Clerkenwell Open

Q&A with Sarah Audsley, Associate Partner & Head of Workplace Strategy at Knight Frank

Clerkenwell Open offers an incredible panel of experts from the Architect and Design Industry who have been supporting and advising throughout the development of the free showroom trail event, taking place on 9th & 10th September 2021. We are publishing a series of Q&A’s with our experts, giving you an insight into their career sectors, thoughts on the future of contract and interior design and why events like Clerkenwell Open are so important for our industry.

[Register for a Free Clerkenwell Open Ticket Here]

We had the chance to speak with Associate Partner & Head of Workplace Strategy at Knight Frank, Sarah Audsley, ahead of Clerkenwell Open. Read on to find out about the future of the workplace and the importance of listening and understanding in order to develop effective solutions for our ever-changing world.

Please could you introduce yourself?

I’m Sarah Audsley, Associate Partner and Head of Workplace at Knight Frank. My career in Workplace started around 20 years ago as a space planner, followed by a stint in facilities, then working client side before landing in consultancy about 10 years ago. During this time, I have gained an in-depth knowledge of various, very different organisations, which has been great fun. Joining Knight Frank has enabled me to work more globally, which I have really enjoyed, especially having joined after spending two years living in Bangkok.

Could you tell us about your area of expertise? Are you working on any current projects?

At Knight Frank we work to align Business Strategy with Workplace Strategy, using the portfolio as an enabler of transformation. We recently worked with an organisation that needed to reduce costs whilst also providing a better workplace experience. We engaged across 13 global locations to understand and profile the roles, activities and people at each office. We developed a hybrid workplace strategy that could be applied globally and linked to portfolio decisions, whilst also being flexible to local culture where needed.  This project like most, was about listening and understanding. I believe that each organisation is a society and if you can understand what makes it tick, you are better placed to provide the right places and spaces to elevate its performance and the experience of its people. 

What does the future look like in your area of expertise?

Workplace strategy is about devising the best environments for people to thrive, something which the past 18 months has challenged. The second edition of our (Y)OUR SPACE report, which draws on responses from almost 400 international businesses, found that 46% are looking to improve the amenities available to employees within the workplace, whilst 90% reported that real estate is a strategic device for their business.

We cannot underestimate the importance of face to face connections; however the future will also be about enabling people to undertake their roles in more dynamic and effective ways. Workplace strategy will continue to be a discipline that focuses on listening, analysing and developing bespoke solutions that facilitate an ever-evolving working world.

What does the future of the contract and interior design sector look like?

I expect contract furniture will continue to develop settings for people to come together. Open and enclosed spaces with integrated technology that provide ‘in the room’ experiences for all participants. With sustainability targets coming in and the IPCC report on climate change issued, how these products are made, the materials used, integrating nature, good lighting and ventilation will all become far more important, as they should.

The same applies for interior design I expect, but typically companies would have previously been dealing with the end user to design and fit out a space. With the rise of co-working and managed serviced offices, as well as landlords looking to create the best experience and meet sustainability targets in order to secure the highest rents however, there could be an interesting shift as to who the customer is for interior designers. 

What is the importance of events like Clerkenwell Open to the contract and interior sectors?

I think the ability to showcase new products and new thinking, not just within the sector but also to end users. 

What are you most looking forward to at Clerkenwell Open?

Well I’m hoping that somewhere will be serving up a good cocktail, but mostly I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, making new connections and being part of a sector that is focused on making life better for people who work in offices.

For the latest news and updates from Clerkenwell Open, find us on LinkedIn & Instagram.