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6 December 2017 | By Jonathan Emery Community

London's shift east: inspiring workplace design

London’s businesses need more than just imposing HQs – and east London is rapidly becoming a testbed for future ways of working

People are expected to be ‘always-on’. But is this perpetual state of connectedness advancing our productivity at work or killing our performance, or worse, our ability to innovate?

Earlier this year, Lendlease issued a report investigating the changing nature of people’s activities and performance in the workplace. From sitting for hours on end, to working all day in isolation, we assessed the limitations of our current work culture. The main finding was that if companies want to get the most from their employees, their workplace first needs to evolve.

London’s businesses need more than just imposing HQs; they require integrated spaces that build human connection into the very structures of the business. For that to happen workplaces have to flex with their requirements and the building should support the way their employees wish to work, not restrict or define it. Increasingly this equates to designing in collaborative working space. 

Regeneration prompts change

With the regeneration that has taken place since London 2012, east London is rapidly becoming a testbed for future ways of working, and developments such as International Quarter London are showing the business community how this can be brought to life.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has celebrated how Stratford will become “one of the largest cultural and educational destinations within Europe”; and it is this unique mix of the commercial, the creative and the cultural that really sets the area apart.

Just as people want office space which inspires them, they increasingly want opportunities to mix with a wide range of people and to be inspired by companies and institutions that expand their own ecosystem.   

Transforming the area into a neighbourhood for live, work, learn and play has brought with it interest from not only major companies and organisations, but also the academic community. In the past five years, more than six cultural and academic institutions have committed to new museums and campuses in the area, including UCL, the V&A and London College of Fashion. This cultural investment together with world class sporting facilities will attract a diverse business community built from a varied range of workers, all bringing a different mindset to the area and thus a greater scope for collaboration and creativity.

Speaking at the Evening Standard’s recent ‘Leading London’ conference, social health expert Julia Hobsbawn said that “we need businesses that look, act and feel like they belong to the community.” And reinforcing this momentum, a report launched last month by research group Oxford Economics, stating that the regeneration of east London could bring in a total of 74,000 jobs to the area across professional services, administration, finance and insurance, wholesale and retail – well over the baseline forecasts predicted in 2013.

Ultimately, the human connection in the workplace has become more important now than ever before. It will inspire productivity and creativity, and attract the best talent for your company. And those who grasp the value of intelligent, collaborative workplace design will secure a real competitive advantage in this changing market.

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