How should London plan for its future workplaces?

13th October 2016

Helen Berresford was asked by New London Quarterly (NLQ)to tackle the subject of: How should London plan for its future workplaces? Helen discusses neighbourhoods of workplaces in her mini-essay (below) which is included in the Autumn issue of NLQ alongside comments from other leading voices from the world of workplace.

As corporate cultures become more complex, our workplaces become increasingly mercurial. We are currently working on three of the largest pre-lets requirements in London and it is clear that corporate workplace has moved away from static rows of task furniture; instead, offices are looking to weave together a range of amenities that blur the boundaries between live, work and play.

This doesn’t mean just putting a café in reception but treating the office as a mutually supportive neighbourhood: a place where a bank can work next to a start-up or somewhere a members club can be co-located with a blue-chip. This cooperative energy is transforming large developments from stacks of fixed floorplates to something that is outward-facing and much more aware of the world around it.

This civic quality will mean that workplaces will increasingly become living, breathing parts of a city and certainly London as a global centre. In turn, this will make it much harder to chart a neat future of workplaces in the capital, with so many social, cultural and regulatory twists that will shape how offices are formed. This will fundamentally mean that the future of offices is a flexibility that is in tune with offices’ much more integrated outlook.

I think in the near future will be talking less about standalone office blocks and more about office neighbourhoods formed from a network of engaged businesses. Once we saw the informal, social workspaces as the calling card of the tech start-up, with the bean bag as the ultimate gesture of a more horizontal, relaxed corporate culture. Now a varied range of agile work settings (omitting the bean bag) are high on the agenda of even the most traditional of sectors, all determined to adapt to the rapidly changing world around them and make their office work as hard as possible for them.

Helen Berresford RIBA

Partner, Head of ID:SR