London at work: Creating an office environment for the future

The traditional office has certainly changed over the years. The average London worker now spends three more weeks a year at work than the rest of the UK, so businesses looking for a London office must consider the exact needs and requirements of that space both now and into the future.

So, what are some of the trends that will shape London office space for businesses over the next decade?

Layouts with zoning

Twenty-five years ago, the norm was large separate offices that allowed around 125ft of space per person.  As open plan offices became more popular, space per person decreased and the collaborative way of working we see today began to develop.

Offices that house different areas or zones for different functions are in demand.  Team work and collaboration are important, as is the provision of quieter work areas for reflection and relaxation.  Lego’s London HQ has zones designed to suit an employee’s activity or mood, including a quiet library, a buzzing social area and cosy corners with comfy chairs.  Hot desking is taken to a new level –  employees are required to take their belongings with them if they are away from a desk for more than an hour.

According to TNT’s ‘Office of the Future’ survey, 49% of consumers and businesses imagine a multi-functional work place as the office environment of the future, designed to be whatever is needed at the time.

Balance and well-being

Employee wellness is increasingly a priority and part of this is recognising that office décor not only reflects the company brand, but also impacts employee mental and physical health.  The trend of bringing the outdoor into the office with biophilic design has become popular over the last few years. Amazon, Apple and Google have been pioneers in adopting biophilic design in their offices to reduce stress and improve productivity, creativity and well-being.

According Atos’s report, ‘The Future of Work’, smart office technologies, such as wearables and mobile tech, will be increasingly used to not only encourage relaxation but also to monitor stress levels and encourage healthy habits during working hours.  To embrace this, companies may need offices that facilitate this in the not-too-distant future.

Twenty-four hour working

By 2020 experts predict millennials will make up 35% of the workforce, meaning that the future office will be shaped by a generation who’ve never experienced life without a smart phone and are used to working ‘any time of any day’.  As a result, the traditional nine to five may not suit them and businesses may need to review working hours, looking at policies such as 24-hour opening. Some forward-thinking companies, like customer experience firm Teleware, have even installed sleep pods in the office!

Work mixed with play

Many companies focused on retaining employees and attracting future talent recognise that company culture should extend into playfulness as a positive influence on creativity and motivation.   As the boundaries between work and leisure are blurring, these employers will provide a social outlet or area at work for letting off steam, chilling out and having some fun.Innocent Drink’s London HQ, affectionately known as ‘Fruit Towers’, has areas with fake grass, park benches, bunting and ping pong tables, whilst Ticketmaster boasts bright open spaces, a pinball machine, a juke box and a slide at its London office.

The world of work is continually changing and the physical surroundings and social interactions within the office are becoming increasingly important.  Businesses must carefully consider these aspects to ensure that they build an environment that supports the future health of the organisation and its workers.