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Follow our series of weekly blogs focusing on some of the most innovative developments in workplace strategy, researched from over 50 leading global companies.

We are excited to announce the release of our new book, ‘Reworking the Workplace’ with RIBA. Publishing on 1 June, the book explores the future of work, workplace and the city in the face of global disruptors. It provides data, concepts and frameworks, historic analysis and 50+ cutting edge case studies, across three thematic areas of People, Purpose and Place.

Lead authors Nicola Gillen and Richard Pickering with; Sophie Schuller, June Koh, Zoe Humphries, Andrew Phipps, Rachel Casanova, Laura Danzig and 30 other contributors from across Cushman & Wakefield.



The Value of Place banner

For those working in the real estate industry, the importance of location has been drummed into us from an early age. Over most of the course of history, the location of an asset has been the most significant explanatory variable of its value and utility.  But why is this and what does it really mean? And in the modern world where value drivers are shifting rapidly, are old maxims useful anymore?

Fairly fundamental economic principles establish that the value of an asset is typically a function of supply and demand.  Our world is vast, and only a small percentage of it is used intensively. And so, despite there being a finite supply of land, this is not the driving factor of real estate value. Commercial and residential demand is very focussed on a limited number of highly concentrated global population nodes. This has created a huge gulf in value between the centres of global megacities, where land can trade in the hundreds of millions of dollars per acre, to unfarmable land in remote locations, which is essentially valueless. Typically, the further that land sits away from these demanded locations, the less valuable it is, creating radial patterns outwards. But why is this?

We attribute the utility of and hence demand for location to three conceptual factors: amenity, agglomeration and serendipity:

  • Amenity is the presence of a specific feature or locationally-bound service, which creates value for others. This could for instance be a beautiful park, a department store, or a centre of public administration. Often these are found in city centres, where they can service the largest population catchments. 
  • Agglomeration is a colocation of symbiotic businesses, industries or people that create value for each other. This could for instance be a shopping centre, a tech accelerator or a science park. It is people rather than places that drive agglomeration, and high energy agglomerations can typically be found at the convergence of many different influences in our densely populated cities. 
  • Serendipity in this context is an unplanned encounter that creates value for the individual that experiences it.  This could be an overheard conversation which leads to a business opportunity, or bumping into a stranger, who becomes your romantic partner. It goes without saying that the more people you bump into on a daily basis, the more likely it is that one of these encounters will prove valuable to you.

These three factors underpin most forms of demand for a specific location. Over time they have evolved from base factors of amenity (such as founding your village next to a river), through to complex commercial ecosystems found in modern day cities. In the modern world where we can build upwards and travel outwards at greater convenience, new value factors, such as density, accessibility and use limitations have also come into play, supported by regulatory and planning constraints introduced over the past century. This has created a much more complex and more managed pattern of values, upon which 21st century cities have been based.  However, once again, the game is changing, with digital disruption now unsettling old orders and creating novel value drivers. 

In particular, in a world where shopping and clerical work can be carried out without leaving your front door, the value placed on being near to something else (for instance a shopping centre, or a central business district) is starting to wane. This in turn releases some of the pressure on these dense demand pinpoints that have developed and intensified over the past 400 years. 

What is less easily digitally replicated (at least for now) is serendipity. You can’t bump into someone unexpectedly in your home. It has been a common criticism of post-pandemic remote working; that whilst designed 1:1 interactions have worked quite well using digital media, unplanned interactions and edge of network connections have suffered considerably. This is significant, and informs how the value, purpose and success factors around place might shift over the coming decades. As old factors of functional amenity become less relevant, more emotional and complex factors such as serendipity, belonging, experience and ego rise in importance. 

The challenge for the real estate industry is that our places and buildings have not until very recently been designed with these factors at their core.  Shopping centres have focussed on accessibility and functional layouts. Offices have historically been designed as places to keep dry and comfortable, whilst carrying out clerical tasks, largely in isolation. Digital disruption has driven a coach and horses through these former value drivers. Why would workers now bother incurring the time and costs of commuting to replicate value drivers that they could achieve at home?

This now frames a challenge to those designing, owning and managing offices to switch up the game. Successful new spaces need to put the ability to collaborate, derive personal identity and expose workers to valuable experiences and connections at the core of their offer, rather than as a retrofitted afterthought. This will require a new look at which locations, use mixes and service agglomerations are best placed to deliver this.

This blog summarises elements of content from ‘Reworking the Workplace’, in anticipation of its general release by RIBA Publishing on 1 June 2023. The book explores the future of work, workplace and the city in the face of global disruptors. It provides data, concepts and frameworks, historic analysis and 50+ cutting edge case studies, across three thematic areas of People, Purpose and Place. Further weekly sneak previews in this format will follow leading up to general release!  

