The 7 top mistakes to avoid when renovating your home.

Renovating your home might seem like an arduous and daunting task. There are a lot of factors that go into this process, at both the design and construction stages, which could be confusing and overwhelming to you. When going through this, it is vital to plan all the important elements before you start the work, to make sure there are no complications or unexpected surprises. These elements need to be considered regardless of whether you are building a new house or renovating your existing home.

Aside from the design elements, there are a few other things you would need to consider in this process. These might seem small and insignificant, but if ignored, these small things can lead to a lot of significant, inconvenient, and even disastrous results. To help prevent that, we have put together a list of the most common mistakes to be mindful of, while building your perfect space. Keep those in mind to achieve your desired results within your budget and within the best possible timeline.

Renovating your home might seem like an arduous and daunting task.

Don’t #1: Build without permit.

Always be aware of the required permits, and apply for them in time, to prevent any complications later on. For structural changes or even lighter changes in the case of a monument, you will have to obtain permits from the different local authorities. Ask your architect for help to understand if and which permits must be applied for and how to go about the process. Always follow the rules and make sure to have your permit approved before starting any work on site.

Don’t #2: Hire a contractor without a contract.

Always make sure to have contracts in place between you and any professional you hire. Signed offers or quotes are often not enough. Go over all details of the project, the contract and the terms and conditions, before starting your work. If the words in the contract are too technical and difficult to understand, don’t worry. This is perfectly normal. Just ask your architect and/or someone from legal or with past experience to help you with this. Not having a valid contract, especially with your contractor, could lead to major misunderstandings and liability problems down the line. Make sure to always hire an experienced contractor with positive reviews from your architect and their own previous clients, to avoid a difficult or unreliable working relationship.

Don’t #3: Underestimate the timeline for your project.

Before starting your project, make sure you estimate a rough yet realistic timeline for your project. Your architect would be able to help you with that. This would include the time to create a good thorough design, find a good contractor, procure the necessary materials, get the permit approvals from the local authorities, and build the project of course. Always build in a buffer time as well, as such processes are bound to have delays and unexpected changes. So account for the unexpected! Your timeline may also be subjected to changes depending on the contractors and/or the materials suppliers’ availability, production and shipping capabilities. Having a realistic timeframe in mind will also ensure that you and your architect are on the same page regarding the scope of your project.  

Don’t #4: Underestimate the cost of your project.

Always make sure to have a good estimate of the costs of your project to make sure your finances match the scope you want to get done. The cost estimate would depend on whether your project needs to undergo heavy structural construction, plumbing and/or electrical works, the materials you choose, the size of the place, and other design and construction elements. With the help of your architect, arrive at an accurate estimate of the project to help you keep your finances in check. You may need to pick and choose what to do and what to give up, or you can prioritize what you do now and what can be done later. This will ensure you have enough for all the work you plan to do, as well as prevent last-minute surprises, especially if you have a tight budget. Always make sure you leave an extra buffer for contingencies in your budget for any unforeseen circumstances or last-minute wishes!

A good architect and a good contractor will be able to guide you through these factors and considerations, to ensure your project goes smoothly.

Don’t #5: Forget to check the status of works during construction.

A good architect will keep a close eye on the construction site during construction and will keep you updated of all developments and any major setbacks. However, if you decided to manage the project and supervise construction by yourself, you must keep in close contact with your contractor and visit the site regularly, to make sure you are satisfied with the construction as and when it is being done. If anything is not as it should be, make sure to flag that to the contractor as soon as possible. This will help prevent confusion and last-minute changes, which would lead to more time and money going into correcting mistakes, ones that could have been prevented or corrected much earlier. During the construction phase, seeing things in person would be easier for you to get a comprehensive idea of your project rather than visualising things through drawings. Communication is key, so make sure to meet or communicate with your architect and/or contractor on a regular basis.

Don’t #6: Change any design elements with suppliers without consulting your architect.

