to create flexibility for clients’ evolving business strategies,” Russell-Jones said. “We will work with the client to create a workspace design and fit-out that is tailored to a client’s needs. Further to that, the ‘Ready to Work’ offering will digitise the office user experience, enabling employees to see the live performance of their space and adjust the indoor environment and configuration to their own preferences.”

Through Symbiosy’s integration and ongoing support, occupiers can monitor and learn how their workspace is used over time. They will gain insights into productivity and in-company networks to help them make informed workspace design decisions. HB Reavis anticipates that this highly tech-enabled, flexible workspace offering will attract like-minded businesses to Bloom Clerkenwell, especially those that put wellbeing first and are looking to nurture company culture. 

In some respects, spring 2021 is an ideal time to launch a building for companies currently reassessing their priorities. While Bloom Clerkenwell already focused on wellbeing, the company has been able to respond to the global pandemic by using technology to inform its customer-focused offering. The office of the future might well be in a much better place than it ever has been. 

This feature was produced by the Bisnow Branded Content Studio in collaboration with HB Reavis. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.