Follow: #reworkingtheworkplace on Twitter and LinkedIn

Preorder: To pre-order your copy of Reworking the Workplace click the link here: At the RIBA Bookstore, and On Amazon 

To get in touch with the authors, Nicola Gillen, Richard Pickering plus other co-authors as appropriate 




Re-working the Workplace blog post 4 banner

This synopsis is taken from the soon to be published book: ‘Reworking the Workplace’ which explores how the workplace has and will continue to change in the face of global disruptive trends. The book provides exploratory and conceptual thinking and frameworks, historic analysis, cutting edge case studies, and contemporary data, across three thematic areas of People, Purpose and Place  

Office workers in general have the freedom to choose when and where they work based on the tasks they are completing, so why are organisations so surprised that the majority are choosing to predominantly work from home when basic economic choice shows that people are most likely to choose

  1. The easiest option – not leaving the house,  staying where I am.
  2. The option with the most immediate short term benefit – working from home saves me time and money (no commute)

(the above example is true if you have the ability to work from home effectively).

To be enticing for employees, working from the office needs to 

  • Show a good return on investment on the time and money it takes to travel there 
  • Provide magnetic and compelling experiences that are not possible when working from home or a coffee shop.

Looking to the future the role of FM teams needs to evolve from predominantly focusing on the invisible basics which people only notice when they go wrong, the building, equipment, maintenance and cleaning services the ‘Mechanics’ of the workplace experience to also focus more on the ‘Humanics’, the interpersonal workplace experience that creates emotional and meaningful workplace connections. We need to think about activating the space by ‘Operationalising the workplace’, This means optimising the experience opportunities, both mechanic and humanic. Being intentional about how the services complement the working environment and activate the desired employee behaviour and organisational culture:

  • What is the purpose of the office beyond a place to get work done?
  • Are we providing what our diverse workforce actually needs, or sticking with the habit of history and doing what we have always done while wondering why occupancy levels remain low?
  • How can we rethink how we traditionally deliver workplace services to maximise and complement new patterns of office occupation?

We define workplace experience (WPX) as the aggregated touchpoints that connect people, purpose and place. When these touchpoints combine they provide an enjoyable, stimulating and productive experience they make a visit to the office worthwhile, and sometimes even essential.

Commonly these touchpoints fall under different organisational domains, and are designed and implemented independently.  Often the space strategy and design are completed with little or no consideration having been given to the long term service design and experience curation, resulting in a disconnected and unappealing WPX.

Looking to the future if we want our office to be relevant, and magnetic to draw people in, organisations and workplace practitioners should: 

  • Map and challenge the traditional workplace archetypes by rethinking the meaningful moments that matter, considering the holistic workplace experience.
  • Take an integrated approach to design and delivery with input from service partners, facilities management, real estate, human resources, IT and business representatives.
  • Know your audience, be intentional and design for the desired experience outcome, how do you want people to feel and what do you want them to remember so they return?
  • Put in place measures that matter not simply ones that are easy to capture to drive the desired behaviors and outcomes.

This blog summarises elements of content from ‘Reworking the Workplace’, in anticipation of its general release by RIBA Publishing on 1 June 2023. The book explores the future of work, workplace and the city in the face of global disruptors. It provides data, concepts and frameworks, historic analysis and 50+ cutting edge case studies, across three thematic areas of People, Purpose and Place. Further weekly sneak previews in this format will follow leading up to general release!  

Follow: #reworkingtheworkplace on Twitter and LinkedIn

Preorder: ‘To pre-order your copy of Reworking the Workplace click the link here: At the RIBA Bookstore, and On Amazon 

To get in touch with the authors, Nicola Gillen, Zoe Humphries plus other co-authors as appropriate


Humans at Work banner

Despite a tumultuous last three years, the working landscape continues to shift in response to global events. Still trying to work our way through what a post-pandemic workforce could look like, this challenge has been further compounded by rising energy, commodity pricing and soaring inflation. The associated cost of living crisis has real implications, both for workers and also for how the work model emerges and a critical point in its reformulation. 

The missed opportunity of DEI&B? 

So how does this continue to reshape our relationship with work, organisational culture and community? During the midst of the recession, we dreamt of how the pandemic could reshape where we work, who was working, and how work was enabled. 

A major cultural movement to gain momentum in the past few years is Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEI&B); the latter making its way into our vernacular within recent months as a reflection of the expectations we have from our work and work-communities. Expanding the availability of hybrid or remote roles provided those who have previously been excluded from the physical workforce (or even education) the same access to opportunities. In 2020 this appeared to offer a significant opportunity for employment equality for those with disabilities who were unable to access the physical office environment. However, recent data from both the US and the UK highlight that rates of people with disabilities in the workforce fell during the pandemic and is yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. 

People living with disabilities are often disproportionately affected during recessions, facing additional barriers to finding and maintaining employment and may be more likely to experience poverty and social exclusion. With that in mind, the promise of expanding where work can be done to increase the proportion of the demographic who are able to work, appears to have not yet materialized. 