It is not uncommon that after you and your architect have finalised the design of your kitchen for example, and as you finalise the order with the kitchen supplier at the showroom, the supplier’s representative proposes a change to the design for whatever reason. Always check with your architect before agreeing to any changes with the supplier. The reason is, a change in the kitchen can have a bigger impact on the rest of the house, not only in design terms but also in technical terms, such as electrical and plumbing connections for example. A change that may seem minor to you, can have huge consequences that would cause changes in other aspects of the project. Those changes can cost you a lot of time, money and inconvenience, especially if permits are already approved or construction has already started. If you have doubts regarding design elements for your home that you had previously decided with your architect, make sure to discuss them with the architect themselves. Together you can find a solution. Your architect has the overall picture of the project in mind and will be able to advise on the consequences of any changes.

Don’t #7: Buy low-quality or cheap furniture.

Always choose durable and good quality furniture for your space. Saving up on furniture by buying low quality and/or furniture that can be used only selectively, such as furniture in loud colours, would lead to added costs at the end of the day. Having said that, there are reasons why buying temporary furniture would be smart, such as with young kids or if you are planning on renting out your house. If however, you are creating the house for yourself, it would be best to choose good quality materials, finishes and furniture. Good quality does not have to be expensive, when you are not also paying for a brand. Overall, make sure you are not “penny wise and pound foolish”, as the saying goes.

A good architect and a good contractor will be able to guide you through these factors and considerations, to ensure your project goes smoothly. Of course, these are just a few of the many things you must consider when building or renovating your house. Many other factors could derail your project and cause changes to your estimated timeline and finances but addressing these 7 don’ts will at least ensure that the basic fundamentals are all considered.

Whether building a new house or renovating your own, keep the big picture in mind and make sure to plan long term. Above all, keep the communication open with your architect, contractor and any other professionals helping you through this process.

If you are considering building a new home or renovating your own and need help to create your ideal project, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Optimising your roof space and creating a rooftop terrace.

In high-density cities, it might not always be easy to find an outdoor space just for yourself, away from the city’s noise and banter, and easily accessible. If you have a flat under-utilised roof, you need not look any further. You may be able to tap into all of its potentials by converting it into a liveable roof space instead. Being multifunctional, a flat roof could act as an extension of your home and will add benefits to your living conditions. You can choose the perfect function for your roof space based on your lifestyle, your hobbies, and requirements and convert this into your personal outdoor pod away from the hustle of the city.

There are a lot of options when it comes to designing your perfect roof terrace. You could opt for a lounge space with a backrest of planters, a barbeque area, a custom-built outdoor kitchen, you could even choose to have a fireplace with outdoor seating! Engaging an architect can be a good idea to get help with deciding on various elements of the roof terrace, such as the access to your space, the lighting, electric points, water connections, plants, and furniture. A few other elements you could add to your roof terrace space are lounge sofas, planters, pergola shades, an outdoor kitchen, a pizza wooden oven, a bar table, and even hammocks. Since roof spaces in dense cities can be small, it is important to make sure you optimise the use of your (potentially limited) space as best as possible.

If you have a flat roof and are looking for ideas to spruce it up and add an extra something for relaxation, you could turn it into a green roof. This could act as an additive space for meditation and other activities and even end up as your own personal park. Green roofs also absorb the rainwater falling on the city, and this would be beneficial for the city too, as it would reduce street runoff. The benefits are many, from aesthetic value, personal space, and making your house more eco-friendly.

You can choose the perfect function for your roof space based on your lifestyle, your hobbies, and requirements and convert this into your personal outdoor pod away from the hustle of the city.

You can choose to create any of the following three types of rooftop gardens or ‘green’ roofs or even a combination of them.

1. Ornamental green roofs

These are the types of green roofs that are primarily for leisure and enjoyment. You could provide a small green space with seating nearby, where you can entertain your guests or simply use it as a space for yourself.

2. Functional green roofs

These green roofs are mainly vegetable gardens, where you can grow herbs and other vegetables. You can grow your own organic produce here to always ensure a fresh supply and even reduce your grocery expenses.

3. Natural green roofs

These green roofs are made of naturally occurring plants and weeds, which are low-to-no maintenance. These provide aesthetic as well as sustainable benefits.

