In a giant pot of speculation, research and human behaviour, conversations regarding the future of the built and unbuilt environment abound, and expert viewpoints are varied.
To some, the future of workplaces seems questionable, and yet across London, some of the city’s largest projects are under construction. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, office space of over 15 million square feet is about to be birthed. This sentiment, perhaps fuelled by vaccine-optimism, saw more planning applications for the City of London in November than it did the previous year – pre-pandemic.
And so the dialogue ranges across an uncertain spectrum. From the death of the office, to how our meanwhile spaces will change our future spaces, history, which proves that cities are made to survive, also insists on being heard.
The Death of the Office: Phraseology or Truth?
Apocalyptic-type scenes in cities all over the world make the death of the office a plausible conversation. Add to this, even further research by Deloitte, which states that up to 72% of UK employees would prefer to work remotely in the future.
Evidence for this view is underscored by giants like Google which has extended its work-from-home policy until July, while Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2030, the number of people working remotely will have doubled.
And with the current commercial letting market in London currently reflecting all of this, memories of post-war office conversions into low-cost housing solutions are on one end of the continuum, while optimistic visionaries operating at the luxury end of the market, are eyeing glass towers through fresh eyes.
Facts, research and speculation aside, we are informed by Peter Rees, former chief planner of the City of London and current Professor of Planning at University College London, in an interview with the Guardian, that the Square Mile of London, having survived the Black Death, Great Fire and the Blitz, is likely to re-emerge stronger from the impact of Covid-19.
The Yearn to Return
So before we pack up for the country and remote seaside villages, we need to remember the great generational divergence that appears to exist when it comes to how, and where, we work, live and play. Most notably, a recent study by ISG showed that Generation Z, as well as Millennials, had suffered the most with remote working situations, even citing a 30% reduction in productivity as a result.
For those in this camp, the view is that people work better together, that trust remains the ingredient of teamwork that is only achieved in-person. These are the ones who long for the buzz even if they can live without the grind of the daily commute.
For architects, planners and developers, all of these factors present both a challenge as well as the opportunity to reimagine and create, yet-to-be-seen, exciting hybrids and more shared neighbourhood spaces.
In the words of Nicolas Bosetti, Research Manager at the Centre of London, “as we re-emerge from lockdowns, much of what we love about future places will be what we have trialled in the meanwhile places.”
How Can We Help You to Achieve this?
To add value to both existing and new clients, ThinkLab is offering preferential rates of 20%-off for April, May and June 2021. These could apply to imminent projects, or the securing of these rates for later in 2021, through your reduced deposit.