In recent years flexible workspace take-up has sky-rocketed as businesses look for more flexibility from their real estate portfolios. Then 2020 arrived and COVID-19 flipped the world on it’s head. Fast-forward to Q1 2021 businesses are still forced to work from home if they can, city office space remains empty and businesses of all sizes are still trying top analyse what their office requirements look like moving forward when we finally get through this.
Many businesses and and individuals have begun to explore flexible workspaces as an alternative to traditional long-term leases for HQ office spaces and those already working in flexible spaces are reevaluating how they can get more out of it.
WNH (Work Near Home) will become as widely understood as WFH.
Most homes are just not set up as efficient or secure working environments. 9 months from the initial lock-down there are still significant numbers of people trying to work from home in environments that are not suitable. As the dust is beginning to settle, employers are starting to see the negative effects (as we all as the positives) of WFH including security, mental health, innovation and company culture.
The ideal alternative is a strategy many businesses are trying to work out – The Hub and Spoke model. If a central HQ space is required have a smaller hub centrally in a city of choice and then allow employees access to distributed work hubs and decentralised offices that provide efficient and suitable working environments close to home. This helps avoid long commutes, public transport and higher density cities.
A return to working together?
Surely we’re all done with zoom and MS teams calls? During 2020, people across every industry have been thrust into a the social experiment of remote working. For almost a year we’ve gone without colleague social interaction, camaraderie, learning and networking. Many of us, employees and employers, took this for granted.
We foresee employers looking for that balance between safely getting employees together (when regulations allow) and working from home. Human beings are social animals, we believe most businesses will see the positives in flexible working and promote face-to-face interaction when the virus allows.
Workspace as a service.
The new priorities of flexible terms and high safety expectations cause issues for some traditional real estate models and institutional landlords. For many businesses traditional leases, CapEx and the time and effort to manage office space in house has become increasingly unattractive. Many of the larger London landlords have been looking to pivot their models to provide managed or customisable solutions and improve that landlord x tenant relationship that has never existed in traditional leased models.
Institutional landlords like LandSec (Myo), The Crown Estate (One Heddon Street) and Legal and General (Capsule) are amongst many businesses looking to bring exciting brands to market to bridge the gap between co working and the traditional leasing model. This gives occupiers the maximum control and choice when it comes to office space.
Changing design of office space.
Once all is said and done, if the way we use office space is ultimately changing, then the design of these office spaces needs to follow suit. We believe that a greater proportion of centralised city hub floor space needs to be focused on providing good quality meeting, training and collaboration areas and move away from rows of desks. The role of the office is changing. The office is moving towards being the social, cultural and collaborative hub of every business. Work that simply requires a desk, chair and screen will be done at home or near to home (WNH).
We all know that collaboration, networking and culture-building remains most effective face-to-face.