In the case of a renovation of your already existing terrace space, you can also opt for extra insulation and solar panels, to make your home more sustainable. This will help in turn by reducing your energy costs, and making your home more comfortable to live in!

To help you through the process of designing and building your roof terrace, we have noted the different points you would need to be aware of and carry out:

  • Do you need a permit?
    You need to start by checking if you need to apply for a permit from your municipality for such a renovation. If you are planning to hire an architect, they can also help check the permit requirements that apply to your situation. An architect will also be able to prepare all the drawings and documentation needed for a permit application and coordination with the concerned authorities. Follow the correct rules and apply for the permit on time.
    Also, make sure you wait for the permit before starting the construction process, to prevent any complications later on. Privacy would be one of the main considerations for the permit, so in case your rooftop space looks over your neighbour’s property, you might have to think about a solution for that.
    If you would like to know more about renovation permits in The Netherlands, check out this previous article of ours here.  In it, we discuss the importance of applying for a permit in time, the different types of permits in the Netherlands, and other risks associated with that process.
  • How much might it cost?
    Whether you are newly constructing your rooftop terrace or renovating your already existing space, with the help of your architect, make sure to correctly estimate the required cost for your project. The cost estimate would depend on whether your project needs structural supports, the materials you choose, and the size and other construction elements of your roof terrace. An accurate estimate of the project would help you keep your finances in check and ensure you have enough for all the work you plan to do, as well as prevent last-minute surprises, especially if you have a tight budget. Also, make sure you leave an extra margin in your cost estimate for any unforeseen circumstances. You can create an accurate estimate and stick to it by deciding on the design priorities for your space.

    If you are curious about the different costs of a renovation, or you are trying to estimate the costs for your own upcoming renovation, you might like to read our other articles here. In that article, we explore how to come up with a good estimate for your intervention taking into account the different factors of the project. We also include information about the different steps to be considered in the case of a renovation.

  • Is it technically feasible?
    Check the structural integrity of your home and the stability of your roof. You need to ensure that the existing structure is strong enough to take on the extra loads. Otherwise, reinforcement may be required. Your architect and/or contractor would be able to help you with this step. They would also be able to help decide what materials would work best for the basic frame of your project. Also consider if the access to the rooftop space is safe, or if work needs to be done on creating new access.
  • Make the best of the space!
    Ensure you spend time creating the optimal layout to optimise the use of space. There are endless ways to be smart about using a small space to do big things! Use smarter design solutions and manage your priorities by deciding what you want your space to cater to, so you can do more with less space. Make sure not to overcrowd your space with elements, because you will lose flexibility. And the more flexible space is, the better it would be to accommodate more people if required. Also, make sure to use durable furniture, so it doesn’t get damaged by different weather conditions.

With the summer approaching, and specially if lockdown continues, there has not been a better time to consider creating your own private outdoor space. If this all feels overwhelming, a good architect will be able to help you with all of the above. Always make sure to hire an experienced architect who can cover the technical, legal, architectural, environmental as well as aesthetics aspects. A roof terrace is not an easy project, so you might as well make sure that when you do it, you do it right!

Ultimately, a rooftop terrace gives you the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in the privacy of your own home. Opting for a space on your terrace can give you benefits such as energy savings, lower temperatures indoors, and increases your property value and aesthetic appeal. Your rooftop garden could also provide insulation, keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. They also provide the perfect space for relaxation and leisure, whether by yourself or with friends!

If you are considering renovating your roof space and need help designing your perfect rooftop terrace, get in touch with us, we would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

9 interior design styles for your home.

Whether you are renovating your entire home or just one of the spaces, having a good sense of interior design styles will help you create a more cohesive and well-thought look and feel for your house. Interior design styles can be confusing or overwhelming. And one element, such as a material, a texture, a color, or even the lighting; can make or break the look. So where do you start?

The three most important factors you want to consider while renovating your space are the flow, the functionality, and the aesthetic; balancing the individuality of each element as well as how they all come together. In this article, we discuss some of the different styles to help you orientate. If you’re not sure what works best for you, it might be a good idea to consider talking to an architect / interior designer who would help you decide what the perfect style for your space might be.

