The second assessment is of the people who are projected to use the building; finance, legal, and insurance industries.  


21st Century Working

It is common knowledge that the world of work is changing, however it is important to isolate first by country, city and sector what are the major trends affecting work. Naturally, a change in the nature of work changes the spaces and tools needed. The key driving force in change is automation. Each business sector is experiencing differing rates of change as a result of technological advancement. What is important to note is that this is not just a contemporary occurrence. In the early 1990’s the finance industry experienced a change in the workforce as interconnectivity and computer processing became more powerful. As a result the dominant skill sets came in data science, with a 90% flip from trader to technologist. However what is being experienced now is greater uncertainty and unpredictability of technological change. Whilst there is technological capability, there is also human aptitude and adoption. This means that there can equally be decisions made by firms to take slower than other choices in fully embracing new technologies.

Whilst business leaders work to identify ideal routes technology offers it is clear that change does not occur overnight. Sectors such as basic retail, customer service and project management are likely to become automated, many traditional interpersonal roles are unlikely to. Some industries deeply rely on human decision making, relationship management and a human touch as a point of difference. The overall effect this leaves is that there are some more traditional industries that will change with technology but not change as a result of it. This means that the workforce itself will need to focus on its human qualities. These will be points of differentiation between companies seeking to win business in a competitive market. As referenced in a McKinsey & Co report, between 2016 and 2030, it is predicted that demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26% in the United States and by 22% in Europe.

From an industry perspective it means that staff more than ever are the asset to be sweated the most. Enhancing the human capital replaces productive capital as the core focus of a company's mission. As McKinsey further note “A key to companies’ future success will be in providing continuous learning options and instilling a culture of lifelong learning throughout the organization.” Their report further highlighted that in Europe in comparison to the USA was 45% to 27% focused on retraining of existing staff to resolve potential a future skills mismatch. In comparison in the 30% to 7% in the view that mainly hiring new talent would solve these problems.

Therefore, certainly in Europe, investment into staff becomes key and environments that cater to this culture and help drive success are the defining factors driving real estate decision making,

Key Traits  

Whilst there are key changes that will occur depending on industry on a macro level, this are the top three key cognitive traits for the 21st Century.

  1. Whilst machines will do complex data analysis the work will still be led by people.

  2. There are many occupations requiring team work where the effectiveness of communication becomes critical. This means that “Face to Face” communication will be a critical point and even commodity for this new era of work.

  3. As industry is presented with more complex problems to solve, there will be a need for “big collaboration” that is the collaboration of highly multidisciplinary teams.


This section will focus on each of the projected industries that will inhabit 70 Saint Mary’s Axe.


Like all other industries the legal profession will be changed by incoming and developing technology. The changes will be from two main sides. The first is that technology will change the way legal firms work and are structured. The second, which is less spoken about is that it will mean a new type of client. Technology is changing everything, it is catapulting each sector to a new era of innovation. Therefore the future clients of commercial law firms will be companies that are dealing with complex ideas and innovations not previously experienced. This will mean that legal firms will be on the lookout for hiring and retaining exceptional talent to deal with this new type of client.

Cognitive Skills

These are the top cognitive skills that will be conducted by this sector.

  1. Processing and retention of information

    1. Lawyers will still need to manage vast amounts of information. They will need to be good at seeking new information, associate it to other bits of information, and then retain it. This helps with the mental management of a vast client list and details of different challenges in each case. The key to building a good case is information and how it is associated to other past information.

  2. Negotiation

    1. Negotiation is an important and complex social skill. It takes many different cognitive attributes and processes, such as cognitive empathy, theory of mind, and facial recognition.

  3. Cognitive Flexibility

    1. Cognitive flexibility is part of executive function that can be defined as the ability to adapt to behaviours or reactions in response to change in the environment. This means that when we are presented with a new circumstance or new new piece of information, we have an ability to make changes or adjustment to our behaviour based on that new information. Some of us are than others at this, those who are good are keen strategists and problem solvers.

