18 September, 2023
No office is an island – it’s part of a community
What can we learn from the recent Canary Wharf exodus - Is hybrid working destroying the community of the office?

Canary Wharf has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks. The beautifully built, all-singing, all-dancing offices are being vacated by the likes of finance giant HSBC, in favour of smaller offices amidst the buzz of the City as businesses downsize in response to an increased work from home/hybrid culture. So, what’s the lesson here for businesses and office building owners?

Office buildings can’t be considered as independent entities

Our Design Director, Luisa, says: “I think buildings – no matter how big they are – can’t be considered as independent entities. As workplace design experts we can create amazing interiors, but employees seek more from their workplace during their (already reduced/less frequent) visits. They want pleasant environments, livelier surroundings, and a vibrant atmosphere when stepping out onto the streets.”

Essentially, designing your office might be about creating amazing spaces and on-site experiences, but, in the words of Kirsty Allsopp, ‘location, location, location’ is still extremely important. The two elements go hand in hand, along with a connection to the surrounding community. When you’re considering your workplace, think about how people are going to get there, where they’re going to buy their lunch, head for drinks after work, use the gym, or simply enjoy walking down the street.

Understanding business values 

Don’t get us wrong, Canary Wharf has some amazing benefits for employers and employees. It’s beautifully landscaped, its buildings are invariably more environmentally friendly, and the estate has an excellent biodiversity plan. That said, the characterful appeal of the winding medieval streets of the City of London, its pubs, it’s vibrancy and its proximity to other parts of London, give it a 1,000-year edge that’s proving hard to compete with.

Now, there are conversations about who will fill these spaces, whether it’s new commercial tenants or whether there’s a discussion to be had about converting these buildings into residential spaces. After all, New York City recently rolled out a plan to change zoning rules for Midtown Manhattan to allow more offices to be converted to apartments. (Bloomberg)

How to choose the right office space for your business

Luisa says: “Canary Wharf has frequently been ‘criticised’ for not being as lively as the City. Buildings are being vacated and the neighbourhood has been losing souls: this can’t just be fixed with amazing interiors. The vision needs to be wider; a holistic approach is needed to save Canary Wharf.”

For our part, we think that the key to a successful office space is, as Luisa says, a holistic approach. That’s why we always start with deep discussions with a company’s team – understanding what they want and need, and then combining that with brand values and insider knowledge of workplace design and optimisation.

If you would like advice on choosing the right location for your office, followed by experienced support in creating a space to enhance your business, we’d love to help.

Speak to the team at Maris