Some people think in terms of defined style and can imagine their home all in one coherent style such as the industrial or the minimalist style. However, it is also very common that people don’t think in terms of specific styles, but simply in terms of a collection of different elements and items that they like. No approach is right or wrong, whichever group you subscribe to, there are advantages and challenges.

If you are part of the first group, make sure your house doesn’t end up being too predictable, portraying a certain style so perfectly that it becomes impersonal. So, your challenge here is: how to create a holistic coherent look, and still make it your own unique home.

If you are part of the second group, the challenge here is to avoid a mix and match look that fights itself and does not create any coherence. So, the question here is how to integrate the different elements you like, and ensure they come together to form a coherent look and feel. We want to strike the balance between the individuality of the different elements you like and how they come together in a holistic look and feel for your home. Remember, the style you end up with does not need to be a known recognized style with a name; It can be your own unique style.

No approach is right or wrong, whichever group you subscribe to, there are advantages and challenges.

1. Mid Century Modern

If you are inspired by the styles of the 1950-60s, Mid Century Modern could be the style for your home. Opt for easy-to-use contemporary designs that mainly focus on functionality. Abstract and organic shapes both work well with this style, so you could choose to go for clean lines and/or curved forms. You could pick asymmetrical geometric patterns for the decorative items in your space such as rugs, paintings, and wallpaper. Metals, plywood, and medium-toned colors such as browns are good choices for this style. Experiment with round globe lights, pendant lights, or even brass fixtures, to have a perfect mid-century modern space.

2. Minimalist

If you like clean lines, airy and large spaces, opt for a minimalist style for your space. Focus on creating a large open space or the illusion of a large open bright with tons of light and air. Opt for simple, geometric furniture. A minimalist style of interior design highlights functionality, and as the name suggests, ‘Less is more’! So, choosing basic and neutral colors such as black, grey, and white would be the best bet here.

3. Modern

Modern style in interior design refers to the early to mid-20th century designs. This basically includes crisp and straight lines, basic color combinations of three to four colors at most, including a lot of black, white, and some accent colors. Go for simple furniture and lesser accessories in your design for this look. Choosing black metal furniture ties this look together, giving a sleek and comprehensive look to your space.

All the interior design styles described above are just a selection, and as mentioned before, you do not have to apply them by the book. Simply use them as a starting point. In fact, you could play with these styles quite a bit and innovate your own. For example, you can surprise yourself and everyone else by adding to your Scandinavian-like minimalist interior a touch of screaming neon pink!  

Ultimately, you are the one to decide which interior design style is best suited to your taste, personality, and your space. Remember though, that before interior design, several very important aspects need to be considered, such as your layout, flow, composition, and technical aspects to name just a few. If you are considering a renovation and not just an aesthetic makeover, you may want to seek the help of an experienced architect. They will help you with the fundamentals, on top of which interior design styles can be created. Interior design is not just colors and furniture, it needs to go hand in hand with the architecture of the space.

Explore all nine interior design styles for your home.

If you are considering the renovation or a makeover for your home and would like help in deciding which design style is best suited for you, or you simply need a second opinion, get in touch! We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

How might the city look like?

As the majority of the world is still going through a pandemic, there are still some question marks about how the pandemic might affect and potentially change our lives, and how permanent will the changes be. As we are going through this collective change, we cannot help but wonder how will it impact the cities? What are some changes we are currently encountering and might encounter in the future? “This pandemic might change cities forever. What made them attractive is exactly what’s now making them a threat” says Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes, founder of AKKA Architects. Before the pandemic, cities were packed with people who met every day, engaged with one another, and commuted to their offices every day. As working from home became the norm, the way we interact has changed as well, but will this change be permanent? To what extent will cities adapt according to the new restrictions and needs?

Cities and city centers are losing the very attributes that once made them attractive.

