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Flexible workspaces will be what attracts talent, energises districts and drives efficiency as the workforce as we know it evolves before our very eyes. Recent changes in workspace design are profound and probably irreversible. In a panel discussion at the Urban land institute’s ULI Asia Pacific Summit this month business leaders, real estate developers and brokers discussed the drivers and consequences of the rapidly evolving modern office.
“The key from what we’re seeing from a tenant trend point of view is that not every tenant is the same. There is no generic right answer to how they operate, to how they use their space,” said Neil Anderson Director and Head of Office, Hong Kong for HongKong Land Limited. “They’re all very different in the way they occupy their space, for different reasons. The trend we’re seeing is that office space is an experience. We’re seeing that more and more with the design of space. Functionality is one thing but the experience of going to work is changing and tenants are changing that through their fit out and their organisations and how they operate and break silos down in many cases.”
Amenities were talked about as key drivers of the future of office space. As well as a trend toward increased health and wellness facilities at work. “We’re seeing two very distinct drivers for moving towards an agile work model,” said Nina James General Manager, Corporate Sustainability at Investa. The first she says is efficiency and the other is talent retention. In Hong Kong where talent retention is a key for successful organisations, tenants are looking towards their offices to do that.
If you’re trying to attract the best talent says, James, they want to see things like yoga lunch classes, on-site nutritionists, meditation classes and child care. Landlords need to go beyond proving a great event space but have a cater and full concierge to help businesses attract the top echelon of talent. “If you need someone to pick up your dry cleaning or buy tickets for a show, we are now operating like a hotel,” said James.
Hotdesks, remote working, co-working and flexibility have become the norm but what’s next asked moderator Peter Weingarten, Regional managing principal for Gensler Asia Pacific. “Will technology determines how we work.”
“Now technology is used as a tool to do your work,” said Jun Nepomuceno Managing Director, Asia Pacific Head, Global and Real Estate for JP Morgan.“But probably going forward, its technology that will determine how you work.”
The one thing that is non-negotiable for the future of workspaces is innovation and workplaces need to support that innovation.