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Hybrid Working & Pop-up Retail

Written by Anton Chernikov
The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of remote working and online shopping. Companies will rent significantly less private office space, preferring a hybrid model.  People will come to the office not to sit at a desk all day but to connect, learn and be inspired. Retail will also be forced to adapt to the needs of online-first brands and business models.


 We see a major shift in commercial real estate from a traditional leasing approach towards an integrated management model where the same on-site team operates all the residential amenity, retail, basement and commercial use office units. Offices will no longer have single function spaces. All common areas will be accessible and bookable externally by non-members. There will be a vibrant programme of events, exhibitions, performances, wellness classes, pop-up retail and brand partnerships. 
An integrated management approach brings additional operational risk and complexity, but it also unlocks a big opportunity to increase the profitability and asset value of a building or campus. 
 
Traditionally, such a strategy would have been seen as too risky. However, the pandemic has made it impossible to resist such innovation. Footfall and brand exposure through display advertising and sponsored events will become central to the retail experience as it meets the needs of online-first businesses. This will result in significant demand and growth in pop-up retail, forcing landlords to rethink and adapt their leasing strategy.
 
Likewise, office operators will be pushed towards a more flexible and on-demand model. Businesses will choose to rent significantly less private office space, preferring a hybrid model that gives them more flexibility and value for money. Magnus Meyer, Managing Director WSP Nordics & Continental Europe, said: “This crisis is probably going to accelerate the need for modern, flexible office space with lots of services. The buildings that suffer will be the older ones that tenants just don’t want any more. They’re just the wrong product.”

When it comes to hybrid working, there is no one size fits all solution. There are many aspects to work. Some of the time we need to have privacy to get our heads down and work without distraction, ideally with multiple screens. Some of the time we need to make a presentation or attend a networking event. Some of the time we need to get everyone together to solve a problem or align around the core values and vision of the organisation.

Every team is different and so naturally every workplace strategy should be different as well. Some people thrive in a remote working culture, whilst others struggle. Working from home can be much more effective and time-efficient as it is easier to organise meetings and less time is wasted commuting into the city every day. However, working from home can also have a negative impact on learning and professional development. Junior people benefit from the 'being in the room' factor, where they can join meetings and learn from the conversations that take place. With remote working information flows tend to be more narrow and the natural workplace exchange of knowledge and expertise is lost.

 
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 Our recommendation would be to focus on learning, culture and flexibility. Provide a unique personalised service to future tenants so that you can support their culture and growth over the long-term.


This is a unique moment for senior leaders to show that they truly care about the wellbeing of their team. This is the time to rip up the rule book and challenge old assumptions. Organisations no longer need to commit to a single office location. They can spend their office budget in many different ways.

Organisations could give their team members a personal work from home budget so they can find a local coworking space to work from and avoid the commute. They could redesign your team's workflow so that everyone only needs to meet once or twice a week. They could sign up for memberships across multiple coworking spaces and private member clubs. They could also book out countryside venues and do overnight offsite retreats and workshops.

This is the ideal moment for retailers and commercial office operators to redesign their floor-plates and adjust their business models. The purpose of having a central office will no longer be to sit at a desk all day but to connect, learn and be inspired. When designing for a hybrid work future make sure to create welcoming, vibrant and multi-use ground floors and basements. No more empty and corporate looking lobbies. Invest in spaces that are dedicated to learning, training, events and conferences. Invest in a wellness programme and be creative with how your spaces can be used on evenings and weekends. The best way to maximise the value of a space is to open up to a wide range of functions and revenue streams. If one stream struggles you can focus on another. 
Work With Us

We have a deep understanding of how to design for coliving, BtR, and multi-generational single family and multi-family communities. We also have experience in designing for hybrid workplaces and working with clients to co-create placemaking, wellbeing and sustainability strategies for their developments and organisations.

We are a small specialist placemaking and community architecture studio with a wide network of interdisciplinary freelancers and advisors. We use our studio space called House of Transformation to host immersive workshops and test experimental projects and events that enable us to bring unique perspectives and creative solutions to our clients.
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Anton Chernikov

Designer, Entrepreneur & Placemaking Consultant

Founder at Exponentials, House of Transformation & Re:build

email: anton@exponentials.co.uk

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We created House of Transformation during lockdown last year to help startups and SME's to re-imagine the way they work. Having a studio space will also enable us to test our own assumptions around how to build authentic communities and design user-friendly, flexible, multi-use and nature inspired buildings and spaces.
 
Our space is specifically designed for workshops and collaborative meetings. We also host a programme of wellness events, community dinners and personal development courses. There are so many important details and moments that architects and interior designers miss because they are disconnected from the day to day realities of hosting events, building community and operating a multi-use space. Every week we make new connections and discover new learnings and ideas.

We are constantly reminded at how important it is to define an inspiring and consistent story that is embodied in the design of the space. The story of why your space exists and the values and vision that you have for your community makes such a powerful impact on people. Our space is a fusion of an office, a meeting room, a yoga studio, a restaurant, a dance floor, a living room, a theatre, a gallery and most importantly a home. It continues to surprise me how effective it is to offer tea after a dance or wellness event. So many incredible personal and business connections have already emerged as a result. Those after moments or spontaneous social interactions make such a big difference when building community.


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Designing for hybrid working and pop-up retail all starts from a place of listening. Listening to your team members. Listening to your neighbours. Listening to your stakeholders. Gathering qualitative and quantitative data and stories around which you can test your assumptions is critical. This provides the foundation for building an authentic, embodied and resilient culture. How you facilitate this process and create compelling internal and external communications is critical. This isn’t a box that you tick and put into an annual report. This requires time, dedication, vulnerability and a willingness to engage emotionally and dive beneath the surface.