Last year the death of the office was predicted, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. As restrictions are easing, we’re seeing a growing demand among workers to get back to the office – for some of the time, at least.
The idea that hybrid working – a mixture of employees working in the office and at home – is the future has replaced 2020’s theory that mass homeworking would be the shape of things to come. Employers are increasingly seeing it as the best of both worlds – a recent survey of the UK’s biggest 50 employers found that 47 of them plan to adopt this model.
This new hybrid reality will inevitably have implications for office spaces themselves. So how does the office need to change in order to support this new way of working?
According to a new report by JLL, the demand for a flexible, quality space where teams can get together and collaborate easily is only going to increase post-Covid. The overall thinking seems to be that we don’t need to be in the same space all of the time – but when we do, we make it count. So quality, flexible, well-located office space is more important than ever.
A demand for flexible space
In the height of the pandemic many companies realised they could make do with less office space – some may even have sold offices and downsized. But now, to accommodate for these changed ways of working, businesses have realised that they do need somewhere people can connect, create and carry out collaborative tasks that can’t be done digitally.
Hybrid working is flexible, which means people will be in and out at different times and on different days, so the office must enable this. There are a number of ways this can be done, from reconfiguring furniture to creating dedicated collaboration hubs such as rooms which can bring together team members regardless of whether people are working from home, the office or somewhere entirely different.
Breakout spaces (such as cafes) are great for 1-2-1 meetings, independent work away from the desk or creative thinking. There has also been a move away from the idea of people having allocated fixed-desk seating, so open-plan desk spaces to allow for hot-desking will be important.
When we go into the workplace now, we go in for a reason – to meet, share ideas, collaborate, and grow. It is also where clients will come to meet you – it’s the front line of your business so should speak of professionalism.
In a survey by Knight Frank, 36% of UK businesses said they believed a better quality of space was important for this very reason, and the same went for the design and specification of offices, with 63% of UK businesses anticipating a greater focus on the latter post pandemic.
The interior of your office space also be where employees feel comfortable to work in. If staff are more productive working at home, then the office should be an extension of their home environment. You could focus on bringing home comforts such as larger workspaces, soft furnishings and relaxation areas. But don’t forget, your whole team will also want to feel like they’ve got enough privacy, even in a shared space.
One of the things we’ve really missed about the workplace is the social aspect. It’s the main negative of working at home and one of the biggest factors in people wanting to return to the office.
Social areas will play an important part in encouraging ideas and inspiration between team members. As mentioned above, breakout spaces will be essential as places to work and collaborate with teams. But it’s also necessary to have dedicated work-free zones, spaces to unwind, spaces to socialise that are not designed primarily for working.
This may be a café or food and drink area, or even a games and TV room, where people can relax and gather their thoughts. Think outside the box – how about a gym, cinema room or a bar where staff can meet after work. A relaxed setting is often the place and time when people come up with creative ideas.
Achieving flexible and quality space may mean businesses must make the move to newer and nicer offices. When upgrading your office space, location is key.
We’re seeing demand grow for high-quality city centre buildings, close to restaurants, cafes and transport links. While town and rural offices can benefit from lower costs, having an office in a central location which is accessible to clients and customers can also boost your business. It’s much easier to set up meetings in well-known areas or cities than remote venues. Easy access to cafes, bars and restaurants is important for entertaining clients and for staff to socialise.
If your employees spend most of their day hunched over screens, they’ll need constant breaks to refresh and stretch their legs. Having an office in a location where staff can easily go for a quick walk on their lunch break, with options for places for them to go in their downtime, will do wonders for productivity.
Lockdown and remote working have got people thinking about the sustainability of the office space as people start to head back.
A recent survey of 500 UK firms found that 73% are expected to downsize office space by September 2021. Businesses are hoping that smaller spaces will help them become more socially and environmentally sustainable. In fact, according to Knight Frank’s ‘Re-occupancy and Re-imagined Workplace Survey’, 53% of UK businesses interviewed said the pandemic has led them to put a greater focus on sustainability.
With hybrid working, smaller offices typically mean lower energy bills and less carbon – and working from home cuts out emissions associated with commutes and business travel too. But even in larger buildings, changes can be made to reduce impact on the environment.
2 Charlotte Place – flexible space that gives you options
2 Charlotte Place, an office building in the heart of Southampton, promotes sustainable travel and healthier living with on-site shower block & secure cycle storage. It’s also close to open green spaces and powered by 100% renewable sources.
The office space is currently undergoing a £1.2million refurbishment. Works inside the nine-storey 80,000 sq ft building will include the addition of a first-floor business lounge offering new breakout and collaborative spaces and improved facilities including secure bicycle parking, showers and lockers, electric vehicle charging points and more energy-efficient lighting.
Once refurbished, the business space will offer a range of suite sizes from 600 sq ft up to 12,000 sq ft.
It’s ideal for any businesses planning to hybrid work, return staff permanently to the office, downsizing existing premises or catering for changing business demands.
Full details about 2 Charlotte Place can be found here
For enquiries please contact our agents:
Vail Williams: Nik Cox, 07870 557410
Realest: Steven Williams, 023 8202 2170