The post-covid office

The impact of Covid on our working practices has been well documented, and these significant changes are evident in the approach being taken by developers in planning new office space, as explored by Christopher Collet, Associate at Carter Jonas.

Related topics:  Planning,  Covid,  Office
Christopher Collet | Carter Jonas
17th April 2023
modern office 824

Our London Planning team recently secured planning permission on behalf of Barwood Capital to substantially refurbish and extend Eton House, a Grade A office building in the centre of Richmond upon Thames. The redesign focuses on health and wellbeing, energy efficiency and biodiversity. It targets a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’, and an EPC rating A, and amenities will include cycle parking and a gym, along with changing rooms and showers.

This scheme illustrates exactly how office development is changing in the post-Covid world and the fact that it gained the support of the local planning authority demonstrates how broadly that change is understood and appreciated.

Barwood Capital’s scheme is exemplary, but it is not unique. In fact, we anticipate that many similar planning applications will follow. Post Covid, businesses have demonstrated that they can operate effectivity with significantly reduced office space and ‘hybrid’ office/home working models. But it doesn’t follow that floorspace will reduce; it may simply be used to accommodate the high quality, vibrant spaces which assist with recruitment, retention and productivity – from break-out areas to spaces for a variety of health and wellbeing activities.

An increased appreciation of sustainable practices, another change accelerated by the pandemic, is also a feature of newly designed office spaces.

So as the future of towns – specifically in central locations such as this – is determined, considerations must take into account the need for flexible workplaces which are also sustainable, both in their design and proximity to public transport: in some cases, it is not simply the floorplate that must change to attract tenants, but the location will also be crucial.

Eton House, because of its close proximity to public transport links, represents the ultimately sustainable option in which the refurbishment and extension of an old-style office block can be adapted to create a more energy-efficient building because it removes the need for demolition and replacement.

So contrary to some of the speculation, there is no reason to assume that the quantum of office space will necessarily contract: it may serve a different purpose, achieve different goals and be more selectively located, but because it will remain necessary to inspire, encourage collaboration and achieve increasingly ambitious ESG goals, it is likely to be planned and developed differently.

More like this
Latest from Financial Reporter
Latest from Protection Reporter
to our newsletter

Join a community of over 20,000 landlords and property specialists and keep up-to-date with industry news and upcoming events via our newsletter.