IE School of Architecture and Design and CPA Tackle Working Environments at NextGen International Talent Taskforce

CPA NextGen and IE School of Architecture & Design have created the NextGen International Taskforce as a collaborative effort to share international talent and learn from each other about the real estate and built-environment industries. NextGen professionals include IE University alumni. They meet bimonthly to discuss topics such as sustainability, inclusion, technology, cities, and wellbeing.

Courtesy of IE School of Architecture and Design

These conversations have the overall goal to bring people together and to use collaboration to shape the future of cities. A global gathering of professionals gathered to discuss the future working environments for those who have done hybrid or remote work.

Different Markets: Returning to Work

The discussion was facilitated by individuals from a variety of countries, including Canada, Spain, South Africa and South Africa. It also included insights about the different stances on how to return to work in each market. The discussion focused on the reasons people choose to return to work or stay home, as well as the benefits of new spaces and reducing carbon footprints.

© Geir Anders Rybakken Orslien

Belinda Duncan, one participant, talked about how Cape Town’s inoculation rates are lower than those in Europe and the UK. This could impact South African office attendance trends. Paula Gonzalez explained how flexible working was a common practice in London prior to the pandemic. It is important to create an environment around the workplace in Paris to encourage people to return to work. Montreal has a similar problem when trying to encourage people to go into the city centre, but sees it as an opportunity for more green spaces.

Overall, the opinion was that the future for offices is changing across all markets.

Courtesy of IE School of Architecture and Design
Health and Wellbeing

When discussing the advantages of working from home over office environments, the theme of health & wellbeing was brought up. Mobility and distance from the office to workers’ homes were the main drivers for returning to work. Research has shown that remote work increases productivity at the expense mental health. However, the pandemic caused a decline in mental health.

Renewable Materials and Sustainable Cities

A key topic was also discussed: the need for research into the potential of timber while acknowledging the need to increase production without causing harm to the environment. Paula Gonzalez noted that timber prices are on the rise due to sustainability requirements for new constructions.

Hamish Crockett described the French embodied-carbon standards and how developers are trying to catch up with regulations around new materials that have lower embodied CO2. There are many tools that can measure embodied carbon. French authorities are also encouraging the use of more experimental materials. However, affordability is a concern as some materials have a high demand and supply is limited.

They agreed that there were alternatives to traditional bricks and mortar. Belinda Duncan explained South Africa’s commitment to local communities through the forestry sector. The housing crisis is however the country’s primary priority. Also, it was mentioned that all Spanish public projects competitions use local materials.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion were also the main focus of the meeting. The United Kingdom’s Emily Laverick asked for the participation of the group in a guidebook that would outline best practices in inclusive design and inclusive workplaces.

They agreed to include all kinds of disabilities in the real estate industry and aimed to make it more inclusive. Hamish Crockett spoke out about a Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners recent project in which people with disabilities were involved in the design process. This allowed them to identify inadequacies in their current processes and allows for improvements.