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London’s offices need to modernise or risk getting left behind

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With the recent unveiling of the four-step plan from the Prime Minister and the novelty of working from home well and truly wearing off, attention is now turning to what we’d like to see when we are back in the office.


For many, working from home has brought with it benefits such as a quiet(ish) workspace for private conversations and focus time, no commute, and the ability to control the temperature of our home office. Whatever we previously thought the office was, has changed. This period of working from home has made people recognise what they like and dislike from the office. To ‘seduce’ people to come back it will be important that many of the benefits they enjoy at home are replicated in their old office space. For a start, facilities that will help encourage staff to continue walking, cycling and running as part of their everyday routine will prove popular.

In addition, access to fresh, clean air will be top of the priority list. The ability to open a window and ventilate space is a given at home but many offices rely on systems to pump air around the office, and many of these will need modernisation to be able to provide a good quality indoor environment. Tenants who are looking for new space will be attracted to the best in class, understanding that there is now more at stake than previously when it comes to facilities, air quality systems, and the technological features available from touchless interfaces to intelligent automation. Installing systems that continuously monitor air quality and ventilation can be an easy win for landlords. They can placate a lot of fears for occupiers returning to the office and help further boost the attractiveness of a space by reaching a goal such as gaining a RESET (Air) certification.

Ideally, ventilation systems should be dynamic, adapting to office density but this is rarely the case, so it’s important that landlords are aware of the options available to them and invest in the right technology. It is very much a case of modernise or die – those who don’t use this opportunity to ensure their assets are up to scratch are going to be left behind. To add fuel to the fire, the UK Government has hinted in the Future Buildings Standard consultation that air quality monitoring to reduce the transmission of airborne infections will likely come into effect in new offices (and other non-domestic buildings), so in acting now, landlords can futureproof their assets, save themselves a lot of expense down the line and compete with what it’ll soon become market standard.

While luring staff back from home is crucial, attracting new talent is also important. The office has long been a place where a company’s values are created, driven by collaboration, the creation of a shared culture and community. For prospective joiners the inclusion of these facilities and the sense of a shared values is only going to go up in the list of priorities; starting a new job is daunting in the first place, let alone when meeting your team over video calls.

Data is going to be king in the return to the office and a landlord who can demonstrate that they’re able to monitor and act on key metrics such as air quality, temperature and the density of staff, and communicate that to their tenants is going to fare far better than those who don’t.

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About the Author

Andres has over a decade of industry experience across different sectors as he leads the Colliers sustainability strategy in the UK & Ireland which focuses on improving ESG performance and managing associated risk at asset and portfolio level for a range of occupier and investor clients. To get in touch, contact Andres.Guzman@colliers.com.