European businesses look to create new workplace strategies in response to Covid-19

Over half (51 per cent) of businesses surveyed from across Europe are looking to implement a new workplace strategy in response to Covid-19, according to the latest research from Knight Frank’s Strategic Consultancy team.

The EMEA re-occupancy research findings taken in June, which represented almost 1,000 business operations across 34 countries in Europe, has highlighted the changing approaches to the future of the workplace.

Almost a third of businesses (29 per cent) are considering how their workforce could work closer to home, with under half (40 per cent) having determined that they will require less office space in the future. Only 11 per cent of respondents identified that they would require more space to accommodate social distancing, and only 8 per cent are considering relocating to cheaper sub-markets for space.
Whilst Covid-19 is believed to have had a significant economic impact on 59 per cent of businesses in the short term, in the medium term 63 per cent of respondents determined that it would have a marginal to no impact, showing signs of an expected V-shape recovery.
Neil McLocklin, Head of Strategic Consultancy at Knight Frank, says: “As Europe begins to emerge from lockdown, it is evident that businesses are focused on implementing new workplace strategies as they learn from their experience of extended working from home. Whilst social distancing measures remain in place this is a period of experimentation, which will help to inform the workplace of the future. As we continue to work closely with our clients to address this important topic we have seen that whilst the overall demand for space is anticipated to reduce, there is an expectation that the workplace requirement will be for better, higher quality and less dense accommodation, alongside a consideration of how people could work better closer to home.”
Mass working from home has had widespread impacts on the workplace of the future with 38 per cent of businesses surveyed interested in an increased amount of collaborative space, and almost half (46 per cent) indicating that offices will be less densely occupied.
Furthermore, a third of respondents (33 per cent) believe that the demand for addressing the design and specification of offices is expected to grow, in light of changing office sentiment and uses.
McLocklin says: “The workplace needs to respond to the changing future of work by providing a higher level of experience for employees. Collaborative environments will need to be blended with an increased use of technology to enable seamless working in the future. In fact, of those surveyed 54 per cent expected to accommodate less international travel. With the use of virtual tools for interaction becoming more prevalent this is now a viable option. The dynamics underpinning the workplace are changing, which is why businesses are, and should be, addressing their workplace strategies now across their entire organisations. Change will need to be more sustainable and efficient, whilst ensuring the experience and wellbeing of staff is kept at the forefront.”