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Jun 29, 2016

Postcard from the Edge #2 – Sydney


Sydney on a winter's day

Sydney is a remarkable city even in the depths of the Australian winter. I was there to take part in a CoreNet symposium, hosted by Cushman Wakefield, on trends in flexible working. The brief was to update the audience about what’s going on in London. Looking back, it now seems to me that I had more to learn about what’s going on in this part of the globe.
During my session I explained that flexible working in the UK is now really on the agenda. In recent months there has been an explosion of reports and surveys on this topic all of them confirming that there is a lot of activity and growth in this nascent sector. Some claim it is a new dawn whilst some believe it is merely a passing fad. I wonder how it will play out?
Talking about dawns we all agreed that we facing the ‘dawn of choice’ Given market uncertainty, a dramatic growth in the number of small businesses and a big shift in people’s expectations around how and where they work. The consensus from the room was that our industry needs to strive for greater innovation to provide much more choice for the emerging wider spectrum of consumers and occupiers. It was interesting to me to see evidence of the Landlord/Investor sector actively engaging in how to provide a wider range of products beyond the basic 5-10 year lease. More about this in a later postcard.
We agreed that the emerging co-working sector is not just about the space it also about community and collaboration. They place less emphasis on private offices and square footage as their goal is the ability to interact and collaborate with fellow residents which is the driving force for greater productivity. How does an appraiser or Valuer analyse this?
Our discussion also considered traditional offices where in contrast to the UK the sustainability agenda in now a hygiene factor not a premium cost consideration when designing space. We did however agree that open plan offices have been around for a long time but the basic concept has seen little innovation.  As we went around Australia and New Zealand I debated this point  a lot with my host Chris Alcock, we have yet to reach a conclusion…

OPen Plan offices
Overall the consensus from Sydney is that the way in which office space is consumed is changing dramatically – we can all see it but what are we doing about it??

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