Talking Points: Colin Allan of Morgan Lovell on the future of workplace design


Colin Allan, MD of Morgan Lovell, responds to several of the discussion points raised in the Future of Workplace Design virtual roundtable hosted by FX and Nulty


Words by Colin Allan, MD of Morgan Lovell
 

It was a pleasure to check in on the Youtube recording of FX and Nulty’s Future of Workplace Design roundtable.

The professional insights delivered by inspirational thought leaders from many aspects of our industry were graciously hosted by FX editor Theresa Dowling and Nulty founder Paul Nulty.

My attention was particularly drawn to some passionate threads of conversation and lessons learned from Covid-19, which I believe will be reflected in business leaders’ thinking and embedded in our workplaces for many years.

Firstly, there’s the crucial issue of the future of the office. Video-conferencing platforms have enabled us to emerge relatively successfully from enforced homeworking, often against all odds. Cushman & Wakefield’s Amy Cooper rightly drew attention to the financial sector’s ability to adopt agile working, regardless of its highly secure and technologically demanding work environment.

However, as was echoed throughout the panel, this virtual world will never replace the profound value of ‘social capital’. Our accelerated adoption of certain technology will contribute to shaping the workplace, but the 2020 lessons have truly magnified our need for face-to-face collaboration and spontaneous interactions. The office will never be replaced, but it will indeed be reimagined.

In the process of reimagining, we will repeatedly return to the fact that one size will not fit all. A vast spectrum of working styles and cultural twists will continue to be the essence of what makes businesses unique and exciting.

As suggested, multifunctional buildings may have a role to play in repurposing spaces but I believe this will be on hold until we are able to feel safe controlling our own environments, within our own teams. Some businesses will consider relocating out-of-town, but there will be a balance to be struck against the desires of different generations.

The most prominent theme that emerged from the virtual roundtable related to business leaders needing to listen to their people. Whilst the views expressed were all incontestable, I and my colleagues at Morgan Lovell feel strongly that the learning must extend beyond today to the future generation. Our universities offer state-of-the-art 24/7 learning facilities and unrivalled amenity spaces. This must be the sounding board that feeds the future design of our working environment – physically, technologically and philosophically. As stated by the panel’s participants, we must challenge our embedded nine-to-five routine in order to appeal to the up-and-coming workforce.

As industry leaders we are in a privileged and exciting position to initiate healthy conversations about the future of the workplace’. Image Credit: © Paul Cooper Photography
As industry leaders we are in a privileged and exciting position to initiate healthy conversations about the future of the workplace’. Image Credit: © Paul Cooper Photography

Physically, the reimagined office needs to become a destination. One that pays great attention to wellbeing, nurtures healthy mindsets and supports a flexible lifestyle that makes workers happy.

As industry leaders, we are in a privileged and exciting position to initiate healthy conversations about the future of the workplace. We should increase our focus on consultation and collaboration with our clients, and in so doing both parties need to maintain an open mind.

Together we must check objectives, double-check decisions, and ask challenging questions of the status quo.

Stimulating debate and formative discussions are generating positive energy around the future of workplace design and the impact this will have on lives and businesses.

I look forward to the next Nulty/FX panel forum.








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