Office spaces have continued to evolve throughout history.
London was the birthplace of the modern office (if you discount the Roman Forum of antiquity), with the construction of the Old Admiralty Building in 1726 to house naval headquarters. Three years later saw the opening of East India House in the City of London, the capital’s second purpose-built office.
The idea of the office really took hold in the 19th century when the railway boom enabled swathes of workers to commute into cities for work. Eventually, property developers created entire urban parks devoted to office spaces, such as Canary Wharf in London or Salford Quays in Manchester. Tearing down older buildings and building purpose-built office blocks became the norm.
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At the same time, the rise in freelancers and the self-employed saw the rise in co-working office spaces, such as the WeWork or Spaces chains, which enabled companies to rent space on a per head basis, expanding or contracting as to that month’s needs.
And then the pandemic came along.
In hindsight, the idea of the entire workforce having to converge on an office and be sitting down in front of a plank of wood – i.e. a desk – seems somewhat archaic. Covid-19 social distancing proved that remote working was viable, and today’s new office spaces reflect the smushing together of our lives, blending the office with a gym and afterwork socialising. Yes, office spaces are still important but with staff expecting to work flexibly from now on, landlords know they have to offer more than just desks and chairs. Indeed, the vast majority (76 per cent) of employees do not want to return to full-time office work, according to messaging app Slack, so office designers know they have to up their game.
Here are eight of the coolest office spaces that we love, exemplifying new trends in office design, whether it’s pet-friendly spaces for workers to bring their dogs in or eco-aware low-energy heating and lighting systems or e-charging points for electric cars, as well as inhouse gyms, bicycle parking or post-work socialising areas today’s staff have come to expect.