March 27, 2015
In its 26th year, the colossus conference that is MIPIM was back in full flow. With 93 countries were present, 4, 500 investors and 22, 000 registered delegates there were numerous developments presenting opportunities around the world. And crucially, there were more people apparently buying than selling, meaning that strong investment activity will follow. A dumbfounding prediction from property agent Cushman & Wakefield, that global real estate investment could rise 11% to 1.2 trillion euros – an indication of just how much healthier the market is. However, the renewed positivity isn’t simply a return to the ‘good times’, it is apparent that the pain the recession brought in 2008 hasn’t been forgotten and we are seeing a revised formula for property that includes sustainability, collaboration and – crucially – people.
It doesn’t mean that that investors have all turned philanthropic in their approach and have decided they do not need a financial return but the occupier has dictated that other factors are just as important.
An absolute stand-out presentation was the “Future Workstyles and Future Workplaces in the City of London” a report published by the City of London Corporation and the City Property Association. The reports examines the characteristics of the City’s evolving workforce and trends in the office space requirements, how changing needs can be met in order to remain a world leading location for businesses and workers.
The impact of technology has led to a concomitant change in office design, as occupiers look for more flexible space. 18 percent of Central London jobs are located in the City of London. The City’s economy is robust and therefore well-placed for growth over the next 10 years. However, employment growth will not necessarily translate in to greater space demands – which is where things get interesting because the space an organisation has becomes a vital business and communication tool and potential shop window.
A combination of technology and diversity in occupying sectors in the City, is leading to a requirement for more dynamic space that is focused on task orientated work settings. Correspondingly, the office is increasingly used as a powerful conveyor to communicate the values and culture of organisations which means the design of working environments will become even more important.
The overarching themes in the research include flexibility and adaptability; choice and experience; agility and connectivity; and permeability. In many ways this merely confirms what the design community has known for a long time but the relevance of this discussion at a property conference is that real estate professionals now also recognise that increased densities, flat corporate structures and an ‘access all areas approach’ impacts greatly on tenancy requirements and must be reflected in lease arrangements.
Gill Parker, Managing Director of BDG architecture + design, welcomes this transition: “To elevate the conversation around beyond the numbers is heartening. This presentation on workstyles and workplaces– developed by respected members of the workplace industry – was incredibly well attended which demonstrates the importance of the topic to the Real Estate Community”
Anna King is a freelance writer and marketing and PR consultant. www.informare.co.uk