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Philippa Davies Head of Leasing, Derwent London

The role of the workplace has undoubtedly changed; but this evolution should be seen as positive. Many of the headlines seen over the last two years demonstrate an acceleration of change that was already underway before the pandemic. In some ways, the pandemic was a catalyst for the journey Derwent London was already on, towards sustainable, digitally intelligent, human-centric, adaptable spaces.

As a central London office developer and landlord, a close dialogue with our customers was fundamental as we together navigated the pandemic; this experience and shared dialogue drew a number of conclusions, proving a further shift in the role of the workplace to having a talent, brand and cultural focus, alongside its core business function.

Our occupiers need their workplace to be a well-designed, high quality inspiring space, which drives innovation and inspires collaboration and collective productivity. It needs to be representative of culture and brand and must be a safe space with employee well-being at the fore. Talent continues to drive real estate decisions; business leaders, talent managers and HR teams consider the office environment an increasingly vital component in the fight for talent, being intrinsically linked to brand messaging and recruitment programmes.

Workplace agility is inevitable and for good reason; the need for an office has not been replaced, rather its purpose is being redefined. The value of good quality office space to businesses is understood more now than ever before; the workplace needs to be a place the individual chooses to come.

A workplace needs to be a blank canvas for occupiers to ground and curate brand and culture, but also a springboard to make their mark in their industry and beyond. We create flexible and adaptable spaces that are long life, loose fit and low energy. Our White Collar Factory campus at Old Street was a working case study for that philosophy while our ‘Flexible and Furnished’ model is one of our responses to the evolving flexible office market.

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Sustainability credentials continue to grow in importance and we are seeing a conscious accountability across the marketplace; we view this as a shared endeavour with collaboration and partnership between landlords and occupiers, requiring an investment in appropriate infrastructure, and a transparency to data sharing on energy consumption. A landlord’s Scope 3 emissions are an occupier’s Scope 2. Our recent 80 Charlotte Street development in Fitzrovia was our first all-electric and net zero carbon building and an important milestone in our journey to Net Zero Carbon by 2030.

Understanding and reducing embodied carbon is fundamental but space needs to be used efficiently to minimise operational carbon emissions. We take a ‘whole life’ carbon approach, designing and building new spaces to the highest standard and retrofitting Intelligent Building Solutions to enhance operability.

So, it is with cautious and careful confidence that we move positively into 2022, with hopeful optimism that this will be a less pandemic affected year. Our product and growing pipeline will remain centred on inspiring and well-designed spaces, adaptable for occupier flexibility and responding to and embracing changing and agile work practices. In doing so, we can address sustainability ambitions and accountability, digital enablement and employee well-being.

To find out more www.derwentlondon.com.

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