Facing the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, no fewer than 3.5 billion people were locked down to varying degrees in nearly 80 countries in the spring of 2020. From Canary Wharf in London to Frankfurt's Bankenviertel or Paris' CBD, all the large European business districts were deserted during the lockdown. The notion of working from home helped bring the meaning of office buildings to the heart of debates. Many countries today are questioning the relevance of the traditional office model and considering a method of organisation that emphasises decentralised working and the advantages it brings in terms of employee well-being and the environment. However, although the unavoidable working from home experience enabled a degree of business continuity, in particular due to digital tools, it seems utopian to imagine a company culture built over screens. The office building is today more essential than ever.

Do offices as we know them need to be reinvented again? What are the new roles of the company building? Full of interviews, analyses, concrete examples and the comparative viewpoints of international experts and professionals, the new TrendBook 'Offices: The Next Chapter' offers an insight into the thoughts of sector stakeholders and the implementation of an agile and resilient property strategy.   

Post-Covid offices: what analysis can be made about the company building?

To respond to the new aspirations of employees who place the work-life balance as well as their well-being at the top of the list, companies are rethinking the layout of workspaces, increasing services to occupants, adding new roles such as Hospitality Manager and implementing decentralised work solutions.

The health crisis – the starting point of a new work organisation?

The health crisis we are experiencing has accelerated the need for companies to be flexible and agile. This trend already existed, but has been exacerbated after lockdown and led to office buildings once again being considered as a living space that everyone supports: employees, companies and investors.

We are seeing a paradigm shift and anticipate that in this post-Covid era, companies led by caution want to convert their fixed costs into variable costs. This may be the reason for the new advent of coworking, but in another form. Coworking was initially a factor of transgression for companies who wanted to be cutting edge in attracting their talent. Today, it has become a factor of rationality to meet this demand for flexibility expressed by users. Companies are keen to benefit from greater agility from their workspaces... to their leases.

Pascal Mikse
Pascal Mikse
Director Research Belux

Workspaces at the heart of change

Although the impact of Covid-19 on the organisation of workspace within companies is indisputable, it does not however call into question the importance of workspaces. And with good reason, as we are social animals and the health crisis has amplified the relational role of the office and revealed spontaneous intelligence even more. According to the recently published YouGov/Otka study, more than half of the people interviewed (57%) even acknowledged having missed talking to their colleagues. On the importance of physical contact, Robin Dunbar, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford concludes that it "is part of the mechanism we use to set up our relationships, friendships and family memberships".