JS: For this publication we have interviewed various developers in Sydney, and they have outlined the difference in how they use the ground plane of an office building compared with London. Those differences centre less on security and more on creating a public space. Do you think London should adopt more of this?
JL: The answer to that question is quite context-specific. In different parts of London and in different circumstances, integrating an office building into the wider community can be more or less important or appropriate. In general, our approach to the office lobby is much more akin to a boutique hotel lobby. Our aim is to make the lobby a public space, and that’s about creating an amenity space for our tenants but also an amenity space that can be accessed by the public. A lobby is a way to activate a building and create a sense of place and a piece of culture that reflects the spirit of the building.
JS: Sydney has been described to me as five years ahead of London in office design. I’ve been told the flexible workspace and activity-based working phase is over, and instead people want their own space and solitude to do complex thinking. Are you seeing that in London?
JL: If you go back ten years, there was a very formulaic way that offices worked. Everyone had their own desks, and senior management had their own rooms. In the last six to seven years, we have seen this fundamental revolution where co-working, flexible working and activity-based working have all completely altered and radically reshaped what the office looks like and how it functions. We have gone from one very rigid model 180 degrees to a completely different way of working. My view is that there are merits of both of these models, and the co-working revolution has pushed organisations to move further into that field than maybe they are comfortable with. We are now seeing companies naturally gravitate back towards somewhere in the middle of the two models. Therefore, what the office will look like in two to three years is much more of a balance between individual space and flexible space.
This post was extracted from Exchange, Make’s new thought leadership series which explores some of the challenges and trends that the property industry is encountering. Issue No. 1 in the series looks at the workplace and is available to read and download.