The post-pandemic city

Ever since the implementation of the 1.5-meter economy, urban planning and design have adapted accordingly. According to Jerold Kayden, professor of Urban planning and design at Harvard University, the knock-on effects are highly visible during and after the pandemic.1 As businesses have realized that most of the work can be done remotely, office spaces became less occupied and, therefore, fewer meals were eaten at the restaurants and less shopping done in the physical stores. City centers became less populated due to avoiding crowds. Cities and city centers are losing the very attributes that once made them attractive. With less business, less energy, and fewer social interactions, city centers are becoming less popular. As a result, and adding to that the fact that people are not bound to their work location anymore, more and more people are finding it attractive to move out of the city centers to places where they can afford more space, and/or have a better connection with nature. As more people are moving out of city centers, we face the threat that city centers lose their edge permanently. Will the city lose its significant popularity and become a bureaucratic necessity instead?

In the meantime, there are creative solutions being presented to rethink the outdoor space and design accordingly with the current measurements. For instance, in Rotterdam, the architect Harm Timmermans found a solution to local shopping in line with social distancing by creating a 16-square grid design for the open market which can be quickly assembled and allow for local shopping to continue taking place with safety measurements in place.2 Redesigning the public space not only allows for the public to still enjoy going shopping in the city but also supports the local economy which is currently suffering.

The safest and most eco-friendly way to travel during a pandemic is biking.

The post-pandemic city

On the other hand, there are some opinions about not having great changes in the cities post-pandemic. Chan Heng Chee from Singapore University of Technology and Design suggests that the city centers will transform to the extent that their economies will allow.3 There are developing countries which do not have the privilige to implement distancing due to the fact that there is no space available and their infrastructure as well as economical status does not allow for this transition. On the other hand, the priorization of open-air experience will be the biggest driver of innovation and more investments will be made to redesign the outdoor public spaces.4 There will be more outdoor spaces for people to enjoy sports, eating and shopping. Cafes are already turning into to-go places with outdoor sitting spaces instead of indoors and stores only allow a limited number of customers at once as a precaution. Green spaces will increasingly occupy the future of the city planning where the public’s need for fresh air and space with social distancing is met. Hence, more parks will be created. As the public moves away from frequent public transport usage, more and more will adopt alternative ways of transportation such as walking or biking. For instance, in the city of London, the public transport usage fell down by 71 % compared to pre-covid times.5 Governments are encouraging more people to bike or walk to prevent the virus spreading. Hence, in some countries, more bike lanes are being created inside the cities and the governments are introducing more incentives to use these transportation methods. After all, the safest and most eco-friendly way to travel during a pandemic is biking, as we see in the Netherlands, where having this infrastructure long before the pandemic, definitely paid off during the pandemic.

All in all, change is an inevitable consequence of the reality we are currently facing. Some countries can be considered luckier than others, due to having the infrastructure and a more stable economy allowing for quicker adaptation. As the majority of our lives have adapted to the new circumstances, urban design and city planning might change accordingly but to what extent we will have to wait and see in the upcoming future.

Coming out of lockdown is likely to be a gradual process, heavily restricted by a number of measures. What kind of workplace can we go back to? What would it take to make going back to the office work? How do we adapt our workplaces to the 1.5 meters economy? What about the social, psychological, and emotional dimensions of employees’ well-being? If you are looking for help in how to understand your employees’ new needs and expectations and how to create the perfect Hybrid model that suits your organisation, get in touch! We have been helping our clients create a new way of working transform their workplaces we would be happy to assist you too.

Get in touch by filling the form below, or explore how we could help here.

The world of Workplace is increasingly more fascinating and more complex. Through our years of practice designing and building workplaces for organizations, small, medium and large, in various industries and from around the world, we have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and insights, all thanks to our clients.

Whether we work closely with the head of Human Resources (HR), the head of Facilities Management (FM) or the head of Corporate Real Estate (CRE), one thing is clear, these roles have been coming closer together and gaining more and more overlaps over the last number of years. A new role is even emerging that blurs the boundaries between HR, FM, CRE, and even IT and Corporate Communication to name a few. We call this role ‘Workplace Professional’.

