Speculate To Accumulate: How We’re Helping Create Enticing New Workspaces For Businesses Across The North West

| Leanne Forshaw Jones

Our team at office agency Canning O’Neill offer clients much more than just agency advice. We‘re proud to surround ourselves with likeminded consultants with whom we collaborate across our commercial property portfolio.  Among them is Freddie Evans of architecture and interiors studio AXI.

We’re currently working with Freddie on a new fitout at Royal London’s One New York Street in Manchester; here Freddie tells us about the importance of creating new, dynamic office spaces that help employers attract workers back into the office.

Business owners are facing a huge battle right now as they establish places to work that win over their staff’s inclination to work from home (WFH).

Their choices are often limited; in Manchester we know there’s a shortage of shiny, new Grade A office space, with any new buildings quickly snapped up.

There are limitations with older stock too, with tired buildings offering corporate environments of old, something that’s just not as appealing for the people working inside.

That’s why we’re working in collaboration with the likes of Manchester-based property agency Canning O’Neill and forward-thinking landlords, helping them revitalise existing stock to create engaging, comforting and well-designed spaces that appeal to occupiers.

Our track record

Designing workspaces is something we’ve got a lot of experience in; AXI was born out of our frustration in seeing a constant detachment between the architecture and the interior of a scheme.

Too often there seemed to be a disconnect between the two professions, despite clearly being so intrinsically intertwined. We set out to remove this separation, ensuring a creative vision can be delivered in a cohesive and considered manner, to create a studio where architecture dovetails with its interior.


Now, we’re applying that expertise on buildings like One New York St, where we’re evolving designs for a fully fitted suite on the 4th floor – offering future occupiers a turnkey solution. This is an increasingly popular option for businesses who want to walk in the door without hassle.


What occupiers want

It’s also a way of offering occupiers an office space that will appeal to their workers and what they are demanding from their environment.

Long gone is the appeal of a linear run of desks; occupiers today want an emphasis on communal spaces, kitchens, and gyms. They want community, but they also need places of solitude, places to think and speak on calls – places like nooks and booths that are a welcome contrast to their desk.

People want nature, something we’ve learned the importance of this past few years! Biophilia is dominating the trends, with more planting to bring the outside in.

Sustainability is also key in a world where workers are more conscious about their carbon footprint.  We’re addressing this by responsibly sourcing materials and furniture, as well as once again fusing our architecture and interior expertise to ensure that we’re helping the landlord with a strong EPC rating for their building. It’s also about encouraging sustainable travel, and in buildings like One New York Street, we’re looking at plans to enhance bike stores and showers.

Canning O’Neill is also experiencing a significant rise in enquiries for the ‘fitted and furnished’ offers that many of the more ‘reactive’ landlords are now offering in addition to conventional space in their buildings.

Occupiers are generally looking for more flexibility in terms of lease lengths and want to move into space that is ready to operate from immediately. It also means less capital expenditure and they are prepared to sacrifice the initial incentives that are usually offered to sign a lease by a landlord if they are getting fully fitted space.

Staying ahead of the curve

Our recommendations for clients come from trend forecasting and drawing on own experience – we’ve done this on many buildings in Manchester and across the UK. We have a lot of experience in the commercial property market, capturing new trends and fusing architecture and interiors designs that capture what the market needs.

The top office trends

The top trends we’re seeing this year are on lobby and reception areas, with landlords putting an emphasis on ‘scene setting’ in their buildings. Many of our clients are investing heavily in that area, tailoring the user experience with functional spaces that can be used for meetings and events, as well as fitness suites, and communal kitchens – again encouraging interaction.

It’s proving a success and in the buildings, we’ve refreshed in Manchester landlords have seen them swiftly let – even in cases where we have just refurbished a single floorplate or unit, the refurbishment often acts a catalyst for interest in the rest of the space, helping to achieve rental growth and maximise the value of the asset.

It is the perfect example of speculating to accumulate, and a way of helping landlords fill their buildings, with happy productive people who want to choose their spaces over home.