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How the Office is Evolving in a Post-Pandemic World

CGi Image of Redesigned Offices at Seacourt Tower
CGi of Redesigned Offices at Seacourt Tower

One of the permanent changes the pandemic has brought about is the way we work.

For the last 18 months most of us have spent a large amount of time working from home. We discovered that technology allowed us to interact with colleagues as much as before from our study, kitchen table, back bedroom or wherever we wanted to be.

Now restrictions have lifted to the point where it is perfectly feasible to come back to the office but while some welcome it, many have grown used to home comforts and the convenience of no commuting or long trips to meetings which can now be conducted online.

It is causing employers to rethink and redesign their offices, making them more open, welcoming, comfortable places to be that allow staff to come and go seamlessly perhaps as part of a hybrid working model.

Gone are the days where staff sit in rows of desks facing each other. Office designers are now maximising light, increasing space with attractive designs and decoration. Hosting and collaboration are the new buzzwords with companies able to use their offices as an attractive statement of their brand values and a welcome destination for clients as well as employees.

All of this was taken into consideration by landlords Brockton Everlast when they asked fit-out company Crown Interiors to consider a redesign of two floors of one of Oxford’s landmark office buildings – Seacourt Tower in Botley and now on the market through letting agents VSL.

Crown Interiors have created a proposed design incorporating a range of features which will be required in a post pandemic world and created both CGI’s and floor layouts to demonstrate the potential of the space.  One of the main features is a greater amount of drop-down space for hot-desking allowing staff to come and go and share facilities.

Small booths are also a feature with high backed sofas which create areas for informal meetings along with small and large meeting rooms, breakout space and an emphasis on space and airiness.

The colour pallet reflects more of a hotel-feel working environment with warm, natural tones, while shower facilities have been included for those people exercising with overall wellbeing a major consideration.

Clare Wilkinson, head of design at Crown Interiors said: “We approached the design of Seacourt to create a fresh, inviting space to attract dynamic businesses as they return to the workplace post-Covid. Our aim was to demonstrate how a footplate of this size could adapt to provide an agile, flexible environment, focusing on wellbeing.

“Our furniture choices strike the perfect balance between office, home and hospitality, creating a sense of comfort and familiarity. We have purposefully used a muted colour palette and placed emphasis on planting, soft furnishings and finishing touches.”

A total of 18,967 sq ft is being refurbished on the ground floor and first floor East Wing and ground floor North Wing of Seacourt Tower to a Category A finish to provide open plan space ready for immediate fit out at a rental of £35 per sq ft.

Brockton Everlast acquired the building in January 2020 which totals over 176,000 sq ft of multi-let offices and retail warehousing with occupiers including Blake Morgan solicitors, Bidwells, Grant Thornton, Reed and Handelsbanken.

The redesign of this office space follows the latest lettings at Seacourt Tower which were agreed by VSL to Grant Thornton and Ogilvy Health, a WPP company.

Seacourt has always been a popular destination at the heart of Oxford’s professional services sector close to the train station, the main A34 north and south and the newly extended Seacourt Park and Ride. It is also within easy distance of the city’s restaurants and retail outlets.

Richard Venables of VSL said: “Occupiers’ needs are changing, and this has been accelerated by the pandemic which has caused a massive rethink in our attitudes towards office working.

“Companies are now far more conscious of their workers’ wellbeing and realise that, although it requires initial investment, productivity can increase in a supportive environment while this sort of office will help with recruitment so this trend can only continue. Seacourt Tower offers a great opportunity for occupiers to create a new working environment from a blank canvas and the concept plans from Crown Interiors will hopefully help guide how this can best be achieved.

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