Over the last few months, we have been interviewing leading Workplace Professionals in the best companies from around the world. In this series, we engage in conversations with those at the forefront of the world of workplace, to bring you their intriguing insights, best practices, and most successful case studies. Welcome to the Workplace Experts’ Interviews series!

This week, we share the fantastic insights-packed conversation our CEO Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes had on February 5th 2021, with Neil Usher, Chief Workplace & Change Strategist at GoSpace AI. Neil is also the author of ‘The Elemental Workplace‘ (2018) and ‘Elemental Change‘ (2020).

GoSpace is a dynamic occupancy planning application that augments the human ability to allocate workspace to ensure the right people are working together at the right time. Its AI engine can produce actionable scenarios in under a minute.

Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes: Neil Usher, welcome! Wonderful that you can join us. Let’s start with a classic introduction, describing your role in one or two sentences.

Neil Usher: I’ve been a corporate real estate professional for almost 30 years. I started with a qualification in information technology. So I fell into this profession in a slightly accidental way. Most of my career has been spent looking at large organizational portfolios. In 2017, I wrote The Elemental Workplace and continued to consult while promoting the book. I joined GoSpace in February two years ago and last November I published Elemental Change, my second book.

Stephanie: Tell us more about the premise of the first and second books.

Neil: Having been a practitioner for about 25 years in corporate real estate, I realized that it was very difficult to find an overview of knowledge and best practices of the workplace profession. Since I had been doing this for 25 years, I felt it would be beneficial to write it all down and just give my perspective on it all, in as structured a way as possible. In my experience, I had longed for a degree of structure in this field, some sort of framework into which to put my thinking and my ideas, and I didn’t feel there was anything out there that was really helping. So I took on the task of creating it.

Talking to newcomers in this profession, they mentioned that it is hard for them to find credible succinct knowledge and an easy-to-understand summary to use as a guide. At the same time, talking to mature real estate professionals, I discovered they were also finding it difficult to extract themselves from the day-to-day detail and have a clear and concise big picture overview. I found it interesting that such a structured approach was needed for people who’ve been doing this for years, as much as it was for new entrants.

Stephanie: Exactly! It’s an absolutely brilliant book, and I love the framework it is structured in.

Neil: Thank you! I look at it now and think what would I do if I got a chance to revise it all? I think the nature of a lot of what I said would change as well, as the thinking is evolving. The strange thing about writing a book is that at some point in time, you must draw the line and say, it’s done. And once it’s published, you can’t change anything.

Stephanie: Indeed! In your view, how do you think, COVID is and will continue to affect our ways of working and our workplaces?

Neil: That’s the sort of question that everyone is trying to answer. At the moment, it is like we are in the initial period of the launch of a new currency, where people are using the old money and the new money at the same time, and they’re trying to work out whether a price in the new money is actually good value in the old money. We are trying to solve tomorrow’s problems with the knowledge of today’s workplace. Similarly, we are trying to understand the past in terms of the ideas of tomorrow.

I think the future workplace holds a huge amount of possibility and potential. I do think there is a slight disparity between people’s ideas of what the future workplace can be and the practical realities of making that work. The general idea is that somehow we are going to go into the office two or three days a week, and it is all going to be super collaborative, and everyone is going to have a fantastic time and then we’d go home and work on focused tasks. This is not as simple as it sounds. The actual practicalities of that reduced size office are significant.

How do you plan or balance the sort of zoning of a reduced size office? What becomes one of the most complex variables of all – time – in relation to people’s attendance, how do you then refocus the purpose of the workplace? Are we digital-first where we start with nothing and then build the requirements for an office from scratch? Or are we starting with analog first where we take what we have today and start peeling it back and reducing it? So I think there’s a huge number of challenges swirling. I feel we will remove a lot of the waste that we tolerated before. So I do see workplaces being smaller. I see us driving towards much higher levels of utilization of smaller spaces to get the most out of that space.

