Times are changing for office developments

Offices

The office landscape looks set to change dramatically over the next 20 years, according to a survey of over a hundred industry experts. Smaller, incremental developments will be the focus in the future — reversing the trend for large, speculative schemes and iconic buildings.

The survey by international multi-disciplinary consultancy hurleypalmerflatt of leading developers, occupiers and industry bodies predicts that the office of the future will be smaller, flexible and adaptable spaces — close to public transport and with advanced IT systems incorporated into the fabric of the buildings.

Although demand for office space is forecast to increase, funding shortfalls and economic uncertainty will continue to limit the number of large, speculative office developments. The survey indicates that economic uncertainty will lead to increasingly flexible and adaptable office space, according to 98% of respondents.

64% of respondents believe that there will be fewer large, speculative office developments and more incremental development.

Nearly as many respondents, 62%, believe there will also be fewer iconic buildings.

And 67% of respondents believe that most of the funding for office developments will still come from the UK despite the economic downturn.

Stuart Bowman, energy and sustainability director with hurleypalmerflatt, explains, ‘We are seeing a fundamental shift in office design as a direct consequence of the economic downturn, and the current uncertainty will have a major impact on the next generation of offices. ‘Occupiers are unable to commit to long leases and are increasingly demanding smaller, flexible and adaptable spaces better suited to the modern agile workforce. The future’s small and efficient, and not about iconic buildings or trophy assets.’

The survey also revealed that 92% of respondents think legislation is the key to reducing carbon. Concern about embodied carbon will focus attention on refurbishment as an alternative to new build — according to 50% of respondents. Many in the industry predict a drive to extend the life of existing offices, so refurbishment will be an attractive alternative to new build.

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