Wheeler and Lai Surveyors

The Hybrid Office Approach

Today marks the first day of England’s journey out of lockdown (no.3), with some outdoor sports being able to open and 2 households or 6 people being able to meet up in outside spaces. It’s a welcome fresh start to coming out of what seems like hibernation as a nation.

This leads us to consider the inside space, the inside office space that businesses are occupying. When the “stay at home” mandate is fully lifted and people are not required to work from home, and can make the move back to the office, what does the office landscape look like? There has been tremendous upheaval and change for many people, the retail sector has been most obviously hit hard, with the industrial sector having stayed strong in demand.

There has been headlines regarding closures of established banks closing branches, national business closing offices, and businesses asking their staff how they want to work, and getting a mix of answers, such as wishing to continue to work from home, wishing to return to the office, or having a mixture of the two. This leads us to think about the hybrid option, where businesses are able to offer 2 or 3 days at the office, to enable interaction and socialisation, and the flexibility to work from home.

The office isn’t “redundant”, there is still going to be a need for a business space, but it is how it is being used and how often by it’s staff that is evolving and changing. Business will need to adapt to the new emerging normal, the nation has been through a change, and business owners and leaders cannot remain static. The traditional “presenteeism” of “having bodies in the office” to make sure people appear to be working isn’t going to be sustainable. People have been resilient and adapting to working from home and going digital, this isn’t going to be easily discarded.

If you occupy office space. it might be time for a re-think how to make the space more productive for your staff, how you can create creative flexible spaces to adapt to new working habits. If you have surplus space, could you sub-let this and generate an income? If you have limited space, can you get an architect in to re-imagine the space?

If you’re not occupying space right now and are looking to rent somewhere, you need to assess your reasons for wanting a space, and what type of space do you or does your business need? Would serviced offices work well for you; which gives you flexibility and connectivity already set up? Or do you require “co working” space so that you can be immersed with other business owners and feel connected if you’re a solo operator? Or would you prefer to create the perfect space for your business by leasing an open plan office and making it your own? Whether public-facing or in a business park, location and accessibility are factors to consider.

This changing business landscape means that an open mind and adaptability is useful, and a review of your business space might be needed, to ensure your business thrives. It is going to be an interesting emergence, and Wheeler & Lai will be keeping an eye on the market, to see how business spaces are being used.

Thank you for reading this, and if you require any business space advice, contact us on 01983 210 335 or 023 9421 7335.

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