Then the question becomes: what is the contribution the office makes, as a sort of a performing asset? I don’t think we ever really measured the contribution an office made. We just thought we’ve got a hundred people. They all need 10 square meters plus some space for amenities. So we need 12,000 square meters and that’s the cost of it. But the problem is that most organizations are currently still in a crisis mode. They’re not in a mode of a hybrid operation ‘by design’, but in a sort of reactive mode, not knowing when this crisis will necessarily abate in any way. So most organizations are not really able to plan their way out of, or even prepare their way out of this crisis mode.

I think one of the things that will become refreshing in the future of the workplace is our openness to experiment. Now we have the opportunity to say “this is what I think we should do to start with”. Tweaking it and measuring it, moving with the organization, making the workplace a much more flexible asset than it has been. Rather than live in a sort of static reality that we put all this time, effort, and money into the building, and hope it’s going to last 10 years, we are going to be more open to experiment and adapt.

Stephanie: After surviving for a year without a physical office, now the office has to justify its existence as opposed to being a default of business. So we face the questioning of the asset that is the office and the uncertainty that comes with that.

Neil: As I make the point in the book Elemental Change, uncertainty is a good thing. Most organizations want certainty because it means they can invest appropriately and so they can create linear plans. But that is not realistic. Plus, uncertainty reveals gaps where opportunities open up, and that’s the same with the future workplace. And if we don’t take them, we will miss the single biggest opportunity to create a better world of work and a better world of the workplace that we’ve had in 30 years. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a genuine systemic change that we have to make sure we take.

Stephanie: Absolutely. Speaking of grabbing the opportunity to redefine the workplace, what is your vision on people and their wellbeing as an element to consider to ensure a successful recovery? And is there anything else that you think is required for the workplace, for the employees, for the organizations?

Neil: I think it’s absolutely vital to be listening. If I was to make a criticism of the workplace industry in the past, it would be that it doesn’t listen very well. It is instead very keen to tell people what they should be doing.

We will do a far better job if we listen to occupiers, not just in what they want, but actually, listen to the ways they work and the methods they think might work. The workplace exists in service of the organization, its aims, its mission objectives, values, and purpose. Therefore the workplace has to respond to that, to enable that organization.

Stephanie: That’s beautifully said. And I’ll take that opportunity to zoom out and look at the big picture here for a moment. What would your wish or ideal vision be for the future of work, personally?

Neil:  My favorite catchphrase in terms of a better future of work comes from Bill and Ted, the 1989 film, which is ’be excellent to each other’.

I think just about every problem that we encounter within the workplace could be solved by people being better to each other. Most of it comes down to that. You already mentioned wellbeing in the workplace, Stephanie. And it is exactly that. Why do we lie awake at night? It is not because there aren’t enough breakout spaces in our office or because one’s desk is 20 centimeters too small. What keeps us awake is what someone said to us or didn’t say, or did or didn’t do. It is interactions that cause most of the stress we experience.

Stephanie: And it is interactions that can help the most too!

Neil: Exactly. You know, most companies advertise for team players but evaluate as individuals. So, in an organization, despite the talk about teams and collaboration, the system is still fundamentally based on the individual, which means whilst we bring people together and want them to work together, we are probably at times unintentionally setting them against each other. If we are just better to one another, if we are excellent to one another, we solve most problems in the workplace and we can create a better world of work.

Stephanie: Neil, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights.

Neil: Thank you.

To find out how optimising your workplace can help you retain your employees by fostering better social interactions, download here AKKA’s Innovative Workplace Expert guide, which contains the full version of one of our case studies and more practical examples of other projects that show you how AKKA has increased team engagement and boost productivity over and over again for small, medium and large organisations, in a variety of industries and countries from around the world.

Use your workplace as a strategic tool to attract and retain the best talent.

Are you looking for help with your project?

Fill in the form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


“We would like to express our gratitude for the time you invested in helping us get to a clear picture.  Anna and I really appreciated the call we had with you, your responsiveness, and the great empathy that you exhibited throughout – we certainly felt very “well taken care of” when engaging with you.  On the practical side, we especially appreciated that there was the option to obtain robust bottom-up cost estimates for the construction itself (not every design architect offers this).”

-Private Client of AKKA



Are you interested in requesting a free consultation of your space?

Fill in the form and we will call you within two working days.