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Commercial Office Space – Post Pandemic

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

The global pandemic following Covid-19 was an unprecedented situation which nobody had foreseen. The wholesale lockdown of the country in March 2020 saw the closure of almost every office in the country.  The advice to work from home where possible forced companies into a situation that would have been unthinkable for many prior to the pandemic, with a lot of businesses not geared for such an occurrence. 

The knock-on effect of this was that businesses and staff were forced to quickly adopt new working practices, which for some was completely alien and for others was already common practice.

The notion of flexible and agile working using hot desks and remote access is certainly not a new phenomenon and for the larger corporates and creative industries was relatively commonplace.

Many smaller businesses however, and those in more traditional sectors such as manufacturing, were less used to flexible working and there was a widespread belief that staff would not be as productive at home as they were when sat behind their desk in an office – in the manager’s line of sight.

To the surprise of many however, the ability of the staff and the businesses to adopt such a wholesale change was underestimated showing that staff can be productive, if not more productive, than they are when in the office.  Despite the perceived draw of daytime television and the desire to load the dishwasher, staff have generally been a lot more productive and conscientious during this time than many bosses would have given them credit for. 

The easing of the lockdown during the last 6 months has seen business starting to return to more traditional ‘office work’ on a drip feed, with the latest figures showing that over one fifth of office workers have returned to their desks during October 2021.

The latest research from Remit Consulting shows that the national average of volume of staff returning to their desks on a daily basis has risen on a week-by-week basis with a 1.5% increase to 20.2% in the autumn of 2021 compared to the summer months.  This is now allowing senior management to make decisions over company’s space needs and requirements, as it is clear that many office departments and functions can be successfully operated remotely from home.  This in turn will lead companies to seriously consider what their longer-term plans are in the coming months and could well result in downsizing on office space, which will potentially allow for financial savings for the business.

Whilst the take up and recovery of the office market will take some time, a recent report has demonstrated that the desire for office accommodation in the month of September 2021 was the strongest for nearly 3 years.  It is therefore clear that some companies are committing to future space decisions and targeting high-quality, well-ventilated office accommodation according to the CoStar UK office market update.

We are hopeful that the world and the working environment that we all operate in is returning to a sense of normality. This is true within our regional market, with office enquiries and take up steadily increasing in line with the nationally reported figures above, as well as the increase in road traffic volumes and the stressful commute to work!

If you are looking for office space to let, or purchase, have commercial property you would like to let or sell or would like any advice about an aspect of commercial property, please contact our team on commercial@howkinsandharrison.co.uk


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