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Our digital age and the concerns for our health

It’s fair to say that most of us have a relaxing ‘go-to’ position that we’ve adopted over time at our desks, in our office chair. Do you lean forward with a rounded back whilst at your computer or, perhaps you allow your feet dangle off the ground? If so, the

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Gilbert-Ash Completes Project in Tech-City

Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, completed the redevelopment of Arnold House in the fast-growing ‘Tech-City’ area of London. The former warehouse now contains a 75,000 sq.ft. stand-out office and retail space. The £15 million project included a three-story extension reflecting the design of the existing building.

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Agile Workspace for Top 20 Law Firm from Unispace

Unispace has completed the strategy, design and delivery for Hogan Lovells new office in Birmingham, a world class new workspace in one of the UK’s most dynamic office markets. The 2,147 sq. m, project managed by specialist project managers Buro Four was completed by Unispace’s London studio for one of the world’s

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Latest Issue

BDC 317 : Jun 2024

office space

£220M OFFICE SPACE IN TOWN BRAND ACQUIRES BRIGHTBAY SHARE TO CLAIM FULL OWNERSHIP OF FLEXIBLE OFFICE PORTFOLIO 

Deal gives OSiT 100% ownership of portfolio and supports ambitions to grow value to £1billion by 2029  Leading London office provider Office Space in Town (OSiT) has today announced that it has successfully acquired Brightbay Real Estate Partners’ 80% share in their London Serviced Office portfolio. The joint venture between Brightbay (previously RDI REIT P.L.C.) and OSiT was established in 2018. The portfolio is now owned fully by OSiT.  The buyout marks a major milestone for the future trajectory of the business, unleashing OSiT’s plans to increase the portfolio value to £500m in the next four years and to £1billion by 2029. OSiT is actively seeking new buildings in prime London locations to purchase to meet rising demand for flexible workspace, as well as partners to support its ambitious growth plans.  The deal follows a period of exponential growth for the sector following the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen demand for flexible office space up 82% on pre-pandemic levels.[1] In fact, as workers return to offices, 41% of occupiers are expected to increase use of flexible workspace as part of a post-COVID work strategy.[2]  In light of this, defining an industry-wide valuation standard for flexible offices remains a major priority for the company in the next six months, with talks ongoing between OSiT and leading academics Professor Neil Dunse and Professor Michael White.  RDI REIT acquired an 80% stake in the portfolio of four central London OSiT assets in 2018 from Forum Partners, Kailong Group and OSiT. The deal marked a continued move by mainstream institutional investors into the flexible office market.  OSiT was advised by lawyers at leading City law firm RPC, led by Tom Purton.   Giles Fuchs, Chairman of Office Space in Town, said: “This deal marks the beginning of an incredibly exciting chapter in OSiT’s growth. This new phase will enable the OSiT team to deliver on our ambitious vision for the future, including our active search to acquire new buildings and plans to grow the portfolio value to £1billion.  “Our partnership with Brightbay showcased just how much value and potential institutional investors see within our rapidly growing sector and in OSiT as a business. I would like to thank the entire team, including Stephen Oakenfull and Adrian Horsburgh, for such an exciting journey.”  Simon Eastlake, Managing Director of Office Space in Town, commented: “Full ownership of the OSiT portfolio marks an important milestone that now sets us on track for a new phase of exciting growth.  “We are actively seeking new buildings and partners that share our vision and enthusiasm for the sector. We’re incredibly excited about what the future holds next for OSiT.”  Tom Purton, Head of Commercial Team at RPC, commented: “We were delighted to act for OSiT on what is a very significant and transformational deal for them. I have known and acted for OSiT for a number of years, but this was the first deal we have done for them since my move to City law firm, RPC in 2021.  “OSiT is a great business, has a very strong management team, a unique culture which inspires huge loyalty amongst its workforce with market leading serviced offices. I have no doubt this deal will help take the business to the next level”.

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Our digital age and the concerns for our health

