Bringing life back to the city
In October, our UK CEO Steven Skinner joined the Estates Gazette’s Future of London panel to discuss the shifting needs and wants of employees in 2020. With more people working from home, less commuting and the introduction of smart technology, the pandemic has already transformed the real estate landscape and the question put to the panel was: what happens next?
Current estimates put only 10-15% of workers back in their offices in London’s CBD, and Argent’s Piers Nickalls says this isn’t about to change anytime soon. Whilst Dror Poleg, author of ‘Re-thinking Real Estate’ commented, over the “last 70 years, 100 years we have given too much of a role to offices in our urban planning. Offices are at the centre, they dominate the skyline, they define what the city looks like.” Steven says, of on the current situation “The biggest impact is that working styles have become democratised. It’s almost down to the individual person when they want to work, how they want to work and where.”
The panel agreed that the industry needs to understand how to embrace this change. Poleg explained that the key to cities surviving “depends on people actually being able to live affordably closer to offices that they can walk to or they can access easily. And being able to access the opportunities and joys that a city offers.”
What isn’t in doubt is that workspaces still have an important role to play in employee wellbeing, happiness and productivity. However Steven says the industry needs to be better at measuring this, utilising data and technology in order to ensure the maximum wellbeing and productivity of these spaces as people weigh up the benefits of working at home vs the office.
Real estate must become part of a solution which has been made more possible by this seeming catastrophe explained Poleg. “We have to use this opportunity to really listen to the individual, to give people the workspace, whatever that may be – an office, home, somewhere in between – that really supports them and their productivity. For the city, we have to make London as sustainable as possible and also increase the affordability of living and working in the city.”
We couldn’t agree more! If you’d like to see the full conversation you can check out the video here.