15 April 2020

While the country remains in lockdown and the majority of office workers are managing their work from home, many companies are limited in their productivity and the amount of output that they can achieve. A lot of us are facing blanks in the working day due to supply chains not being fully operational and the threat of Covid 19 placing certain products and services out of demand. The positive take is that this leaves us with space to plan ahead. We have the opportunity to consider the areas of our businesses that sometimes get overlooked or nudged down the list, while we get on with the demands of day to day work. In fact, it۪s a good time to focus on internal concerns marketing strategies, website content, branding, office design and furnishings. It۪s also a great time to plan what space you need and how best to use it. Changes to the way we work The effect of the lockdown is likely to stay with us for a long time. Not only does it pose the threat of long-term financial pressures and extended disruption to national and international travel, it is also likely to impact on the way we work, and where we choose to work, going forward. In an online article, published at the end of March, the UK chief investment officer for private banking house, Coutts, noted that, despite the resilience of the office market and the global flows of investment into the UK, this prolonged period of working from home could change the outlook of the sector and convince us that office-based desks aren۪t as important as we thought. Many companies may look for smaller, more flexible office space that would enable workers to engage in a more agile style of working where no individual takes ownership of any given space or desk. This would enable employees to move fluidly within the environment, using the office to touch base and work from occasionally, rather than as a daily nine to five event. Planning ahead An enforced slowing down of activity leaves us with the option to start considering our spaces and what we need now. If a rent review or lease renewal is imminent then this is indeed an opportune time to consider changing demands. Your projected space requirements may need to be reconsidered after lockdown has been lifted. For instance, if working from home is proving to be successful for the majority, the chances are that a high number of staff will want to continue to do this for at least some part of the week. They۪ll be keen to reap the benefits, such as more family time and a better work life balance, that this style of working allows. You۪re likely to already have a fair idea of how this is playing out; how well this way of working has been received among members of staff and what their levels of productivity are like as a result. Taking into account, your staff weren۪t prepared for this and that there may currently be young children at home with them too, if the workload is being adequately managed, it can only prove to be even more fruitful once restrictions are lifted and children are back in school. Workplace audits Any audits carried out before March will definitely need reviewing as working practices will have to be re-evaluated, post lockdown. Take stock now, before you engage with the experts, and prepare staff questionnaires and hold virtual meetings in order to fully consult the team. It may be that you need far less space than you think you do going forward and you can operate more efficiently, cutting down on the costs that go hand in hand with bigger properties, including rental expenditure. For further help on how best to review and consider your commercial space requirements, give us a call or drop us a line.

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