Key Changes

  1. More integration of automation to be used to craft cases, generate contracts, and review documents.

  2. More multi-disciplinary teams will be more prevalent as the legal cases become more complex due to how industry is shifting and changing.  This will require more sophisticated HR strategies to attract and retain talent that would not normally choose law as a career. For example, some legal firms may require specialised skills commercial acumen or even scientific acumen.

  3. The law firm of the future may not be a partnership of lawyers, but instead be a multi-disciplinary partnership, a public company or a financial investor-backed private company.”

  4. Lawyers to focus on complex, higher-value work

  5. Clients will work with fewer law firms globally and relationships will be long-term and deeply embedded”

  6. “Currently, computers are most suited to undertaking repetitive tasks and are less suited to perception, personal interaction and social intelligence.”

Relevance to TH: Expectations of Space

  1. Quality of wellbeing offered to tenants will be very important to win over their business

  2. They will prioritise meeting spaces over big open plan spaces. These meeting spaces should provide the right acoustics and lighting to help aide face to face communication. Furthermore, they should offer a contrast to the office space and city which may add to their cognitive load.

  3. They will also prioritise spaces that allow them to think and to perform concentrated solo work. This is highly important to an industry that will need to handle long hours, complex problems, and high levels of information.


Despite these emerging trends, a disconnect exists between the amount of disruption perceived and insurers’ willingness to invest to defend against and/or take advantage of the innovation”. This will play a role at the speed of which the insurance company changes, it doesn’t mean it will not change, however it might do so at a lesser speed than we see in other industries.

Insurance companies will also be dealing with new scenarios, which present problems that are not just new to them but to industry as a whole.

Cognitive Skills

  1. Problem solving

    1. Problem solving has to be done at various levels by all workers, it is the ability to find the solution or resolution to a challenge. In this sector the problems they will solve will be those with little to no reference points. Which will mean this group might find themselves under a lot of pressure and working long hours.

  2. Theory of Mind

    1. This is the ability to extend your mind to another person's state or experience. Imagining how  a person might perceive or experience a specific situation differently from your own.

  3. Cognitive Empathy

    1. There are two type of empathy emotional and cognitive. Cognitive empathy refers to the capacity to acknowledge and understand how one’s behaviour or actions might affect others.

Key Changes

  1. It is an industry that is under threat from another industry (FinTech). However, many are still quite resistant to this.

  2. Cost cutting is now the big issue as insurers need to become more efficient in what is a heavily saturated market.

  3. Any role that involves handling data and making decisions based on the interaction of different data fields could be vulnerable. Many in the insurance industry did their best to ignore the research findings from Oxford University published just over three years ago that warned these roles could be replaced by AI-driven algorithms. This stubbornness to see and adopt change will slow down the inclusion of technology, it can also all of the sudden create a crisis, which the other sectors do not seem to be heading towards.

  4. When the future is adopted insurance will be integrated into all aspects of the user, which is different from the other industries. For example, it could be integrated directly into your car, if you decide to speed, or drive through congested roads etc, it could change in real-time your insurance policy. This will mean providing a service that is quite different from that of today, which will present new problems that have little to no precedent.

Relevance to TH: Expectations of Space

  1. There might be a shift in space acquisition that was not expected due to this industry going through more disruption.

  2. As the insurance industry will be the ones dealing with the most change, spaces that allow for restorative experiences and calm will be desired. This will help manage the stress of heading towards the unknown and dealing very difficult problems.

  3. Insurance is a sector that will prioritises meeting rooms, using them to gather different experts to help transition their different changes.



The most interesting aspects of this sector is that instead of technology being a big contributing factor it is more cultural. It is an industry that currently only 5% of its workforce is under 30 and 55% is over 50 years old. That is a wide gap between the workforces, which can present a challenge on “passing the baton” to the next generation.

Cognitive Skills

  1. Theory of Mind

    1. This is the ability to extend your mind to another person's state or experience. Imagining how a person might perceive or experience a specific situation differently from your own.

  2. Negotiation

    1. Negotiation is an important and complex social skill. It takes many different cognitive attributes and processes, such as cognitive empathy, theory of mind, and facial recognition.

