The office of the future 

January 3, 2017

Breaking the mould is essential, says commercial property writer Chris Dobson

Creating ‘cool’ office space can and should reflect a company’s culture.

Company owners are increasingly understanding that putting emphasis on creating an aesthetically inviting workplace can generate a sense of pride for employees and importantly is significant in attracting top talent to their business.

After all, people are the most valuable asset to a business and recruitment and retention of talented staff is not just about the benefits package, says Patrick Matheson, partner at office agency Knight Frank.

Having an office that is both an inspiring and enjoyable place to work is now a critical, cost-effective way to successfully attract the most talented employees. Depending on how the workplace is designed, it can offer a host of benefits for employees such as an area with video games that gives everyone a chance to break-out and not focus on work for a little while, or a meeting area that’s filled with colour and interesting structures which could help stir up employees’ creative juices.

Humans are a social breed of animal and need places to meet for collaboration and connections with clients and colleagues. Those meeting places are fast becoming closer in look, feel and comfort to where we live, rather than where we work.

Cool office spaces tend to be more common among tech companies. Why? It’s a part of that industry’s culture. And given the intensity around recruiting, tech companies often come up with a myriad of ways to attract top talent to their companies.

One way of achieving this is by creating an inviting workplace. This is happening right now in Newcastle where the demand for trendy office space is increasing sharply. And listed building status is not an obstacle to re-designing work space.

For example, Earl Grey House, on Newcastle’s Grey Street, is undergoing exciting refurbishment thanks to the vision of the Regional Office Property Unit Trust managed by Schroder Real Estate. By focusing on the 7500 sq ft third floor, the building is going to provide a very modern environment without suspended ceilings and will incorporate exposed ducting and M&E services, together with architectural lighting.

Major work is also being carried out on the entrance and ground floor reception to further enhance the sense of arrival and create an impressive space for all occupiers in the building to enjoy. The work is due to be completed in April 2017.

There are several other examples such as Live Works, which has recently been let in its entirety to ZeroLight, the pioneering visualisation company. The four storey, 15,000 sq ft office building, designed by architects Flanagan Lawrence, finally completed the ‘missing gap’ in the façade of Newcastle’s Quayside.

Live Works has created cutting edge office space, combining a heritage setting with modern technology.

Similarly, Hanro is creating outstanding office space at 53-57 Blandford Square. The building is currently undergoing a shell and core refurbishment and when complete in January 2017 will provide creative office space, emphasising the original character features of the building, including exposed brickwork, polished concrete floors and exposed ceilings. The ‘defurbishment’ nature of the specification has proven very popular with occupiers despite the refurbishment works not yet being complete.

These examples show how our future offices must break the mould if organisations want to attract the best and keep their workforce. This can only be achieved by creating space that their staff will want to

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