It’s fair to say that most of us have a relaxing ‘go-to’ position that we’ve adopted over time at our desks, in our office chair. Do you lean forward with a rounded back whilst at your computer or, perhaps you allow your feet dangle off the ground? If so, the fact is that it could be causing long term damage within your body, leading to serious health issues. Health researchers have looked into the negative effects of technology on our posture. The term ‘tech neck’ has been given to the condition caused by spending long periods of time on computers and tablets. Be aware of aches and creases developing across your neck and chest areas – it could be ‘tech neck’. Learn how to look after your posture and ensure your alignment at your desk is a health one. Here’s our guide… The worrying health issue of bad posture Bad posture can not only give you ‘tech neck’, it can lead to muscle problems and strains in other areas of the body. In fact, poor posture is known to be one of the major causes of back problems. It depends on your posture as to which muscle groups feel the strain. Even if you’re not experiencing problems now, improving your posture is something that you should consider to prevent issues from arising in the future. Unfortunately, another main cause of back and neck misalignment is spending prolonged time at a desk — something that many of us can’t avoid. Research has even shown that sitting time has a positive correlation with lower back pain and neck-shoulder pain intensity. You’ll be pleased to hear that there are some actions that you can take to maintain a good posture when you’re at work. A guide to assessing the posture at your desk The first step you can take to bettering your posture is being aware of it. This pushes you to make active changes and recognise when you could improve. Analyse the position of your body whilst at your desk Positioning your body in the right way at work is important, as it’s possible that you’ll be sitting or standing like this for many hours. The way that we sit also has an effect on the way we walk, so it’s important to keep an eye on it. Good posture is where the body is in perfect alignment. This is where your spine can maintain its natural curvature and it isn’t strained. The best way to sit or stand in this way is to imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head that’s pulling you up. This should lengthen your stance, improve the way that you’re positioned, and stop you from slouching. You might find that slouching is temporarily comfortable, but over time it can lead to strain on already sensitised muscles and soft tissues. If your job requires sitting down for a prolonged period, what should you be doing? Try and sit back in the chair rather than perching on the edge, as this offers your back some support and again, stops you from slouching. Do not sit as far back so that your feet dangle though. Letting your feet dangle can cause problems. If you sit on a high stool at work for example, tuck them in and rest them on the support. Positioning yourself so that your legs hang over the side of your chair causes gravity to pull your feet towards the ground and this tilts your pelvis backwards, which can lead to pain. Your shoulders should also be in a relaxed position to offer relief for shoulder pain. Avoid hunching them up so that you can lean on the arms of your chair or rolling them forwards.  Promote a healthy posture using specialist equipment Not only do we need to sit in the right way, but we need to be using equipment that supports our good posture. Speak to your employer if you think that you need extra support or that your current equipment is affecting your posture. If you have a desk job, a suitably adjusted chair that supports that inward curve of your spine is important. Arm rests can help provide support, but they need to be the correct height. If they’re too high, this can cause raised shoulders, and if they’re too low, it can cause leaning. As we mentioned before, make sure that your chair is the right height so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are parallel to, or just lower than, your hips. Your screen should be directly in front of you, around an arm’s length away with the top of the screen at your eye level. A neck rest can also be used to help you relax your neck when you’re not typing. If you use the telephone a lot at work, you might find that a cordless headset would be better suited. This is because you might find yourself cradling your phone between your ear and shoulder, which can add unnecessary strain to our neck, upper back and shoulders.     Take breaks from your desk and move around It’s important to stay mobile. Even if you are sitting with good posture, being sat in the same place for a prolonged period can still be harmful. And, moving around at work has other fitness benefits too. In fact, when asked to interrupt their sitting at work every half an hour throughout the day, overweight/obese office workers showed a 32% reduction in lower back discomfort, compared to seated work. But how can you keep moving in your office space throughout the day? Standing during phone call. Taking a break from the computer every 30 minutes and stretching your legs. Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing them. Doing some desk exercises.

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Gilbert-Ash Completes Project in Tech-City

Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, completed the redevelopment of Arnold House in the fast-growing ‘Tech-City’ area of London. The former warehouse now contains a 75,000 sq.ft. stand-out office and retail space. The £15 million project included a three-story extension reflecting the design of the existing building. It combined its current industrial impression with a high standard modern workplace environment to cater for the thriving technology and media businesses in South Shoreditch. Working closely with Buckley Gray Yeoman architects, the team at Gilbert-Ash transformed the seven-storey building to reveal collaborative open-plan spaces with exposed concrete columns and efficient floor plates. High-ceilings and significant natural light adds to the development to create a contemporary environment. The ground floor, encompassing retail outlets and a spacious reception area, includes a curtain wall glazing exterior and black steel cladding panels for the signage zone. The façade also incorporates brick cladding and brick slip panels over new external walls. An inverted roof with decking has created terrace spaces, with tenants able to enjoy views of the Shoreditch streetscape. “The final internal and external Arnold House refurbishment works well in the surrounding modern Tech-City environment. The contemporary space has been carefully constructed to keep the industrial style of the building but with additional features you would expect in a productive, collaborative space. From the ground floor to the roof terrace and landscaped courtyard, we aimed to create a space that would meet the needs of today’s modern, flexible workforce. The building includes office space with retail units on the ground floor in a fantastic location, right in the heart of Tech City,” said Gerard Mullan, Gilbert-Ash Project Manager. Located on the corner of Great Eastern Street and Holywell Lane, the new development is a BREAMM Very Good building with a WiredScore Gold certification. The building was completed and handed over on the 10th of August.

