Office Predictions for 2021 – The Expert’s Roundup

There is a question of whether the way companies once used office’s will ever be the same. With most of the UK working from home due to lockdown restrictions, the pandemic has most definitely altered the world of work. A debate on the ‘death of the office’ has sparked with many questions rising. How has the pandemic changed previous trends? What is in store for working lives in 2021?

From virtual office tours, to having to work from home, we are hearing it all! Our panel of experts share their predictions for offices in 2021 covering and answering all the questions you might have!

 

Our Panel of Experts:

    • Simon Rinder – Pilcher London
    • Joe Meisel – Belchak Corin & Co.
    • Oliver Shields – Workable Offices
    • Matt Clerkin – The Rig Out

 

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Simon Rinder – Pilcher London

 

Simon Rinder - Pilcher 

 

“Nobody knows what the future holds right now, however one thing we do know is that people are fed up working from their homes. Originally for the younger workforce it was a novelty, they were saving money and cutting commuting time to 30 seconds. As time has progressed this enthusiasm has worn through, with an exhaustion of repetitive Zoom calls and a tussle for quiet within the home. Not to forget that unfortunately some people have really been struggling and most miss the energy and buzz of colleagues in an office environment, its not good for anyone’s mental health or productivity for a business.

What we may see is tenants becoming more conservative with overheads, reducing the amount of space they lease per person, with a possibility that firms will set up a `flexi-working` protocol. Previously a tenant may have looked for approximately 100 sq ft per person which includes allowance for meeting rooms and separate offices. Now a company of say 100 employees may think that instead of 10,000 sq ft they may take 8–9,000 sq ft instead, with staff and teams on a rotation. This gives control back to the employees to create a better work/life balance and having a sense of ownership over your life, ultimately this will create better loyalty and uplifted output.

Having an office is a win-win for all.”

 

Joe Meisel – Belchak Corin & Co.

 

Joe Meisel - Belchak Corin & Co.

 

“From speaking to a number of tenants throughout the pandemic, many of them and their staff are desperate to get back to the office. This is generally dependent on their age and living situations. For example, those who have young children and are tasked with not only doing their own work but also trying to home-school at the same time.

In addition, the younger working generation who may have a studio apartment or a flat share are bound to working from their rooms or beds. Most businesses have these types of employees who are eager to get back to the office which is why I predict people will be going back to the office.

At the moment many offices are closed. We have found that larger companies, where there are say 100 employees plus, their offices are closed as they will have formal HR departments who will not open the office doors until the end is near as they dread to face any legal action being taken if they had not taken the necessary covid compliance regulations.

However, we have found that there are a lot of smaller offices opening, say up to 30 staff where they are a little more flexible. They tend to be working on rotation where different staff come in on different days or they keep their office open for those who struggle to work from home and they offer a certain amount of desks in their office where the staff book the desks out.

In the future, there may be increase in co-working space due to the flexibility they offer. However, firstly we have found more landlords are now happy to offer more flexible leases as short as 12 months to get their office tenanted. Also, many companies like to be in charge of their own space and do not want to be governed by the co-working providers rules. Yet, the flexibility they offer will be a massive attraction for many companies that don’t know where they will be in 6 months time.

Working from home used to be a taboo! And now many employers are realising staff can work just as well from home. We have also seen an increase in interest from offices in more residential location that are cheaper and closer to home to reduce the commute to work. We envisage that when companies do come back to their offices they will provide employees with the opportunity to work from home, whether it may be a couple days a week or full time.

Office space will continue to be crucial as we feel a large majority of companies will still need and want a base and a hub for their company. Their office space may be smaller as some of their staff may work from home but we cannot envisage a company having no office presence whatsoever. The office is where the company culture is built and we view it as an integral piece to every company.”

 

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Oliver Shields – Workable Offices

 

Oliver Shields - Workable Offices

 

“Although I do not think people will be going back to their offices like we used do, I do think people will go back. For many employees, the home office will not be the perfect long-term solution. We expect employees to return to the office on a more flexible basis meaning employees will split their working hours in the office and at home. Slowly companies have been testing the waters by allowing staff to work from home. However due to the pandemic, this has accelerated, as now companies have to fully trust their employees to work from home efficiently.

Many of our providers are still building office space. Pre pandemic, there was already an increase in demand for flexible workspaces and although the pandemic has caused disruption, we expect to see a huge shift in demand for more flexible and affordable workspace post Covid 19. In 2021, we expect to see an upsurge in coworking spaces in the near future, especially in more residential locations. As more businesses tolerate staff working away from their main office, this doesn’t mean they must work from home. Working from home has evolved to living at work. It just isn’t workable!

Local coworking hubs are perfect for businesses implementing flexible office hours as well as reducing their carbon footprint. Therefore, employees who don’t want to work at home can work locally in coworking hubs. Co-working memberships give employees the flexibility to work remotely, productively in a space and location that suits them.

The last year has forced a paradigm shift in the commercial property industry. Many companies no longer need big and expansive offices as they have become a liability. The office is becoming more of a consumer led product than ever before. In recent months we’ve noticed organizations are looking for a space that would fit only half or even a third of their team at once which could be used as needed. Flexible workspaces give businesses the flexibility to change and grow. With contracts available on a month-to-month basis, companies are not tied down to a long term contracts.

Flexible offices give companies the opportunity to expand, reduce, or even vacate their workspace – with as little as one month’s notice. They also provide hireable meeting rooms and break out space which can booked on hourly or daily basis, so companies can use different spaces within their building when they require more staff in the office. Consequently, businesses are revaluating and adapting their requirements more than ever before.

Office space will continue to be crucial for everyone, from start-ups to large corporate firms. In this day and age every business requires a space to build their culture. Flexible office space can make life better for companies and the people who work in them throughout the lifecycle of a modern company. Meaning staff work better, work happier, and work healthier every day – and we believe flexibility in where you work is the key to unlocking all of this.

I don’t necessarily think we are experiencing a completely new future, it’s just an accelerated future. We were already headed toward more distributed workforces, working in different ways and places, hub and spoke models, and more – it may of just happened sooner than we expected due to Covid 19!”

 

Matt Clerkin – The Rig Out

 

Matt Clerkin - The Rig Out

 

“I’ll be honest, I hate casting predictions at the best of times. So in this landscape, it’s particularly unsettling!

First and foremost, I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the 9-5, 5 days a week in the office. There’s now too much evidence this doesn’t work. There needed to be a catalyst for alternative methodology. Unfortunately it came in the form it did, but it has forced change.

Zoom will continue to be dominant communication method. However, I think with people embracing it as ‘the new norm’, companies & employees will start implementing behaviours to increase productivity. For example, Headspace is currently promoting the idea of a 5 minute meditation at the beginning of lengthy Zoom meetings. This may not always be feasible, but it is interesting to see how people will try and make this medium their own.

Leading on from the mental wellbeing above – I never thought I’d live to see the day where an employee could say to their boss “I’m really struggling mentally at the moment, can I take the day?” I’m by no means saying this hasn’t happened in the past, but the stigma around this appears to have significantly lessened – which, I’m sure we can all agree on, is a very good thing.

Finally, I think flexible office space will reflect flexible working. Due to continuously shifting lockdown restraints, taking 5+ year leases on large properties seems counter productive. Obviously there is no ‘one size fits all’ alternative, but I’d imagine there will be a steady increase within serviced office space. I could use this section to promote Republic. London with its 720,000 sq ft of beautifully situated office space. Boasting a whole selection of gyms, restaurants and cafes… but that would be crass now, wouldn’t it?”

 

For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.

 

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