ISG Smart Series explores the global approach to office design

28 June 2018

ISG Smart Series explores the global approach to office design

Following the launch of our first Smart Series event, ISG once again welcomed leaders, experts and specialists from across the construction industry and beyond, for the second in the series of events.

The event provided a forum for panellists from across the legal, financial, technology, media and insurance sectors to tackle the global approach to office fit out, and the impact of office layout on workforce productivity.

A diverse panel of experts and guests discussed how office design has come to embrace a sense of community, and how businesses can integrate wellness, technology and variety into workspaces to the benefit of people and productivity.

Preconstruction director for ISG’s fit out business and chair of the event, Matt Hurrell, introduced TP Bennett’s Richard Beastall, who shared his thoughts on the importance of using office design to promote communities.

“25 years ago we were obsessed with measuring buildings, whereas now we measure people and their satisfaction and wellbeing,” he said.

"The future of office design is building a community – in the sense of location, workplace and client."

Richard discussed how embracing a sense of community is changing the face of office design and layout.

Canteens hidden away in dark basements are being replaced in favour of multiple catering options spread throughout the working environment, high-street style shops now grace the modern-day workplace and emphasis on biophilic design has become commonplace as we seek to make the places in which we work as comfortable, inspirational and creative as possible.

Office design is also bringing the fundamental components of its specific business to the forefront, as in the case of Spotify’s new offices, which feature an entertainment space that not only recognises its roots music industry roots, but serves as a tool to build community throughout the space.

An increased community focus has brought home-working into the workplace, with people increasingly geared towards a ‘life-work balance’, while more and more sectors are catching on to the importance of the benefits of promoting wellness throughout their buildings.

“People want the freedom to support their lifestyle, and are increasingly looking for a ‘life-work balance’, rather than a ‘work-life balance’,” said Richard.

“We’re seeing this trend reflected in office design. Landlords are rising to the challenge and building communities within their buildings by using clever food and beverage outlets, communal outside areas and flexible venue and lobby space, to name a few techniques.”

Sarah Bentley, programme manager of corporate real estate at the BBC, explained how the national broadcaster has taken on board feedback which highlights the links between people’s work surroundings and their mental health.

“A recent survey showed that the places people worked had a significant impact on their mental wellbeing, showing just how crucial incorporating wellness into office design is in terms of workforce happiness and productivity,” said Sarah.

The panel also explored the importance of ensuring variety in office design and balancing a combination of shared and quiet working spaces.

Clare Thomas, partner at international law firm, CMS, highlighted how its latest office design focussed on flexible working and the needs of the individual.

“The obvious place to start was with the people,” she said. 

“For us, creating a space that inspired agile working and flexibility through a fusion of collaborative and quiet working environments was vital to what we were trying to achieve, and for the productivity of our team. 

“It also removed the barrier of ‘presenteeism’, as our people no longer felt tied to their desks.”

What has been the most impactful change in office design? According to Richard Beastall, it’s the realisation that this is just the start.

“Everyone’s starting to become more aware of the endless possibilities of the office space,” he said.

For more information and to register your interest in future Smart Series events, visit ISG's dedicated Smart Series campaign page.