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Agile Workspace for Top 20 Law Firm from Unispace

Unispace has completed the strategy, design and delivery for Hogan Lovells new office in Birmingham, a world class new workspace in one of the UK’s most dynamic office markets. The 2,147 sq. m, project managed by specialist project managers Buro Four was completed by Unispace’s London studio for one of the world’s largest law firms as it expands its operations across the UK.   The final design is a key element in the pioneering, new project for Hogan Lovells to set out an open-plan template for its working environments and minimise the need for private office space.   Dale Woodcock, Regional Principal, Business Development at Unispace, said: “This project was a significant step in the evolution of the legal workplace – the move to a more agile environment which constantly evolves and expands in line with a growing team is a bold step.  Hogan Lovells’ growth in Birmingham has been rapid, and its new office needed to offer a degree of fluidity and provide organic space that could be tailored to demand.   “The Birmingham office was founded on the need to provide a workplace of excellence for the Hogan Lovells’ team and increase staff attraction and retention in the face of strong local competition. This is a workspace that changes the attitude of the business to the environment around it, imbuing it with agility and flexibility and all the positive outcomes that these qualities generate.”   The new workplace is an interchangeable open space, with a variety of different options that adapt to specific task requirements – modules can become an open plan space, a room to an office, to a phone room and a system of flexibility.   Collaboration spaces includes long benches, booths, putting green, table tennis table and phone rooms. There are also touch down workspaces, informal meeting areas and break out areas for socialising.   In the firm’s previous workspace there was an overreliance on cellular offices that provided a physical barrier to the integration of the workspace and inhibited information sharing.   “A crucial element of the legal workplace is understanding storage requirements– to become open plan you need to promote tidiness and give each worker enough space” explained Peggy Kan, Senior Designer, Unispace.   “A significant challenge was mitigating the buzz that an open plan design produces in a working environment with the need for privacy. The answer was a desk configuration where each lawyer gets their own storage, desk, chair, but they can still see everyone else working – this allows them to feel as though they’re in their own pod.”   The new workspace also must work hard to attract talent from a relatively constrained pool of potential employees with relevant expertise. Unispace introduced a comfortable and welcoming front of house area, collaborative spaces throughout, including “the Hive” and produced branding materials such as a global map to impress upon visitors the scale of the business.   The aesthetic for the project was driven by a requirement to portray the firm’s global identity, as a global top 20, professional law firm. With the look and feel, the Unispace team wanted to create a palette which was comfortable and relatable, to portray an element of elegance and sophistication, and link to the global identity within the reception space.   Michael Gallimore, Partner & Head of Birmingham at Hogan Lovells, said:   “Birmingham is an active and vibrant community and we are proud to be a part of it. We are investing in and supporting the city, both through providing credible and attractive career opportunities and also through our citizenship and pro bono activities.   “The new workplace in Birmingham will act as a significant draw for both clients and staff alike as Hogan Lovells expands in a vibrant and confident market. The legal workplace has trodden a familiar path for a long-time and the new office provided an opportunity to re-think the way our teams work.”

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Four in five flexible office space users enjoy higher productivity levels – The Instant Group