  3. Cognitive Flexibility

    1. Cognitive flexibility is part of executive function that can be defined as the ability to adapt to behaviours or reactions in response to change in the environment. This means that when we are presented with a new circumstance or new new piece of information, we have an ability to make changes or adjustment to our behaviour based on that new information. Some of us are than others at this, those who are good are keen strategists and problem solvers.

Key Changes

  1. The age of financial advisers has been steadily increasing and there are no direct plans for how they will retain the current clients which currently belong to the boomers and x-ers.

  2. The industry is having difficulty in promoting the culture to young people. Young people hesitate with the dealing with older clients, working with dated technology, and the stigma of being a “salesperson”.

  3. Some firms are encouraging the younger generation to collaborate with other departments beyond sales, such as marketing and client meetings.

  4. Some firms are purposefully encouraging transgenerational collaboration to both expose young recruits to older clients but also expose the older generation to new thinking and technology.

  5. “While this is no doubt concerning for many employees, the Big Four firm said automation will also create opportunities for higher-value jobs and allow workforces to reduce repetitive and labour-intensive tasks.”

Relevance to TH: Expectations of Space

  1. Given their cultural change, having a office space that has a strong digital backbone, is programmable, and offers areas away from the desk will be a necessity to attract the younger talent, who expect more than just an office.

  2. Meeting spaces will be prioritise for client meeting but also for collaboration and education purposes.


Trans-generational workforce

Traditional businesses in industries such as law, insurance, and finance (those still most associated with the City of London) represent a higher trans generational representation in the workforce. 20% of the active workforce in the City of London are over 50. Many traditional firms such as the legal profession are very top-heavy regarding age and thus power.

Two issues with age that is a challenge within business are;

  1. 63% of law firms have partners aged 60 or older controlling at least one quarter of total firm revenue. Only 31% of law firms have a formal succession plan. Senior members of staff are compensated very well for overall account ownership and as such have very little reason to retire whilst often well into their 70s and 80s. This is resulting in extending the age and power of the workforce, preventing necessary succession. Within the legal profession there is concern that without systematic planned transitions, that revenue, along with valuable relationships, skills and knowledge, will be walking out the door of many law firms in the next few years.

  2. In addition, top-heavy firms run a classic risk of not appealing to ‘younger’ clients. The global consulting firm EY note that ‘younger clients desire younger financial advisors’. Generation X and Y investors will accumulate close to US$46trillion in assets by the end of the decade, including US$18 trillion in inherited assets from baby boomer parents, yet the average age of a financial advisor is over 50. 95% of financial services leaders admit it’s challenging to find skilled millennials to succeed older workers and attract younger more progressive clients. One method of attraction is clearly financially however more and more firms are endeavouring to attract talent through quality of workplace and how technology-enabled a company is.

As a result it is requiring businesses needing to first cater to diverse physical and psychological needs. Secondly it poses issues of succession in a fast moving business world where at times senior decision making can be slow and not technology driven. As a landlord, service provider, and productivity enabler TH Real Estate's responsibility comes in acknowledging these nuances and ensuring environments are inclusive of the relevant physical and psychological needs.




Even though there has been a rise in people aged 50 and above moving back to city centres due to quality of housing stock, the vast majority commute. A study by Transport for London noted that “commuters from outside London tend to be older on average than London workers – 44 per cent are aged 35 to 49 and more than 20 per cent are aged over 50. The vast majority also use one of two modes of transport to travel to London, with 45 per cent travelling by rail and 40 per cent by car. Given that parking opportunities in the City of London are near non-existent the vast majority will travel via train. Correlating this to a study performed by the Office of National Statistics that highlighted that those who commute more than 30 minutes by train were more likely to report higher levels of anxiety.


