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London Office Return To Work – Hybrid Model For London Office Fit Out

In a previous article “London Office Fit Out Trends In 2021” we looked at how many London businesses were looking to the future to determine how best to utilise their office space in 2021 to address how they can provide a safe working environment and ensure flexibility in their office moving forward and came to the conclusion that the need for safe London office space will continue to be important in 2021 and beyond and that a hybrid mix of remote and office work in the future was likely to become the norm.

Not long after we published the article above the Financial Times published an article entitled “Employers aim for hybrid working after Covid-19 pandemic” followed by an article by The Daily Mail “Will WFH go on forever? Firms say they’ll look at ‘hybrid models’ instead of sending all workers back to the office after Canary Wharf chief revealed ‘gradual’ return to desks will start from March 29”. These articles looked at the plans of numerous London based businesses for returning to the office once the lockdown was over.  Here are some examples of what they found:

  • JP Morgan’s co-President Daniel Pinto said: “Going back to the office with 100% of the people 100% of the time, I think there is zero chance of that. As for everyone working from home all the time, there is also zero chance of that. The rotational model [hybrid model] is the only thing that really makes sense. We’ll have to cater to the needs of particular functions… It has to be somewhat structured and well-thought through.”
  • A KPMG spokesperson explained: “The vast majority of our people will continue to work from home, but our offices remain open for those who have a business or wellbeing need.”
  • Virgin Media is looking at a “future ways of work” strategy, which they believe is likely to result in offices being adapted for hybrid working.
  • HSBC say the majority of their staff will continue to work from home. HSBC are looking at utilising a hybrid model of working in the future, even when Covid restrictions are eased.
  • The chief executive of Centrica who have over 15,000 office-based staff, said: “We won’t be back five days a week in the office and I certainly won’t. I will keep a mix of flexible working. It’s good for staff; it’s also good for customers.”
  • Cision UK Managing Director Tom Ritchie said: “Our office has been ready since summer 2020, the safety of our staff comes first. As London opens for business, we’ll be considering the travel required by employees, their home circumstances and overall welfare. As such, we’ll be providing staff the option to continue to work from home or begin with reduced days in the office whilst we assess the long-term strategy. Our aim is to create an environment that puts the focus on work life balance whilst also recognising that some staff miss the social interaction and the creative brainstorming of being in the office.”
  • The NatWest Group currently have 50,000 employees working from home. They say that when staff do return to the office there will still be an element of home-working involved.
  • Standard Chartered will continue to follow Government advice but will be moving to a permanent hybrid working pattern which will be announced in November.
  • Lloyds Banking Group have plans to carry out of hybrid working trials in late spring, involving thousands of its staff.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is looking at a hybrid model of working for its 22,000 UK staff even after the pandemic has passed.
  • Aon, a leading global professional services firm is looking at what the future of work will look like and believe it will involve a hybrid model of working from offices, home and other locations.

London Office Fit Out and Refurbishment In the Foreseeable Future

It’s clear that a hybrid working model is likely to play a major role in London office fit out and refurbishment into the foreseeable future.

We’ve written about what we believe will be the future trends in London office fit outs in previous articles: London Office Fit Out Trends In 2021 and Kent and London Office Interior Design Ideas For 2021 in terms of how to address your office workspace to make it hybrid ready – but it’s worth briefly recapping them here:

Adaptability: your office will need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances as easily as possible. To this end you should consider making your office furniture as light as possible and easily movable. Modular, multifunctional furniture that can be taken down and moved around as required will provide the much needed flexibility. You should look to incorporate multipurpose screen dividers which can offer flexibility and longevity e.g. living walls and plant wall dividers, storage walls, flexible partitioning and “write on” walls that can be used for brainstorming but can also be easily moved to where they are required.

Technology: Accommodating hybrid working by incorporating the appropriate technology will be vital. Video conferencing technology should therefore be at the forefront of any London office fit out and key to maintaining good communication and collaboration with staff inside and outside the office. Your office design should look to accommodate this technology in an unobtrusive way but which still allows it to be easy to access and to use. Staff must be able to work and to “connect” no matter what part of the office space they are working so good WiFi coverage is important. Having portable power and power integrated furniture will also mean staff can “plug in” and start working wherever they need to.

Ventilation: The law says employers must make sure there’s an adequate supply of fresh air (ventilation) in enclosed areas of the workplace. Heating, ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) systems should be set to “maximise fresh air and minimise or eliminate recirculation.”

How Can We Help?

JBH Refurbishments have over 30 years experience in Kent and London office design and fit outs. To find out how we can help you design your hybrid Kent or London office space to the highest standards contact us via our contact form or by calling us on 0333 207 0339.

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