Key drivers of demand for office space in the UK
Nearly half of working adults in the UK spent at least some of their time working from home between 6th and 17th October 2021. Though the Covid-19 pandemic continues to change people’s attitudes towards office space, it remains in demand. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that demand for office space had recovered after its -34% slump in Q1 of 2021. So, what exactly are businesses looking for when they begin their hunt for office space now? Let’s find out.
1. Creating a hybrid pattern that works
Home working has its merits. Between April to May 2021, people working from home said the set up enabled them to enjoy a better work-life balance. Businesses also reported that staff wellbeing was a key reason for allowing home working.
Hybrid working is a popular solution. Businesses can permit employees to share their time working both from home and in the office, or allow some employees to work from home and others to come into the office. But to offer this kind of working style, businesses need an office space that supports this new kind of set up.
2. The need for flexibility
Many businesses that are keen to reinstate some form of office working are looking for a flexible solution. In a 2020 Knight Frank report, 47% of UK businesses said they expected to need more flexible, serviced or co-working space.
Unlike traditional office leases – where you sign up for a number of years (usually five) and manage the space yourself – flexible leases are shorter term and often rolling month by month. That means you can easily change the amount of space you need depending on the needs of your team, which can act as a hedge against uncertainty. Many of the costs – like heating, cleaning, WiFi and furniture – are usually built in, meaning businesses also have more certainty over their bills.
3. Reinvigorating company culture
According to a BBC article, lots of businesses are keen to get their employees back using office space to reinstate company values and culture. After months of working remotely, many employees are no doubt feeling less connected to their colleagues. And some employees will have never met colleagues who started at the company after the onset of Covid-19.
Company culture is not something that businesses can force upon their employees – it isn’t about following certain rules. It’s something that employees themselves help to create. So, getting people in an office working together is an important way to create a supportive culture – one where people get along and help each other solve problems. And one where people spark ideas from more general office conversations. Businesses that want to ensure their company culture remains strong, or that feel it is slipping, will be driving some of the current demand for office space.
4. A place to collaborate
After employees discovered that they are still productive when working at home, a question mark has hovered over the need for office space. Yet many have found that a central hub is needed to support collaboration. In fact, 53% of businesses that responded to the 2020 Knight Frank report said they wanted offices to include more collaboration space.
While a simple desk set up works well for solitary work, collaborative work requires a more social approach. Flexible and serviced office spaces often come with meeting rooms where you can plug a laptop into a larger screen, designated sofas for more relaxed meetings, and whiteboards where people can work through their ideas together.
If independent tasks continue to be reserved for working from home days, then many businesses will be demanding office space that supports the more creative tasks.
5. The need to downsize
Cash flow has been difficult for lots of businesses in recent months. Whether tied up in supply chain issues or facing a temporary setback in demand, some businesses have found that cash is in short supply. Many are looking for ways to cut costs, and cutting back on office space that is no longer needed might be the obvious answer.
Since March 2020, a quarter (26%) of UK workers have been on furlough at some point. And following a difficult time, many businesses decided to make people redundant. In fact, between April 2020 and June 2021, 200,000 redundancies were made in the UK.
Lots of businesses need office space that better caters to their downsized needs – both in terms of space and costs.
6. Tackling remote working loneliness
The pandemic has brought people’s physical and mental wellbeing to front of mind. Not only did we all follow nation-wide rules to protect the health of ourselves, our families and others, but we also faced a unique period of social isolation. A LinkedIn poll revealed that while 43% believed that working from home improved their mental health, 40% of people found it to have a damaging effect.
Based on these findings, businesses that want to better support their employees’ emotional wellbeing will need to take a flexible approach. One that allows employees to choose the style of working that best suits them. In order to enable this freedom of choice, businesses will be looking for office space that works for their team’s preferences.
7. Promoting wellbeing
Not only are employers looking for office space to help combat loneliness among their employees, many are also keen to find space that actively targets wellbeing.
According to Knight Frank, 74% of UK businesses are placing more emphasis on wellbeing in the workplace. The solution may be anything from offering more time off, enabling greater flexibility, and having more one-on-ones to identify issues. But the office itself can also act as a wellbeing supporter. Many flexible and serviced offices come with gyms, yoga classes, wellbeing talks and healthy food and drink options, and lots of businesses will no doubt search for these features to draw people back to the office – particularly those who feel reluctant.
Keen to bring the office back to your business? We can help you find the space that meets all your needs – whether that’s greater flexibility, more wellbeing opportunities, or something more cost-effective to manage. Use our search engine to narrow down our wide range of commercial properties to find the ones that meet all your requirements, in your preferred location.