There is a lot of talk in how the millennial generation is the future of work. This disregards the high quality productive capital of the “older” workforce. It also is ignorant to needs that can be equally as complex. It has become such an issue that Pew Research has dubbed the generation ‘America’s neglected middle child’. The global workplace indexing standard, Leesman, published in a report that in addition to "those in the 35-44-year age band attention should focus to those in the 45-54 band who have the most complex work activity patterns, so place the highest demands on the infrastructures provided for them.” Global leadership and consultancy company DDI noted in a recent report that Gen X in addition to be loyal, they are craving insight and knowledge from mentors outside of their organisation. 67 percent of leaders said that they would like more external coaching, and 57 percent wanted external development. Insights such as this can be discussed with in coming tenants to ensure the Third Space is meeting their size and facilities requirements.

Whilst technology represents innovation and excitement for younger demographics, it also poses existential threats to older workgroups who begin to feel removed from conversations. Successful workplaces and ecosystems are inclusive of all needs, no matter who shouts the most on Twitter.


Expectations of space for 50+ are not as pretentious as perhaps younger generations who are more inclined to be seeking experience or perks, often to compensate lower quality of life elsewhere. Whilst a lot of attention is paid to the “millennial” generation in culture and design, those over 50 earn significantly more, have greater productivity impacts on turnover, and represent greater loyalty. From the perspective of a business owner a senior member of staff’s productivity is worth more per minute than a juniors in outgoings. For example, a senior non-equity employee at a firm such as Sidley Austin will earn circa £250,000 per annum and a equity partner in the region of £1m+. Over the course of a year, 5 minutes of lost productivity daily from a lack of work environment support can cost a firm from £2,000 to £10,000 per person. Individually these figures are not dramatic but scaling up to firms where 500+ employees are present they demonstrate significant sums of lost productivity that is made up through overtime, resulting in fatigue, poor work, and resentment. With a firm such as Sidley Austin moving into roughly 130.000 sq ft we can expect a staffing level of circa 1000, of which it’s expected on average ratios that 250 will be of the level where a basic productivity loss of 5 minutes per day throughout the year equates to a figure around £500,000 - £2.5m. Scaling this up to 30 minutes per day of low comfort levels and affordances then the figures are a more eye watering £3m-£15m. As mentioned before, senior members of companies tend to be large account holders and drivers of revenue, thus poor attention to health and productivity needs has the potential to impact opportunistic earnings from new business.

Where distractions occur frequently, and resulting in up to 23 minutes to refocus and complete, office environments provide the ability for poor productivity of people who are tackling complex work. It is appreciated that TH Real Estate are not responsible for office fit outs and cultures however it is now the landlords job to ensure that you make up for these losses through asset curation and amenity offer.

Thus, attention to detail in curating built assets to be inclusive of all generations and their respective health requirements, perceptions of wellbeing and work processes help present property owners methods to demonstrate delivering productivity to occupiers. From a design accessibility perspective it is the ability to control artificial light sources and prefer quieter work areas as well as furniture and desk spaces that can be adjusted to different height and comfort requirements. Therefore, with regards to all elements from communal furniture, to meeting room design, and even the lighting in lifts, these factors go into enabling better health and ease at which the building supports them biologically.


At the other end of the spectrum of occupiers the younger generation present different complexities. Paul Rostan, is a trainer of young talent working on Wall Street for firms such as UBS, Credit Suisse and Blackstone was recently interviewed where a key insight was his awareness that the students are “definitely getting more sophisticated." They're coming in with much more capital markets knowledge and corporate valuation knowledge than they did 10 or 20 years ago. Rostan attributes that 'dramatic shift' to the proliferation of news and information available to young people wanting to learn about finance.” The on-demand satisfaction technology provides spills over into other customs, such as the rise of on-demand food services such as Deliveroo.

A report from CBRE in 2016 called Fast Forward 2030 that another form of expectation of young workers is that “35% of graduates in Asia believe they will have the competence to be a manager within 18 months of  first joining the workforce. In contrast, management believes it will take five years. In Asia, in particular, ‘title inflation’ is rampant.” The expectation of results and growth plays against the sometimes slow nature of decision making at legacy firms. This as the publication by CBRE goes on to say explains that in small teams, or even own companies, the desire for responsibility, personal influence and control can be satisfied.


