New report by Arup and IPUT recommends a refreshed approach to office design to support new ways of working

Businesses, property developers and city authorities must act now to enable office workers to revitalise relationships with the workplace post-pandemic, says a new report.

The report, produced by Ireland’s leading property company, IPUT, and multinational consultancy firm, Arup, analyses the role of the office and how it can continue to support new ways of working.

With the dominance of monofunctional office buildings impacting the central business districts of our cities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report proposes a vision of how work could be better integrated with daily life. It recommends a new design practice on the edge of office buildings and in surrounding neighbourhoods, bringing together typically corporate and civic territories to recalibrate modern office culture.

Coining the term ‘workplacemaking’, the report proposes a new approach to the workplace of the future – revolutionising office buildings to go beyond being solely corporate environments to become spaces that contribute to the social, economic and environmental resilience of our towns and cities.

With 68% of typically office-based employees surveyed as part of this research saying that they want to work from home in the future at least some of the time, it is clear that the recent shift to agile working between home and the office is likely to be a permanent one.

Adopting a workplacemaking approach provides an opportunity to refresh office spaces and to enable flexibility for people to come together to tackle complex problems holistically and creatively.

Speaking about the report, Léan Doody, Europe Integrated Cities and Planning Leader at Arup, said: “We now recognise that workplaces offer unique experiences that are not available when working from home. Those experiences include social and cultural fulfilment as well as opportunities for learning and collaboration. Long-term planning and strategic investment in workplaces – centred around the report’s recommendations and typologies – has the potential to improve the working lives of today’s professionals and contribute to the development of sustainable cities.”

Successful workplacemaking requires a pact between developers, city makers and employers to be able to restore life to cities post-COVID-19, invigorate the working environment and, critically, make offices relevant to the future needs of workers and surrounding communities in the long term. The report identifies five different types of spaces that are essential to workplacemaking based on what employees are now seeking from office life.

Niall Gaffney, Chief Executive, IPUT Real Estate, said: “We are at a watershed moment, with only 11% of office workers reporting that they will revert back to a five-day office week post-pandemic. There is a clear need for companies, developers and city planners to rethink the design and uses of office neighbourhoods to ensure these spaces reflect the mindset of today’s more agile workforce. The real estate industry has a unique opportunity now to make positive changes to reassert the value of future workplaces to the social and economic fabric of our towns and cities.”

The report, ‘Making Place: The recalibration of work, life and place’, is available to download here.

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