As many organisations spend time developing ESG and DEI&B policies on how to create a culture of inclusivity, diversity and social value, we must ask ourselves whether we have optimised the opportunity that the pandemic offered us to create a more equal work community through hybrid and remote work. 

AI and elimination of explicit knowledge

Three years on from the first mass-adoption of hybrid working, we stand on the precipice of the next major technology shift; Artificial Intelligence (AI). Over the last 12 months, there has been an explosion of online, free-access tools that have reshaped the way we write articles, design websites, even the way we take school tests. This technology has the opportunity to revolutionize the way in which we design workspaces and cities, by synthesizing large-scale data sets, such as user needs, energy pricing, consumer spending, office utilisation, commute patterns and employee health factors. Through AI’s superior ability to take explicit information and consolidate at rates not possible by humans, we are on the brink of the first generation of mass-automation. 

However, with these opportunities comes another major shift in the way we work. Jobs that are based on the transfer of explicit knowledge, such as those that rely heavily on routine and rule-based tasks could be automated. If there is a manual or a process to follow, AI is likely to be able to follow it. And now, even non-linear processes based on unstructured data are in scope for change. 

So, what does this mean for the future of work and organisational communities? Recent research by Cushman and Wakefield, based on insights from Dr. Karen Stephenson’s ‘Quantum Theory of Trust’, found that teams that work together (in an office) generally have more tacit, social capital. They invest in new relationships with a wider and more diverse range of contacts that develop better outcomes in learning, career development, innovation and ultimately, a greater sense of employee belonging and engagement. And there are organisational benefits too, studies from Gallup find that organisational with higher levels of social capital are 21% more productive and 22% more profitable. 

In contrast when we work fully at home, we tend to focus on human capital; the job at hand, working in hierarchies and following the rules and processes set out by the organisations. The implication is that in much of the same way that over the last few years we needed to transfer tacit knowledge to explicit, to ensure the success of hybrid work, we must now prepare to hand over these explicit tasks to AI. If I can find ways to innovate and learn asynchronously using existing data; so, can AI. 

So what is the implication for the future of work?

The limit for AI is the inability to work with tacit information that doesn’t yet exist, placing the value of human thinking more so on lateral, problem-solving and emotional intelligence. Therefore it is likely that we will see the role of humans at work start to shift towards these capabilities. This is likely to precipitate a shift in the skills and types of workers employed within industry sectors, and a need for new actors to come together and share knowledge to develop ideas.

The implication on workplace?

Our research shows that activities such as creativity and problem solving may be more effective, enjoyable and deliver higher-quality outcomes, when people work physically together. Networks are more diverse, we reach out to people from outside our day-to-day engagements to learn, receive or give mentorship, making the value of togetherness more important than ever. It just so happens that organisations facilitate this togetherness in physical place, but as per post pandemic-rhetoric, the value of this space is to facilitate relationships and not just deliver head-down work.

What’s next?... 

Despite the many changes over the last few years, the role and value to individuals of being together has endured if not grown. However, the changing culture of work, placing hybrid work and health at its centre provides opportunity to create more inclusive work communities. In addition, digitalization continues to facilitate the transfer of tacit workplace relationships and networks into explicit products and services, such that the communities we build can be more geographically dispersed. However, re-working the workplace offers a unique canvas from which to facilitate human connection as we start to solve these challenges. After all, what is the workplace if not to facilitate the experience of being humans, together.

This blog summarises elements of content from ‘Reworking the Workplace’, in anticipation of its general release by RIBA Publishing on 1 June 2023. The book explores the future of work, workplace and the city in the face of global disruptors. It provides data, concepts and frameworks, historic analysis and 50+ cutting edge case studies, across three thematic areas of People, Purpose and Place. Further weekly sneak previews in this format will follow leading up to general release!

Follow: #reworkingtheworkplace on Twitter and LinkedIn
Preorder: ‘To pre-order your copy of Reworking the Workplace click the link here: At the RIBA Bookstore, and On Amazon

To get in touch with the authors, Nicola Gillen, Sophie Schuller plus other co-authors as appropriate.


Nicola Gillen
Nicola Gillen

EMEA Lead, Total Workplace
London, United Kingdom

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Richard Pickering
Richard Pickering

Head of Innovation, EMEA
London, United Kingdom

+44 (20) 32963620

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Sophie Schuller
Sophie Schuller

Partner - Lead Scientific Research and Insights
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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June Koh London (image)
June Koh

Total Workplace Partner
London, United Kingdom

+44 2032962174

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Zoe Humphries

IFM Workplace Experience Director
London, United Kingdom

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Andrew Phipps
Andrew Phipps

Global Head of Sustainability Thought Leadership
London, United Kingdom

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Rachel Casanova (image)
Rachel Casanova

Sr. MD, Workplace
New York, United States

+1 (212) 6982666

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Laura Danzig
Laura Danzig

Head of Sustainability & Wellbeing, Southern Europe
Barcelona, Spain

+34 93 467 27 55

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