What do you need from your workspace in 2023?

Our team explore the issues shaping the office of tomorrow

The working world never stands still, and whether you’re a sole trader or a household name, keeping up with the pace of change can sometimes feel daunting.

To help navigate the road ahead, we’ve drawn on TOG’s hive-mind and asked five of our team members to share their insights into the evolution of the workplace next year. From talent-attracting perks to sustainable design decisions, these are the things to build your business around in 2023.

1. Inclusive spaces

By Fidel Saenz de Ormijana, Senior Architect

Everyone wants to be able to work in different ways, and it's rare to have days where whole teams are in the office at the same time. Now it's about having meeting rooms that have the best technology and acoustics, and creating more spaces like phone booths, where people can have private conversations. We do a lot of this already, but will be making more of it next year.

We’ll also be investing heavily in wellness in 2023. We’re designing spaces that can work as prayer rooms, parents rooms and places to meditate. The Snug in Borough Yards – a place to switch off – has been really popular, so we’re listening to members and developing this concept further. Even down to providing discreet entrances, so you don’t have to enter and exit these rooms in front of all your colleagues.

We’re also starting to place an emphasis on neurodiversity. We’re working with a consultant on our R8 development in Kings Cross to accommodate these needs. It might be that we stay away from bold colours and patterned materials, or move away from open-plan office designs for certain people. I’m excited to learn more about this.

2. Flexible thinking

By Kitty Lee, Enterprise Lead

The push on flexibility is still going to be at the forefront of 2023. I think companies are really keen to get teams into the office, but gone are the days of seas of desks and being at the office nine to five, Monday to Friday. Clients would also like their staff to want to be in the office, so they are looking at giving them a space they’ll enjoy. So, if there’s a gym on site, for example, or the office is in a location that is really close to good pubs and restaurants, then more people will want to come in more often.

Really, it’s about not just giving employees a beautiful place to work, but also a space where they’re being looked after. We’ve taken on feedback from our clients and in turn developed our gym offering to be more inclusive, with The Black & White Building being the first to open a wellness-specific gym, offering yoga, pilates and breathwork classes for our members.

Another huge focus for 2023 is Environmental, Social and Governance standards (ESG). Having The Black & White Building as part of our platform has been incredible here, and Chancery House is another great example of sustainable development in action.

3. Sustainable choices

By Katrina Larkin, Chief ESG Officer

With so much media coverage and public debate, it’s impossible not to be concerned by the effects of climate change. Sometimes it feels hard to understand how we’ll overcome the business challenges associated with the disruption coming our way. From 2023, I think businesses that don’t bring sustainability into the core of their company’s strategy have little chance of long-term success – never mind growth.

To future-proof our clients, we launched our first ESG department in 2022, to show the people who work in our buildings that we're truly committed to long-term sustainable businesses and buildings. It’s about sharing information and transparency – this is the one area where it's not about being competitive.

We want to hold our clients’ hands and guide them through 2023 and beyond, bringing confidence to them that we are committed to positive change. We’re already dealing with reducing carbon emissions and are considerate of what we purchase. By being part of the larger workspace, you can be a part of a community that is making a difference.

4. Fuss-free customisation

By Nick Corbyn, Chief Design & Development Officer

For us, 2023 is about building on TOG’s world-class foundations to continue to understand and anticipate our clients’ needs better. They don’t just want beautiful spaces – they want spaces that also perform physically. This means great sound insulation in rooms, for example, so no one can hear you in the room next door, excellent in-room acoustics when you’re on a formal Zoom call, and lighting in call rooms that doesn’t backlight you like a 1980s Kate Bush album cover.

We also learned in 2022 that large-scale office spaces require customisation. When clients invest in large workspaces, they inevitably want to make changes and personalise their new office. It’s a bit like telling the chef how you want your Chateaubriand done (or Whopper, if you’re me). For us to create bespoke spaces quickly, economically and repeatedly over the lifecycle of our buildings requires flexible spaces to be set up very deliberately on day one.

In 2023, we’ll continue to focus on strategies that include bulkheads to allow future partitions and internal meeting rooms without dicing up the mechanical services on the ceiling, and having enough fresh air for the most cellularised floorplan where possible.

5. Growth opportunities

By Maria Melloni, Director of Talent

In the wake of the pandemic, people are still reconsidering their relationship to work, and what they want to get out of the working world. I think career development and mobility within a company will be very important in 2023 – people want to develop their skills, and employers will need to support this if they want to attract and retain talent.

Businesses also need to be mindful of how they create the right package and growth opportunities for staff. There are only so many pay rises you can give – particularly in the current climate – so what are the other ways you can you help your staff to grow? Smart employers will offer more than competitive compensation, they’ll provide up-skilling and training for their teams, too.

A focus on flexibility at work is also increasingly important. Talent expects more flexible work patterns to adjust and combine with their personal lives. Employers need to consider how they can offer flexibility and think about ways of working to support this. By this, I don’t just mean remote working – more that the traditional nine-to-five doesn’t work for everyone.

The most important thing is to ask people what they want. It’s about listening and creating initiatives that suit their needs.