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The Future of Offices – Webinar with ISG, Colliers and Gensler

Harry Tettinger, Director Operations at ISG Germany, spoke at an industry webinar organised by the consultancy RUECKERCONSULT about the prospects for the office property market.

Together with Dr Tobias Dichtel, Co-Head of Market Intelligence & Foresight Germany at Colliers, and Astrid Eberle, Project Director at Gensler, Harry Tettinger shed light on the question of how offices can be made fit for the future and what role interior fit-out plays in this.

Between ageing and falling demand for office space 

Up to 69 per cent of German office properties in the top 7 cities are threatened by obsolescence. The urgent need for modernisation poses a huge challenge for the property sector - both logistically and financially. New buildings cannot meet the growing demand for modern, ESG-compliant office properties that meet New Work standards. Extensive refurbishments are in demand.

At the same time, employees' expectations of their working environment have risen dramatically. The feel-good factor, the technical infrastructure and, last but not least, the location play a decisive role in the choice of employer. Companies must position themselves optimally in the "war for talents".

The pandemic has triggered another fundamental change: the widespread introduction of working from home. The majority of market players agree that working from home for one to two days a week will be the new norm, meaning that the overall space requirement will remain lower than before the pandemic.

To summarise: the work and office landscape is currently undergoing the most radical change in decades. 

"Employees like to come to the office if they like the interior"

Harry Tettinger

This is why the interior fit out of office properties is booming. Regardless of the industry - whether banks, pharmaceutical or tech companies - employers are moving in the direction of the new world of work in order to make it more attractive for employees. This is also reflected in the company's success, as our study "The Power of Place" shows: Employees are more productive in offices that they rate as "good". Customer satisfaction also increases and innovative strength and employee loyalty are positively influenced in comparison to workplaces that are rated as "not good".

The aim should not only be to acquire new employees, but also to retain existing ones. In concrete terms, this means designing offices in such a way that they are fit for the future. ESG plays no small role in this.

"At the moment, the 'E' in particular is in demand from our customers in order to obtain the relevant certifications in this context" 

Harry Tettinger

This is not only an important factor for employees, but also for the customers of the respective tenants. Tettinger continues: "We are therefore looking closely at the questions: What material is used and how is it utilised? Can it be fed back into the value creation cycle as part of the revitalisation?" 

Wood is the material of choice. For the acoustic design, for example, wall and ceiling panels are made of wood and the building material is also used for the furniture. "Warm tones create the feel-good atmosphere that many employees want from their workplace," explains Tettinger.

Many companies shy away from investing in office space for cost reasons, among others. However, the results of our study "The Power of Place" show that this is worthwhile in the long term: companies that neither invested in their office space nor enabled flexible working in 2022 recorded an increase in turnover of 0.5 per cent, while the turnover of companies that both invested and enabled flexible working increased by 23.5 per cent.

Office real estate in transition

The availability of skilled labour in the future must be taken into account when planning the appropriate use of office properties. In our study "Rethinking the skills conundrum", we analysed data on properties under construction and in planning for the UK as an example and used this to determine the future demand for skilled workers. Smart strategies are needed to remedy and prevent the shortage rf skilled labour. One example is investing in further training for suppliers instead of looking for new employees for a specific area of work.

Watch the full webinar below

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