As the Office Market Rebounds, We Must Resist Groupthink | Overview

The “flight to quality” is well established, with Savills reporting that 77% of the spaces on offer are either newly renovated, developed or in preparation. We see active competition for the best product and rental premiums paid for the best space in the best locations.

AstraZeneca’s move to King’s Cross has given us cause for optimism. Its 37,000 square foot UK headquarters (pictured) will combine key business functions under one roof, fostering in-person collaboration and innovation and putting it at the heart of London’s knowledge district, bringing it closer to partners, researchers and decision makers.

But what is the real future of the workplace? The office as the embodiment of corporate culture is increasingly important. It provides the opportunity to bring together the brand, values ​​and purpose of employees and create a sense of community internally and externally. We remember the importance and benefits of “knowledge centers” and know from talking to occupants that employees have a strong desire to reconnect and collaborate in person.

People expect more from their work environment than ever before. Locations with retail, bars and restaurants, as well as culture and learning opportunities, are more likely to thrive.

Passive enrichment – ​​whether through exciting street art or green parks – is fundamental to attracting and retaining talent in the workplace. This sits in the heart of the King’s Cross Estate and echoes the ethos of Brent Cross Town as a town 15 minutes away.

cross of kings astra zeneca

Even with the rise of busy places, people continue to work flexibly and dynamically. This cultural shift means companies can access a wider talent pool, ensuring greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Increased diversity translates to better business decision-making and is a surefire way to avoid falling into the “groupthink” trap.

Asset owners and managers need to foster a challenger mindset, recognize the inevitability of change and take advantage of it. The ability to adapt quickly to changing market conditions is fundamental. But “real” flexible working has brought its own challenges. With legal restrictions lifted, businesses must manage their response to the pandemic on an individual basis.

Those challenges aside, returning to the office is all about reconnecting. In the office, I almost need to set an out of office response to prioritize being online face-to-face, rather than being online most of the day.

We can get along online, but some tasks thrive on human interaction. Salesforce’s Trailblazer Ranch is an extreme example; staff visit a California forest, disconnect from technology, and build relationships in real time. This may be the future of the workplace.

Real estate has gone through a seismic shift over the past two years. But where there are risks, there are opportunities, and those who seize them, reject groupthink and recognize changing consumer needs will be the winners.

Helen Causer is Head of Office and Investments at King’s Cross

Jose C. Birney