Offices revamp for returning workers

A construction group has reported record demand from businesses looking to revamp their offices before workers return.

Morgan Sindall said that it had an order book of £581 million for office fit-outs at the end of June, 42 per cent higher than at the end of last year and the strongest level in its history.

John Morgan, 65, chief executive, said: “The office certainly isn’t dead. Our clients are the occupiers [of offices] and . . . I think the trend is that they’ve got to make offices more attractive places for people.”

Recently completed projects by Overbury, Morgan Sindall’s office fit-out business, have included the Royal College of Physicians’ northern headquarters in Liverpool. The building, known as The Spine, is said to be one of the healthiest in the world, with oxygen-producing plants to improve the internal environment. It also has circadian lighting to mimic the subtle colour changes of natural light.

Morgan Sindall said that the latest office trends included “democratising space”, so that everyone could enjoy the best views and spaces, not only board members and top executives.

Companies want to demonstrate their green credentials in workplaces, with one London-based sustainable investment firm installing worktops made from locally felled trees. Virtual reality rooms and phone booths have been fitted in some offices to reduce the need for transatlantic flights for meetings. Businesses are focusing more on acoustics to ensure that noise is minimised in shared workspaces to create a more productive environment.

A survey this year of 400 international office-based companies by Knight Frank, the property group, found that 46 per cent would try to improve staff amenities after the pandemic.

PwC, the accounting firm, opened its new Belfast office last month. It features a “wellbeing space”, with meditation pods and physiotherapy and manicure services. The office also has booths in the staff restaurant with screens so that teams can connect over lunch with people working remotely.

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