New survey looks at the future of office space, post-pandemic

Since 4 July, lots of UK businesses, industries and establishments returned to work with social distancing measures in place. However, for many, the post Covid-19 workplace looks very different. Adapting and being flexible to the new demands of work life is a key part in moving forward, but how are businesses planning on implementing this?

Flexioffices has conducted some research to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on businesses and how they are reprioritising business and employee needs. 

According to the research, some 74 per cent of businesses have been significantly impacted as a result of Covid-19, and two out of three employers say that maintaining employee morale during the pandemic has been a challenge.

The most significant change that businesses face is their office space. Given the overheads in property letting and the proven capabilities of employees working from home, it isn’t a surprise that many businesses are looking at reducing their space and rent. When thinking about their future office space, 21 per cent of respondents say the size of their office space will be the most important consideration, 19 per cent say price and 19 per cent say location.

Some 36 per cent of businesses in London are looking to move away from their current city, 56 per cent are encouraging more flexible working hours, and 39 per cent of those who are looking to move want more flexible contracts.

A total of 24 per cent of those in ‘people’ roles say that the one thing they want to change is access to more breakout spaces and communal areas. However, 23 per cent of managing directors and senior decision-makers say price and size of office space are the most important factors when making a decision about a future office space.

On the return to work, many businesses will need to implement changes and processes in order to facilitate a safe working environment and protect their staff. However, that might not be so straightforward. Across the board, businesses are most concerned with implementing social distancing measures in the office (21 per cent), implementing new technology (15 per cent), and needing increased flexibility in their premise’s contracts (16 per cent).

Some 57 per cent of businesses will be looking to downsize and more specifically 44 per cent will be looking to downsize and encourage their people to work remotely. It seems the face of the UK workplace is changing like never before.

Forty four per cent of people who currently own their office space are looking to rent next time, while 42 per cent of businesses in London are now moving or considering moving as a direct result of Covid-19. H,owever 53 per cent of those located in the rest of the UK are less inclined to move. For those considering moving, 58 per cent will be downsizing. Of those planning to move/considering it, 55 per cent will be looking to make a decision in the next three to six months.

Michael Dubicki, Director of Business Development at Flexioffices, says: “Covid-19 has had a profound effect on businesses.

"Ultimately, it has asked deeper questions of the office. What does the office actually do? Why do we have them? Do we need them? The pandemic has asked businesses to re-look at office space and include the perspective of how it affects people – their productivity, their wellbeing, how they interact together and engage in positive experiences.

"Because of this, Flexioffices decided to conduct a survey of UK businesses to find out more about changing attitudes to the workplace and what it is likely to look like after Covid-19.

"Alongside the expected focus around price and location, the primary drivers affecting the thought process around office space are now heavily weighted towards a much greater focus on future flexibility of contracts, wellbeing of people and the quality/cleanliness of the environment, coupled with an overwhelming desire to reduce the overall size of space being occupied.”