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2023 recap - The year of evolving landscapes, amenity-rich design and longer-term thinking

Reflecting on our top 10

What. A. Year. 

As December draws to a close we pivot into reflection and planning mode; looking back on the past 12 months and ahead to the next. So, what better time to recap what worked, what didn’t, and what we’re excited about as we turn the corner into 2024. 

Pour yourself something mulled (we won’t tell the boss - even if you are one) as we unpack 10 highlights and learnings from the year, and how this can not just inform but also future-proof your office strategy into 2024 and beyond.

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1 // The ever-changing landscape

Now… This isn’t just relative to 2023, but the lines between flexi, managed and leased office spaces have merged a lot, and the landscape is incredibly different to what it was 12 months ago.  

Diversification of space has grown to a stage where the ability to match a company’s specific needs is more accessible than ever, thanks to design-led approaches, flexibility of terms and top-tier amenities, and is becoming increasingly more common with provider’s and asset owner’s offerings.

Ultimately, when it comes to your office you can push for whatever you like; it’s up to us to work around you and find the solution for what works best. 

Not to mention, the hospitality effect on the industry has only increased the partnership-focus between businesses and providers even further. 

2 // Amenity-rich, or not at all 

Amenity-rich spaces are having a moment.

Not only are they massively in demand, they’re also selling themselves. Over the past 12 months we’ve seen a huge push for amenity-rich spaces from clients; something translating into how providers and asset owners create and design spaces, too. 

On-site gyms, dedicated recharge rooms, restaurants and terraces are just some of the best-in-class amenities now becoming standardised across providers’ portfolios, responding to the growing demand from businesses. Some buildings even dedicate a large chunk of their floor space to these initiatives, showing a growing trend in relation to employer wellbeing. 

Remember what we said about hotelification? We’ve seen less of ‘That’s a nice to have’ and more of ‘This is essential for us to encourage team collaboration’ (more on that shortly!) this year. 

Watch this space - it’s showing no sign of slowing down.

3 // Purpose-driven environments

We witnessed a massive uplift in interest across energy usage reports, sustainable design and BREEAM certifications in 2023, and this requirement for green practices is something we’d only expect to see more of come the New Year.

A rise in providers with B Corp certification paired with the requests of green credentials means sustainability is fast-becoming a key part of the decision-making process. Businesses (and their teams) are becoming conscious of their environmental impact, taking measures to ensure they can reduce their footprint. 

But, sustainability translates outside of all things eco, too. Residing in a purpose-driven environment ranked high on the agenda this year and goes hand-in-hand with attracting the latest generation of talent within the Millennial and Gen Z age groups. 

The marriage of sustainability and social concepts is a hugely positive outcome for the future of where you work. 

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4 // Going global 

Who doesn’t love that jet-setting life? In 2023 we secured perfect working spots for clients in Sydney, Doha, NYC and Dublin amongst others. In addition to an increase in working with international providers, location-specific patterns are also emerging. 

The UK is ahead of the game in the flexible market compared to New York and other European hotspots, but India - specifically Bangalore and Hyderabad - is on hyperdrive. 

When Kontor’s Sam Dawson headed there a couple of months back, he witnessed huge developments teamed with forward-thinking design and strategic elements. Client-first, amenity-rich and diversity amongst workspace styles; the only con appears to be a lack of transport infrastructure, something which likely won’t stay on the backburner for long. 

5 // Quality design 

Published at the end of Q2, Slack’s 2023 State Of Work Report indicated that 22% of respondents feel that excessive workplace chaos hinders productivity. 

One way to tackle this is via high quality workspace design, and companies of all shapes and sizes - especially growing brands - are heavily investing in this now more than ever. Remarkable quality offices are on the rise, with the past 12 months being no exception. Providers are aiming to provide spaces which allow teams to work in a dynamic way to best suit them, combined with first class service and a focus on wellness and sustainability; something backed up by The Office Group becoming part of Fora.

6 // Inclusivity matters 

Offices which pander to the one size fits all mentality are a thing of the past. 

With the majority of companies comfortably embedded into a hybrid way of working, anywhere you conduct your day job needs to be designed with inclusivity at the forefront to cater to a variety of individual needs.

Some might find the bustling office environment a little too overwhelming or distracting, so opting for quiet zones where people can conduct deep work is an aspect more teams are leaning towards and more providers and asset owners are incorporating.  

As more businesses push to implement a specific number of ‘anchor’ days in the office, it’s vital for individual needs to be taken into account, as not everyone will work the same. Remember, proactively seeking feedback from the team is only going to benefit everyone in the long-run.

Take time to pause, reflect and listen to what others are saying, and be clear on what’s working (and what isn’t) to help inform decisions and draw efficiencies around costs and resources. 

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7 // A tool for collaboration and communication

On average, 90% of our clients request phone booths and separate meeting rooms within their briefs, a trend which snowballed during 2023, and one providers are actively addressing within office design. 

In a hybrid world, seamless communication is a must-have for teams spanning multiple sites or catering to global teams. 

Newer offices will have 2-3 private phone booths and meeting rooms per floor, and as a general rule of thumb, one of each will usually accommodate a 20-person office. However, some of our Tenant Advisory Team have witnessed the retro-fitting of phone booths into older spaces, as demand continues to rise.

8 // Optimal space 

Compared to the years immediately following the pandemic, many are becoming accustomed to how much space is required after months of testing and learning. 

Opting for a larger office doesn’t automatically mean cramming it full of desks, it’s about using the space to its full potential. Sometimes that’s a focus on maximum break-out space, other times it’s choosing to utilise it for creative means, like studio space.

We’ve also seen examples of clients within managed offerings who want their own private office, but still prefer access to other communal spots within the building. 

As with many things in the ever-evolving world of offices, size and use of the space is a completely unique part of the brief, but 2023 has definitely surfaced some patterns across how space is being used, and will continue to be so. 

Still not certain about what you need? No stress! We’re here for any questions, any time 👋

9 // Nurturing a return to the office 

Creating an appealing space can mean the difference between a team feeling excited about spending more time in the office, and feeling reluctant to. 

In a nutshell, companies are understanding the importance of quality office space. When out and about on viewings this year, many of the team have witnessed many whispers of ‘The design studio would love this!’ or ‘I can really imagine the project managers collaborating in this area’, and when conducting interviews with Boldspace and iChoosr as part of our Spotlight on… series earlier this year, both cited investing in a quality office was a key part of encouraging the team back in.

Many clients who are planning a rebrand or period of hiring following a growth spurt use the office as a point to launch this - After all, conducting an interview in a dull office? Red flag. 

Even remote-first businesses use their offices to aid culture. During our recent panel with Venture’s Together, Monzo reflected on how despite being a remote-first business, they still invested in office space to cement a hub in which the team could recharge, connect and collaborate. 

10 // Playing the long game 

We’ll keep this final one short but sweet: The office is fast-becoming a longer-term strategy.

From startups to global brands, companies of all sizes are reassessing their workplace strategies, choosing to work with reputable providers and pushing for transport links, exceptional amenities and quality of space. 

As businesses evolve, the spaces in which they occupy should, too, and embracing these learnings amongst some of your own could mean the difference between a functional workspace and a progressive, transformative one for 2024. 

Now, the mince pies are calling, we’ll see you in the new year! 

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