With each passing month, we have found ourselves wondering ‘what’s next for our workspaces?’ Our sector has adapted to rapidly-changing challenges: three years ago, we had never contemplated the mercurial changes needed to enable people to come back into offices. In tandem, inflation and wildly unpredictable costs and delivery programmes have led to uncertainty on each project.

We’re learning fast about what office occupiers now understand about their requirements for workspaces, and whether their staff even need to be in offices at all. 

The majority of office occupiers are testing new ways of hybrid working and once this matures, we will have a clearer picture of the adaptations they will need to their workplaces. But how do we re-energise people’s experience of the office?

What we know is that what we create must be better than home and it is unlikely that everyone will return full time. 

Staff attraction and retention is critical – and many have returned with new expectations of flexibility; they are looking for hybrid working, shorter working weeks, better locations and smarter technology. The future workspace needs to provide choices of when, where and how people work.

New spaces need to function in a hybrid way to enable effective use on both physical and virtual levels. If the IT does not work this negatively influences staff motivation. Support systems are required to ensure a high standard regardless of location – inclusivity is key.

Businesses are learning how vital it is to provide strong reasons to come into the office, such as events and incentives. Many organisations are considering giving something back to employees that makes a difference such as Fridays off, an extra holiday for your birthday and free food. It’s important to connect the occupier’s staff and culture to the brand.

Other expectations are environmental, such as recycling furniture with new secondhand markets appearing.

Many occupiers have traditionally monitored use across their buildings by security pass data and general observations. However these metrics are now seen as meaningless with business performance more tangible. Knowing how to measure these outcomes however is challenging.

We’ve learned that people come to the office for six main reasons: collaboration, coordination, innovation, socialisation, negotiation and learning. Generally, the most autonomous staff are senior people, who are most likely to be comfortable working from home. Yet they have the most to offer younger staff and need to be encouraged to the office regularly to share knowledge.