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The post-pandemic workplace

Is the ‘office’ an outdated concept?

  • Is the constraining nature of something ‘official’ being replaced with workplaces which prioritise connectivity, collaboration, creativity, ethics and diversity?  After the universal transition to working from home, do we seek less disconnect between work and live?  Should the workplace be more homely? Should it offer more flexibility (and more features – for example there have been calls on workplaces to provide day kennels for the dogs acquired during lockdown)?
  • As staff tip-toe back into the office, comfort and hospitality will matter more; likewise emotional, physical and intellectual safety, and features familiar with the home environment. As an example, Spaces offers exercise, art collections, even cookery demonstrations to entice people back into the work environment.
  • Companies looking to expand in the future won’t be searching for a bigger space: they’ll need more spaces, to give staff greater flexibility, reduce communing times and ultimately become more competitive in the market place.
  • The article will address how the post-COVID legacy can be used to transform work spaces.
  • It will also consider why the post-COVID world may not see a growth in the amount of office spaces, but it will see a growth in the number of offices.
  • An example of the new office trends are the designs by Maarten Jamin described in this article. The approach taken by Maarten towards sustainability is described here.

The role and purpose of art in the modern workplace

  • What role does art play in the modern workplace?
  • Is art decoration, or thought-provocation?
  • Maarten Jamin believes that its role is to make people sit up and think, to challenge their thoughts, and ultimately retain / inspire / create better people – hence the company name ‘better spaces; better people’.

The future workplace: 5 premium solutions

  • Everyone is predicting how the typical office will change post-pandemic – there are hundreds of new ideas – but Maarten Jamin, in his role of Design Officer of IWG plc has led a significant piece of qualitative research which identifies five premium solutions. These strikingly new concepts are inspired by IWG’s contacts and experiences worldwide (in commercial property and beyond) are already being put in place.
  • Including an option to provide numerous office hubs in a single town, these will considerably change the urban landscape including making use of spaces left underoccupied as a result of Covid-19 (more below).

The Design Factory

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  • Following this research, The Design Factory will launch in Amsterdam in September. This is a consumer-focused approach to building design which has more in common with the FMCG sector than traditional building design.
  • It is a new concept for the design of workplaces which takes the clients’ design, sustainability, social, financial and other priorities into consideration and creates the perfect space within the constraints given.

Two contrasting forms of co-working (offices spaces and co-working spaces): how to make the right choice

  • As many companies opt to move from company-run offices to shared office spaces, Maarten Jamin (who designs both) can describe the impact that both has on the employee and company output.
  • This would take into account issues such as the potential for collaboration versus the stimulation of working with others from different environments; the potential to share experiences versus the danger of working among competition companies; the very different social and functional interactions that emerge – and how design can both add benefit and mitigate downsides.

The 15 minute commuter?  Does the return to work scupper the 15 minute neighbourhood concept?

  • The concept of the 20 minute neighbourhood (or 15 Minute Citylow traffic neighbourhood or Liveable Neighbourhood) is a popular one – addressing many issues brought to the fore by the pandemic and also changing attitudes towards work, environmental issues, family life etc.
  • But as people return to offices the concept may fall flat – because the average daily commute in the UK in 2019 was 62 minutes.
  • The concept of the suburban office hub addresses this issue, providing office spaces (both as shared office spaces and company offices) within 10 minutes cycle ride of homes.
  • In Brighton, for example IWG is opening 20 separate office developments, spread around the city, to meet this need.
  • Many offices will be in former banks and retail units, making use of properties left empty and providing an income for landlords.  Transition into a new office, due to an extensive design template, can take as little as two weeks – providing an immediate solution.
  • More here.

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