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Permanent Hybrid Planning, Experience-Focused Design and Environmental, Social and Governance are Three Key Fit-Out Trends in 2022

Amanda Phua • 20/01/2022

Japan remains the most expensive office fit-out market in Asia Pacific for the third consecutive year.

The COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years has greatly impacted the workplace. As markets continue to tackle the ongoing impacts and the rise of the Omicron variant, corporate occupiers are increasingly adopting more flexible working practices.

“We have seen a shift in how corporates are envisioning their space requirements, which in turn impacts fit-out decision-making, all within an environment where costs are still being closely scrutinised. Besides the application of thoughtful design and fit-out standards, there is the need for corporate occupiers to provide employees with seamlessly integrated technology solutions for both onsite and offsite working. There is also a greater emphasis on providing a workplace that is not only environmentally friendly but also has the employees’ well-being at heart,” said Tom Gibson, Head of Project & Development Services, Asia Pacific.

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s 2022 Asia Pacific Office Fit-out Cost Guide, the three key office fit out trends for 2022 are:

  1. Planning for permanent hybrid
    With Asia Pacific countries in varying stages of Return to Office, occupiers are incorporating an increasing spectrum of flexible working practices. Fit-out typologies are also changing, providing more collaborative spaces as well as space for focused work. There is a growing interest in understanding how to engineer an ideal hybrid ecosystem - how much space is needed, what this space should look like, how much it will cost to fit it out, and also meet the ever-growing design demands of the flexible workforce.
  2. Designing for experience
    Insights from Cushman & Wakefield’s bespoke workplace strategy tool, Experience per Square FootTM (XSF), have shown that employees across all markets desire greater workplace flexibility, though to varying degrees. Employers are investigating how to embrace greater flexibility while also maintaining corporate culture and equity of employee experience and are increasingly preferring quality over quantity of space. High quality buildings that provide the highest quality health and wellbeing credentials are mandatory, as is the need for seamlessly integrated technology solutions for both onsite and offsite working. The application of thoughtful design and fit-out standards is crucial in order to reflect the role and purpose of the office which is all about experience, engagement, collaboration, culture and wellbeing.
  3. Incorporating ESG
    We are seeing occupiers and investors placing greater emphasis on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations across all aspects of their real estate footprint as they address challenges related to war for talent, corporate ESG commitments and the rise of green capital. Occupiers are increasingly seeking green and wellness certifications for their projects and are engaging consultants early in the design process. Project managers play a pivotal role here by exposing clients to the latest workplace design strategies and assisting the integration of ESG principles into their workplace.

Mr. Gibson said, “We expect to see further advances in office fit-outs that promote a healthy workplace and provide a strong platform that contributes to business success. There is no “one size fits all” solution here but the data continues to reinforce the importance of the office in the workplace ecosystem and the need to allow employee freedom of choice in their workplace location. Project managers have an important role to play in providing an environmentally sensitive end-to-end solution.”

Cushman & Wakefield’s report also revealed the average office fit-out costs for 31 cities in Asia Pacific. Japan remained as the most expensive office fit-out market in the region for the third consecutive year, with Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya taking the top three spots.

The top ten cities in Asia Pacific with the highest office fit-out costs are:

The top ten cities in Asia Pacific

The Asia Pacific office market has remained resilient, being the only region to have posted consistent, positive office demand since the pandemic began. Looking ahead, we expect a fuller return to the office as higher vaccination allows economies to open more fully, which will potentially drive office demand over the year ahead. Net absorption is forecast to increase from 55 million square feet (msf) in 2021 to around 72msf in 2022 before returning to pre-pandemic levels of around 82msf in 2023.
This positive forecast bodes well for the office fit-out market in the region.

Click here to download the 2022 Asia Pacific Office Fit-out Cost Guide.

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