More than half of companies interviewed will spend less time working from a traditional company office space in the future as corporates look to flexible options. Four out of five flexible office space users reported that they have benefitted from the enhanced work environment, with workers agreeing that their workspace has had a positive effect on engagement with their roles, resulting in much higher productivity levels. The ‘Marketplace for flexible work’ report has been conducted by The Instant Group, the flexible workspace specialist and workplace strategy firm HLW. The research found that users of co-working and flexible space are rapidly growing in numbers across a larger range of companies. And those using it are reaping further benefits in the form of greater work flexibility, growing professional networks, more business opportunities, higher levels of energy at work, and innovation. Tim Rodber, CEO, The Instant Group, said: “The trend towards flexible working has dominated the headlines for some time now and operators of this space have been driving take up in the global cities for the past two years. More than half of our respondents envision spending less time going forward working from a traditional company office space, this confirms our view that corporate occupiers in particular want far more flexibility and choice nowadays over how and where they work.” The report analysed the co-working and flexible workspace sector to gather a 360-degree perspective of the industry to determine where perspectives align and diverge among stakeholders.  The research also found that location and the ability to assign or reassign employees to workspace on short notice were also important influencers when choosing flexible workspace over conventional office space. Looking forward, the research found that more than half of the companies interviewed envisage spending less time working from a traditional company office space with an increase in the number of corporates looking for more flexible options.   Flexible benefits Eighty-three per cent of users of co-working and other types of flex space claim to have benefited from this growing form of work environment over the last five to ten years. The majority (71%) of end-user’s report that their workspaces positively affect the ways they engage in their work. Greater work flexibility, expanding professional networks, business opportunities, higher levels of energy at work, innovation, and a generally improved working environment were cited as some of the key benefits of working in this type of environment. A vast majority of users stated that by being surrounded by a more diverse mix of individuals they allowed themselves a greater opportunity to ‘learn often’ and that they ‘continue to learn more and more as time goes by’. Long-term satisfaction Amenity provision such as decent coffee shops, showers and wireless connectivity are key considerations when it comes to possible improvements in flexible workspaces, with nearly all respondents (89%) citing that this would improve satisfaction, alongside innovations in workplace design and the quality of the social experience. These areas of focus are at the point where the “new” market for workspace is challenging previous perceptions of the of co-working model – namely, a radical shift in the approach to design, providing more (and better) amenities, and curating the space to create atmosphere and interaction. Corporates are ‘flexing’ Corporate clients are reaping the benefits of a more engaged workforce and the associated benefits of working in flexible workspaces. The ability to choose where and when you work would appear not only to give management and workers a variety of environments that suit different working modes but also positively impact user engagement levels. The key finding for corporates was the general flexibility around work, and the ability to reduce or increase real estate costs as the business required. Tellingly, some corporate respondents even quote reduced real estate costs and greater employee productivity as being among the critical and tangible business benefits. John Duckworth, MD of UK & EMEA, The Instant Group, said: “With lease lengths on average now down to as low as 5.2 years and with the average tenancy stay around 36 months for operators such as The Office Group, the gap is closing between a ‘flex’ or ‘conventional’ approach. Increasingly the choice is becoming based more upon cashflow and strategic approach to space than the length of stay. For access to the full report, please CLICK HERE www.theinstantgroup.com   Methodology The Instant Group partnered with HLW to conduct a study of over 300 respondents from the co-working and flexible work industry. Respondents completed a comprehensive questionnaire about their current perspectives of the market, the value they get from it, and how they see the market benefiting them in the future. About The Instant Group Founded in 1999, The Instant Group is a workspace innovation company that rethinks workspace on behalf of its clients injecting flexibility, reducing cost and driving enterprise performance. Instant places more than 6,000 companies a year in flexible workspace such as serviced, managed or co-working offices including Amazon, American Express, Sky, Network Rail, Serco, Teleperformance, Worldpay, and TMF making it the market leader in flexible workspace. Its listings’ platform Instant Offices hosts more than 12,000 flexible workspace centers across the world and is the only site of its kind to represent the global market, providing a service to FTSE 100, Fortune 500, and SME clients.  With offices in London, Newcastle, Berlin, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur, The Instant Group employs 200 experts and has clients in more than 150 countries. About HLW HLW is a leading international full-service planning, architecture and design firm. HLW is building the future, from skyscrapers, to the workplaces of today’s most cutting-edge companies. Sustaining a successful practice for over 125 years, HLW remains a strong, innovative and progressive organization with a diverse portfolio of projects from broadcast and media, financial corporations, technology, academic institutions, and multi-family and mixed-use buildings. The multi-disciplinary firm’s mission is to create inspiring and enriching spaces that enhance that way people work, meet and interact. HLW is headquartered in New York, with offices in Madison,

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Savills Highlights Similar Rents between Refurbished and New-Build Office Space

Leeds is seemingly becoming an increased hotbed of commercial activity, with notable demand for office space in the city, both as consequence and result. As such, this demand has led to a considerable spike in those rents associated with quality refurbished space, where Savills has reported these values hitting circa £26 per square foot of office space; a figure which remains £1 shy of new-build, Grade A offices (£27 per square foot). The major factor to which this situation can be attributed seems to be the enhanced levels of demand seen from organisations which are aiming to “set up shop” and benefit from the comparatively low living and property costs in the city. This, in effect, has led to such increases in demand volume and associated developments that Leeds now stands as the city with the second largest volume of development starts, as reported by Savills. Yet, whilst the situation is naturally prey to the whims of the uneven scales of supply and demand, the increased number of new developments is expected to tip the scales slightly more favourably for those looking for office space over the course of the year. As such, the available stock of suitable office spaces is expected to re-open the difference between new-build and refurbished office spaces as, one might argue, it should be. Looking at the levels of investment, it has also been reported by Savills that, over the course of the previous year, prime equivalent yields with regard to regional offices has moved in by 50 bps, hitting 4.75%. Additionally, the volume of investment into the market for office space outside of the capital city has risen notable during the past 2 years. Savills’ Associate Director of Office Agency, Paddy Carter commented: “Leeds will see a step change in the quality and variety of space available to occupiers this year.” To pre-empt this, of course, there has already been a surge of interest from occupiers of all shapes and sizes.

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