Iain Holden
Iain Holden CEO
28 June 2021

Our workplace journey

The world of work has never before been under such a bright spotlight. We’ve had no choice but to adapt, and in doing so we’ve discovered new opportunities for the future of work.

CEO, Iain Holden, reflects on the workplace journey so far, what it means for TSK and millions of organisations worldwide.

Twenty-five years ago, Andrew Burns and I bought the business we worked for from entrepreneur and businessman, Sir David Murray and began our workplace journey. Our aspiration from the start was to turn our eight-person branch, selling office furniture, into a business capable of designing and building office interiors for world-class companies.

In a short space of time, we managed to grow a team with specialist design and build skills, and so our emphasis switched. We were no longer leading with office furniture; we were leading with workplace design and build.

Our workplace journey

Back then, it was a world filled with desktop computers that tied everyone to their individual desks. There were no alternative ways to work in the office. It’s only been in the relatively recent past, as technology has advanced, that we’ve seen a fundamental change in how people work.

At TSK, we’ve been championing activity-based working for some time now to provide people with the variety of settings they need to do their best work. For ourselves and many organisations we work with, flexible working was already in place to some degree, but homeworking was a slow evolution rather than a policy decision.

The pandemic accelerated that change and forced everyone to take one giant leap together. It turned the world of work upside down, challenging us all to reevaluate how we do things.

We started to realise the potential in the investments we’d already made. All that tech that seemed invisible proved to be phenomenal. Our staff members already had Teams loaded on their laptops, it had been there for a couple of years, but we’d never really used it. Overnight, this single piece of technology became critical, allowing us to connect and communicate across a distributed workforce.

The past year has been an extraordinary time – it’s shown us just how resilient and adaptable people are. It’s forced us to experiment, re-evaluate and reimagine a better future for work.

The era of experimentation

There’s never been a time when workplaces have been under such scrutiny. A year ago, there were claims that ‘the office was dead,’ and leaders began to question whether their employees needed an office to go back to.

Our workplace journey

As workplace professionals, this has been an extremely interesting time. We’ve seen first-hand that most organisations can operate remotely and, in most cases, have continued to be productive. But is this sustainable?

Over time, as the novelty of home working began to wear off and that feeling of groundhog day came into play, collectively, we started to notice the issues with working from home 24/7. Some people have been working longer days without respite, others have missed out on training and development opportunities, and most are still craving more human interaction.

Organisations have started to think about the workplace in a new light and are still determining its new purpose, but one thing is certain, simply going back to the way things were will be a mistake.

The built environment is responsible for a massive 40% of total UK carbon emissions. Even before the pandemic, upwards of 40% of the average office was left empty most of the time. Leaders must use this time to re-evaluate their approach. In many cases, organisations will reduce the office floorplate but will create spaces that are better for their people, their business and also the planet.

We’re still on that journey of discovery, and until the world gets back to ‘normal,’ we won’t be able to truly get our hands around the impact of this past year. What it has shown is that when it comes to how and where people work, there needs to be more choices available. Right now, it’s time for piloting new ideas and monitoring the impact. Organisations will need to use data and employee feedback to find the unique potential of the office.

Here are some of the workplaces we have worked on over the years

Want to know more?

We are always happy to talk about all things workplace. Get in touch with our team today to find out how we can help you with your workplace journey here.

Workplace [R]Evolution: Issue 2
Workplace [R]Evolution: Issue 2

With dispersed workforces set to remain, organisations are adopting hybrid working models at a rapid pace, taking learnings from activity based working, utilising technology and empowering employees to choose how and where they want to work. In the second edition of our publication, we’ve explored the challenges and solutions of managing a hybrid workplace, how technology is helping bring people back to the office and the evolution of office design.

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