The market is changing - the institutional lease is fading and the institutional speciation needs to react but to do so needs a strong project lead, able to interrogate and identify the actual building usage and how that impacts on:
- The amount of fresh air required
- Lighting design
- Desk usage
- Overall floor capacity
The actual occupancy rate of an office if a building is fully occupied Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays, 9 – 5 with Working From Home Mondays and Fridays, represents 8 hours for 156 days per year. This equates to only 1,248 hours of a potential 8,760 hours of the year. 14% of the year!
Remember that the UK sees peak temperatures for around 20 / 30 days a year. We would not say a relaxation of dress code ( wear shorts) which will obviate the need for AC in the summer months. But working practices are changing and institutional investors have been slow to latch on to the opportunities in engineering design. Agents prefer simple numbers and aim to have a number that is the same or larger than a competing space. Professional indemnity insurance means that many engineers will not have the confidence to challenge the norm, unless asked to do so.
The impact of agile working, smarter working, working when you want where you want, is just beginning.
Agile working is a term used to describe flexible working and how it impacts on the design of office space. Where encouraged in a corporation, it is supposed to allow the worker to work remotely or attend the office when necessary. The net effect is meant to reduce the amount of office space required, by use of hot-desking, touch down spaces or break out spaces. In other words, reduce the number or at least the size of private desks and or private offices.
Laptops, tablets, and smartphones have all suggested this will be possible, but the real conundrum is how this will affect office design in the years to come. Humans love to interact, but how often do they need to interact at work given almost a day can be wasted commuting to and from work each week. How agile working will be adopted by the corporations and whatthe net effect on real estate demand will be seems to be a big unknown.
The UK government is just touching on this, and encouraging 'hubs' of touchdown space dotted around London. The reality at present: WFH tends to be Mondays and Fridays, leaving the issue of Tuesdays Wednesday and Thursdays i.e. The same capacity of desk space, empty on Mondays and Fridays and full occupancy midweek.
No doubt improved connectivity allows some of us to work when we want, where we want, and agile working could then shift the design of office space to homes ( private study) and the commute.