Navigating Disruption in the Tech Space in London, UK | Tenant Talks Recap

Navigating Disruption in the Tech Space in London, UK: a Tenant Talks Recap

On February 26, 2021 Habit Action hosted the latest edition of our virtual speaker series, Tenant Talks™, this time with a spotlight on the technology industry

We wanted to find out: in a post-pandemic world, with the majority working from home, why do you actually need a physical office? What will be its key purpose? 

And what processes have changed during Covid19 that have brought new habits not to be lost?

Panelists included representatives from Citrix, Wise (formerly Transferwise), Veeva Systems, and Service Now. Rocky Ozaki, Founder & CEO of NoW of Work Inc., facilitated the discussion. Our host was William Rabey with Habit Action. 

Is remote working here to stay? Is business running as usual? What processes have changed for the better? Here’s what we learned: 

(More of a watcher than a reader? Watch the video recording of the event here.)  


Question #1: What is the biggest aspect of change for this future tech workplace?

Rares Miron, Director of Real Estate & Facilities EMEA at Citrix Systems shared the idea that we now view the physical workplace in a completely different way than we used to. 

“I’m thinking about the shift from the workplace being pretty much the synonym for “office” to being location where work is done,” he said. 

Moderator Rocky Ozaki, founder of Now of Work, backed Rares’ way of thinking by introducing the idea that it’s about choice. He mentioned the idea that some people want to get up and go to work every morning, to separate work and home completely. And some people are perfectly fine to work from home. And Rocky agreed that it is important to give people that choice.

Lewis Barker, Senior Manager of Workplace & Real Estate EMEA at ServiceNow drove this point home even further. He even brought up the possibility of losing valuable talent by not offering them the choice of working in the office or working from home. 

Another point that Lewis brought up was the importance of following up on your promises as an organizational leader. Before COVID, employers would engage with their employee base just to engage. But now it’s more important than ever to act on the feedback given by employees. 

He said, “I think now, if you don’t act upon that feedback, you’ll learn to regret it.”

Next up, panelist Darren Graver, Office Expansions Lead at Wise (formerly Transferwise), introduced the idea of beginning to see the workplace as a product

Darren explained further, “We’re taking data insights from various different points within the workplace and then dynamically shifting what we do either with the space or with our teams or other areas.”

Angel Mieites, Director of Workplace and Facilities in Europe at Veeva Systems finished this question off in agreement with the other panelists. He brought up the fact that his staff are able to work from home or at the physical office. He said it’s about where they feel most productive


Question #2: What’s the relationship going to look like between people and the tech workplace in the future?

Lewis had some great ideas about what the future relationship between people and the workplace will look like. He mentioned two key points:

  • Keeping in close contact with HR
  • Hyperpersonalization

Angel reiterated his earlier point about productivity. The relationship between the person and the workplace is going to depend on where they feel most productive. 

Darren and William talked a little bit about the idea of not worrying so much about the cost per square foot (or whatever your project is measured in), but placing more value on the person – on the employee. 

Rares ended this question by bringing up the topic of employee expectations surrounding the workplace. 

“We need to acknowledge that employee’s expectations have changed after experiencing working remotely for a long period of time,” Rares said. 

Next we asked our panelists and audience a poll question: How many days a week do you wish to work from home in the future?

67% of respondents said 1-2 days per week 
Majority of the rest said 3-4 days per week


Question #3: What is the one biggest pitfall to avoid in thinking about workplace change?

Darren said one of the biggest pitfalls is assuming that a one-size-fits-all approach will work for everyone. He mentioned that’s not only for employees, but comparing yourself to other organizations as well. If something works for one organization, it might not work for yours. 

“For me it starts with a user centric approach when we’re thinking about the pitfalls,” he said. 

Rares piggybacked on Darren’s idea by mentioning that “new ways of working” could mean completely different things to different companies. 

“I would say you need to figure out what’s the best way forward for your own business context,” he finished. 

Question #4: With so many differing opinions, how do I work out what is the right solution for my own future tech workplace?

Lewis said it’s mostly about getting all the right people in the same room to talk about future strategy. He said this is where it has to start and it’s about making sure everyone is on the same page as each other. 

Darren then brought up the concept of agility. He said it’s not about creating one-size-fits-all spaces, but rather about the ability to be flexible and change things when they need to be changed. 

Angel’s main point was that there is no right solution, but rather trial and error. He said it’s the unpredictability of our current environment (and any environment) that makes it hard to predict exactly what will happen. Instead, we have to be flexible and quick to react to change. 

“The only key is being flexible,” Angel said. 

Rares finished off this question by recommending that organizations start small which is most practical. He compared the pandemic to a journey and that for any journey, what you need is a roadmap


Then we asked another poll question: Given the length of lockdown and current updates how do you expect this to impact your office footprint in the next 12-24 months?

45% (the majority) said not at all or only a slight change 


We finished off the discussion with a few rapid fire questions for our panelists.

Rapid Fire Questions:

#1. What are you most excited about in the future workplace?

Angel: “Just to embrace flexibility and change.”

Darren: “To embrace research at the workplace.”

Lewis: “Creating an unknown work space for the future.”

Rares: “Allow our employees a platform.”


#2. What’s the ONE trend you think will stick in the future workplace?

Lewis: “Flexibility.”

Rares: “Flexibility, absolutely.”

Darren: “Workplace data.”

Angel: “More technology.”


#3. When travel resumes to “normal” where is the first place you’ll visit?

Rares: “I’ve been to Japan and it left a lasting impression. I want to return ASAP.”

Angel: “Reconnect with my team members around Europe and Israel”

Darren: “See my team. I started remote so I’ve never met some of my team in person.”

Lewis: “Since you can’t choose everywhere, I’ll go with Tel Aviv, Israel.”


To listen to our panelists’ full discussion and find out what else our audience asked, watch the full TenantTalks™ video recording here.

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