On Thursday 25 June 2020 I joined Bisnow's webinar Rethinking Real Estate where we heard insight from John Burns and Simon Silver of Derwent London and Simon Allford of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris architects on the future of real estate.

Here are my 5 takeaway points:

1. The office is not dead. Despite reports to the contrary, the office is alive and well. The rise of the internet and home computing was predicted to kill the office in the 90s, but actually made it more important; the threat of working from home will be met in the same way. The reason co-working spaces mimic large offices is because people are innately social and want to work in an environment with other people. We are likely to see collaboration areas being more important in building design going forwards, along with larger receptions, floor plates with direct access to fresh air, and roof terraces and green spaces being in demand. 

2. Density v Demand. If the predicted reduction in demand for space comes to pass, this will likely be more than offset by the need to lower floor plate densities and greater desire for collaboration and project areas. However, a reduction in demand is not a forgone conclusion. If the trend for working from home continues, employees are likely to want to work flexibly, not only in terms of where, but also when. For example, if all employees go down to three days in the office, what if they all want to work at home on Mondays and Fridays or to have absolute freedom to come and go as they like? These scenarios will not reduce the need for space. 

3. Smart and Connected buildings are the future. Smart buildings and the data they collect contribute to wellbeing. Technology makes buildings more valuable for developers, landlords and occupiers. These trends will continue to grow. Many changes in offices going forwards will be unseen, because they will be technology driven. I explore the importance of connectivity in my earlier blog

4. The "outer inner" is the next big thing. Occupiers have always sought value, which means that there will always be a market for alternative locations, with good transport links. This is what drove the re-invigoration of Shoreditch and King's Cross. New areas to watch included Brixton, for its transport links and good value - no wonder Derwent bought Blue Star House earlier this year - and Lewisham for is proximity to parks, abundance of new residential developments and of course transport links. These areas were described as the "outer inner". 

5. London remains a world class city. Despite the considerable challenges of Covid and the disruption of Lockdown, London remains a world class city. It is important to remember that the current crisis is temporary and there are a lot of overseas investors looking for opportunities to place their money. Quality reminas key in attracting these investments.


John Burns, Chairman, Derwent London

Simon Silver, Director, Derwent London

Simon Allford, Director, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Hosted by: Fiona Edmond, Partner, Charles Russell Speechlys