On a non-business element, this is also a generation for whom instant satisfaction in services can be met at the click of a button. Booking flights and checking in to travel the world can be done through a smartphone app without the clunky nature of human error stopping logistical flow. The expectation of services in their lifestyle are all weighed against each other, regardless of the industry.

“We are spoiled by immediacy and become annoyed by tasks that remain at the old level of effort and time. When you can skip the line and buy concert tickets on your phone, waiting in line to vote in an election is irritating.“

From a broader demographic perspective Ann Hagell, a British adolescent psychologist discussed in January this year with the Economist that “today’s young people in Western countries are increasingly ethnically diverse. Britain, for example, has received large flows of immigrants from Africa, south Asia and eastern Europe. Many of those immigrants arrive with strong taboos against drinking, premarital sex and smoking, at least among girls. Ms Hagell points out that teenage drinking is rarest in London, where immigrants cluster.”

Seeking personal fulfilment and security in an uncertain future can be delivered in other formats. “Education is the 'obvious outlet for the money Millennials can spend,' Perry Wong, the director of research at the Milken Institute, told us [the Atlantic Magazine], noting that if young people invest less in physical things like houses, they’ll have more to invest in themselves. In the past, housing was the main vehicle for investment, but education is also a vehicle.” In an ideas economy, up-to-date knowledge could be a more nimble and valuable asset than a house.”

In November 2017 the Economist wrote how progressive “millennials” were changing the investment landscape. In 2008, an heir to the Hyatt Hotels empire fired her bankers and advisers and set up her own family office, Blue Haven Initiative, due to their lack of care, knowledge and advice in impact investing. This growing trend from retail level to large family office stage has had a trickle up effect to Wall Street where from 2012 to 2016 Sustainable and Responsible Investments under management went up by 1/3rd in Europe and more than doubled in the United States of America. Globally the figures stood at $13.3tn in 2012 rising to $22.9tn by 2016. A generation that has “grown up in a digital age, millennials are both more exposed to the world’s woes” is more than ever conscious of social, cultural and environmental impacts as a result of poor investment management. “By 2020 millennials may control up to $24trn, estimates Deloitte. Few will enjoy the lavish retirement guarantees their parents had. They are expected to be vocal about how their pension contributions are invested. Having experienced the financial crisis, millennials are suspicious of financial institutions. They also believe they can change the world. According to a survey in America by Morgan Stanley, 75% agreed that their investments could influence climate change, compared with 58% of the overall population.”


Office building or not, it is perceived as a physical asset providing a service no different to a retail space or leisure space. In each instance, online operations enable a smooth customer journey from start to end. Much to the difficulty of office buildings, retail and leisure spaces are able to adopt more novel technology that supports these journeys such as Augmented Reality. Thus, already an office building appears dated for technological offering over other elements of the built environment from retail spaces to aviation. On a straightforward level it is not acceptable to have poorly operating facilities.

As many younger workers at traditional firms are predominantly deskbound, spaces that afford escape from repetition help balance a psychological need to restore. Given there are no green areas within close distance that are not also surrounded by fast moving vehicles, and there are no retail/leisure spaces beyond basic consumer levels it poses the question of whether this psychological affordance can be met within the building.


.....your occupiers in 10-15 years.

Those entering the workforce in 10-15 years are the end of the Generation Y and what is being known as the early Alpha Generation (born from 2010 onwards). It is hard to predict behaviours or demands but we can take into account some macro elements and assess how they will stand against current trends.

Climate change and our social responsibility is likely to be felt the hardest by this generation who will be inheriting a planet where actions of the past put its very natural existence at threat. They are predicted to be catering for a large proportion of the population in retirement on state benefits and pensions. As such, in managing these hard issues will put ever greater scrutiny on investments, services, and production methodologies.  


Mark McCrindle, a generational researcher, was recently interviewed in the New York Times for his views on the next generations. Important notes were that their parents (millennials) are having children later in life and thus will have older parents, depending on lifestyles and access to healthcare this can mean that from a young age they are devoting time to caring for people. This may have the opposite effect and encourage them to have smaller families as the responsibility of bringing life into a potentially resource-restrained world begs the question of what is appropriate.

