Adam McGhee

Adam McGhee, partner, Sheppard Robson on how business requirements for space have changed exponentially over the past 15 years, the shifting focus to the workforce’s physical and mental well being and the growing influence of sustainable green issues and co-working.

They say a week is a long time in politics; but with the rate at which workspace design changes, a year is a very long time in architecture. Over the last 15 years, since the inception of Glasgow's IFSD, businesses' requirements for space has changed exponentially, and as architects, we've evolved to make sure we're always exceeding the brief.

Where once the focus was on matching London standards - whilst retaining local cost efficiencies - our clients' focus has shifted dramatically to the protection of their workforce's physical and mental wellbeing. Standards and cost are still vitally important; but these are now a 'given' and are not enough in themselves.

Adam McGhee

Businesses now understand that by putting their workforce at the heart of a building, productivity soars as they retain top staff and generate positivity. So where once it was enough to offer bright, spacious floorplates, we are now briefed to incorporate showers, gyms, and in the case of HFD Group's '177 Bothwell Street', which we designed, a 150m running track on the roof.

Over the past 15 years, sustainability has also leapt to the top of the design agenda. Clients, architects and occupiers all now understand the implications of workspaces being as green as possible, not only this, they must futureproof their schemes. It's very likely that the next 15 years will see a sharp increase in briefs to protect against climate change, something that wouldn't have been considered a decade ago.

Similarly, 15 years ago, 'co-working' conjured up images of artists collaborating in loft warehouses; now with organisations such as the BBC and Deloitte, it's a completely normalised way of working, and has filtered up from exposed brick incubator spaces to high-end City Centre business clubs. With an ever-growing workforce who can plug in anywhere, it's difficult to see this trend changing.

The rise of co-working has fundamentally changed how we occupy offices; however, it's not just floorplates that have become more agile. Reception spaces have also felt the impact of the 'co-' prefix, with arrival spaces being reinvented as extensions of the collaborative spaces within.

Traditionally, receptions were single use spaces, occupied by waiting visitors. This idea of 'fixed' space is increasingly being interrogated, with occupiers rethinking how ground floor spaces can interact with the surrounding community. The arrival space is now considered an extension of the office - a place for meeting, collaboration and an opportunity to articulate brand values. Looking to hospitality for ideas, receptions now create a bustling and informal welcome to guests, whilst also welcoming the public in. This positions receptions as 'shop windows', with areas for events, galleries and public amenities - communicating an organisation's values and setting the tone of the building.

Also changing is the line between 'back of house' and 'front of house' -which is dissolving. Instead of meeting in a boardroom, people favour the more relaxed setting of a café or co-working space, within a reception area. This approach 'opens the front door' of an organisation, showing clients the culture of the organisation and driving a shift to informality. This has been proven to forge closer bonds with clients.

Flexibility and openness will not suit every occupier, and - in my view - must always be adopted thoughtfully enough to ensure use. it is imperative to find a balance between public and private that is appropriate for individual organisations.

Glasgow itself has changed in the last decade and a half, and the IFSD has evolved with it, from a specific geographic location to a collaborative, supportive network of professional financial organisations. As these firms have adapted their practices, so have their workspace requirements changed and as architects, we continue to work hard to understand their needs. With the rise of the fintech sector it is likely that the next decade will again see unparalleled change; and with Glasgow continuing to attract the cream of the crop, we will continue to create offices that will bring them to, and keep them in, Glasgow.

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