This is what the future of work looks like, from our partners at TOG
The last few years have certainly been a rollercoaster, upending our idea of what a ‘normal’ life looks like. We’ve had an opportunity to question everything – not least our relationship with work.
Over the past 12 months we’ve been listening to our front of house teams, to the industry-leading architects and designers that we collaborate with, and to you, our members. We’ve seen how quickly priorities have shifted, priorities like comfort, flexibility and sustainability that are now redefining our demands on the office. So, TOG’s design team has been hard at work catering to these needs.
Here, they share their thoughts on what the future of work looks like – in 2022, and beyond.
How to bring home comforts into the workplace
Habab Ahmed, FF&E Manager
“Creating a comfortable space to work is so important. Any chair we spec now is not just aesthetically pleasing, but something people will want to sit in for ages. There’s comfort in flexibility, too. Traditionally work was about sitting at a desk but, when working from home, people have also sat on the sofa or at the kitchen table. We’re considering this when space-planning and designing by creating different kinds of zones in our buildings.
People also want more flexibility within the actual office, not just in the communal spaces, so we’ve come up with alternative work typologies within the office – taking away a bank of six desks and putting in a communal table or sofas, for example.
Another element we’re looking at is lighting. There’s often more natural light at home, which creates a different mood and ambience, so we’re exploring this in our buildings. We’re thinking about how light should be applied in different settings, and are looking at dimming light depending on the time of day and using diffused lights to help stop a harsh glare. We’re also exploring creating specific smells for each building. It’s another way to feel at home in the spaces.”
How to support agile working
Warren Margolis, Product Director
“The culture around work has shifted and we believe people are looking for a balance. This means more emphasis on amenities – cafés, gyms, meditation spaces and Peloton rooms, for example. We’ve had feedback that the number one draw that gets people back to the office is the quality of the food and drink.
We currently have nine buildings in development – six to be delivered in 2022. Two are in Berlin, and four are in London.
When we talk about the importance of food and beverage, Borough Yards, right in the middle of Borough Market, couldn’t be better placed.
Chancery House, in Holborn, will be our biggest building in London. The sheer scale allows us to do all the things we’d like to do – have an amazing café, the best gym we’ve delivered so far and a complete range of office set-ups from whole floors and wings to smaller offices.
We’re also focusing on doing the basics better – getting the best out of the daylight, the views, managing the acoustics and providing a choice of work settings to support different tasks.
In 210 Euston Road, we’ve gone to town with the enhanced office offering with furniture settings, wall finishes, floor finishes and really upped the game on office design. There are also 16 outdoor terraces of different sizes.
In creating spaces that support agile working, we can help our customers to encourage their teams back to the office.”
How to create spaces that facilitate and boost productivity
Claire McPoland, Design Lead TOG Interiors
“There’s a real emphasis on creating different areas for different tasks in an office environment. This is what makes us the most productive versions of ourselves – far more than being restricted to one environment, such as a desk or a kitchen table, all day.
At TOG, we consider everything about the setting, from the furniture type and light levels to colour palettes. For example, we’d look to introduce vibrant colours in areas where we’re pulling everyone together, or have a more tonal palette with less visual distraction for spaces designed to encourage more focused work.
Within our buildings, there are so many spaces that are flooded with natural light and great views, and we’ve also got an amazing amount of outdoor spaces. These spaces give people the opportunity to break away and reset themselves, especially if they’ve been doing a lot of focused work.
We’ve developed a series of different settings that we offer to clients, split between focused spaces such as phone booths, and a series of collaborative settings. The idea is they can be plugged and placed within the open-plan environment to create a balance of zones.
We’re also seeing clients bleed the look and feel of the communal spaces into their offices, too. Design has never been so high up on the agenda when it comes to making the office an attractive place to work.”
How TOG is designing more sustainably
Sophie Werren, Lead Architect
“As a team, we use sustainability to keep us innovating. There are lots of new products coming to market that have excellent sustainability credentials – and they’re really beautiful.
The Black & White Building is our sustainability poster child, constructed from cross-laminated timber rather than the traditional concrete and steel. We’re aiming to have all the furniture in the building made or designed in London and the UK so we can support the local economy and reduce transport emissions. In the kitchens, we’re using worktops made from Richlite, which is made from recycled paper. It’s a very hard-wearing product and feels natural.
In Chancery House, which is going to open in spring 2023, we’ve been able to re-use the building which is great for sustainability. We’re installing solar panels on the roof, will harvest rainwater, are creating a variety of outdoor spaces and we’re aiming for a WELL accreditation, which is about the wellbeing of the users within the building. This includes attention to acoustics and air quality, for example.
In our team we talk a lot about longevity. We design with our users in mind – both for now and the future. If we have that as our goal in mind, then we won’t need to be changing things out for our clients, which is a more sustainable approach. We’ve been pushing the design and have had positive responses from our clients.”
How flexible work spaces can encourage diversity
Malak Sarour, Designer
“Before I joined the design team, I worked front of house at TOG. One moment that stuck in my mind was when I was approached by a Muslim client and she asked me if there was somewhere quiet for her to pray – and at the time there was nowhere I could think of other than booking her a meeting room.
In an ideal world, we’d have spaces like accessible kitchens, parents’ rooms and prayer rooms as standard. We’re looking at how we can make this happen in more of our Work Spaces.
Focus groups are really useful to learn what people need. We’ve used them to help design the gyms at Chancery House, one of our forthcoming buildings, to make them inclusive. It’s been so interesting to hear all the different views.
We want to encourage people to come back to the workplace and sometimes it’s the simple things that really make the difference. Like showers, for example. Some people love the rainfall shower experience we’ve integrated into some buildings, but it makes my life a lot harder because I have really curly hair! And I know a lot of people feel the same way. It’s all about making people feel welcome and comfortable when they come to work and giving them the best possible experience, whatever that may mean to them.”