They will be more diverse in culture and ethnicity. They are also expected to live much longer, approaching 100 more often and thus take longer views at life with regards to goals and expectations

As such we cannot ignore that green, environmental, and ecological values will be more important and scrutinised than a recycling bin in the corner of an office or a BREEAM certificate. The effects of the legacy started by the millennial generation will be continued by their heirs where transparency is a form of currency.

From a human perspective, a U.S.-wide observational study of over 600 teachers across kindergarten to high school reported that children, as a result of changing attention patterns from technology based instant gratification, their our attention is becoming more selective, they no longer seem to have the patience of “sticking with it” if a task is perceived of low value, i.e. boring.

A question for the future is not only how to protect and enhance the quality of human to human interaction as a result of automation but equally to ensure that built environments are not clunky, slow and unnatural to task completion.


Beyond anything, the key focus must be on the seamless flow of use of spaces, buildings and other built facilities. Generation Y and Alpha are likely to be interacting with AI systems on personal devices and personal robots that have high levels of emotional intelligence. As a result, interacting with built environments and systems that are not in line will reduce natural engagement and value of the service. This requires any building management systems to be constant awareness of subtle needs of humans not outwardly expressed at every moment. This goes from the basic services of ensuring in buildings that thermal and acoustic comfort settings are intuitive and controllable, to buildings abilities to solve facilities related issues before impact, to a real-time rating of its energy consumption in comparison to other services.



In the past three sections we have identified a human issue regarding multi-generational workforces. This will continue in which an AI revolution “will also transform the basic nature of the worker-employer relationship. Richard Tyson, the connected places strategy director at Gensler, the world's largest architecture firm, says AI will help shift the role of managers "from oversight to recruiter, trainer, or coach." This, in turn, could lead to the erosion of traditional office hierarchies, he argues”. “Workers would instead molt into high-performance athletes that demand creative freedom to work – and achieve results – in partnership with specific teams or people rather than a company or supervisor. In the end, companies will engage in a race to implement AI across all facets of their operations, not only to give them an advantage over competitors, but to attract workers who are eager to stretch their (very human) abilities.”



The final section will focus on stress, which is both a necessary part of our daily lives but is also causing considerable challenges. Stress is defined as the ability to adapt to significant external or internal stimuli, complications arise when our experience of stress is either constant or it becomes acute.



Interpersonal relationship changes

  • This can be break up or divorce
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Relationship with management and colleagues


Life changes

Introduction to a new chapter in life such as a new job or even new company strategy


  • Lighting
  • Noise 
  • Pollution



  1. Injury to the body

  2. Illness

  3. Physical changes

Stress is a necessary response, to the ever changing world around us, making it essential to our survival. In a normal working system the stress response produces an adaption through a process called allostasis. It does this via mediators such as cortisol, automatic, metabolic, and immune system, which act together to keep the body at homeostasis ( in normal function). However, when our body can no longer adapt due to accumulation of stress or we experience acute trauma, the body has reached an allostatic load.  Once the body can no longer come back with ease to homeostasis or can no longer turn “on” or “off” the stress response efficiently, there can be long term corrosive consequences to the brain and body. It can change fundamental systems ( immune and endocrine) that keep our body regulated and healthy.


This can have then have a fundamental to the general wellbeing of a person, leading to chronic illnesses that affect productivity and contribute to absenteeism.

Relevance to THRE: Expectations of space

  1. Stress is something that younger generations are becoming increasingly more attune to and have started to make lifestyle changes to accommodate stress levels. This means having spaces where yoga, meditation, or other stress management activities can take place will be welcomed as part of fitting in with lifestyle.

  2. This will be especially important as the location of 70 Saint Mary Axe does not offer good running routes within the area. Even though the Thames is close, which is full of runners, it might be perceived as too far, given it is not visible or obviously accessible.

  3. Having spaces that offer restorative features will also help bring well needed calm to the workers

  4. On the physical elements side prioritising natural materials and good acoustics will be essential to not add to environmental stressors.