COVID-19 has forced businesses to revaluate how they use serviced office space. With the majority moving to large scale home working, it begs the question what will the ‘new-normal’ look like in terms of office space for small businesses? In this article we look at some of the trends during the transition to home working and give some insight into what the future holds for office space in a post-pandemic UK.
As we emerge from COVID-19 induced lockdown people are eager to get back to some semblance of normality. Whilst working from home served it’s purpose at a time it was very much needed, it has become clear that home working fatigue has set in and staff long for the social interaction the office environment provides. Whilst it’s certain that the return to the office will look different to pre COVID times it’s unlikely the demand for furnished office space will disappear.
Transitioning to working from home
Commuting to the office five days a week may seem like a distant memory now and whilst a large scale return to city centre serviced office space seems unlikely in the short term, it is expected we’ll see a phased return to UK Office Space in mid 2021.
Spontaneous breakout room collaboration has been replaced with more formal morning catch ups over video conferencing software and, whilst technology has been useful in facilitating home working, it’s no substitute for the face to face contact experienced in office buildings in the long term. The days of staff seated in rows of desks beside their team members where they could easily communicate with an informal chat over a coffee or a more formal face to face meeting in a meeting room look set to return in some capacity.
A recent survey of 145,000 workers worldwide by Leesman found that 28% of people who work from home were unable to collaborate on creative work. A collaborative workspace allows for the creative thinking that is so essential for businesses. Another study highlighted that only 25% of the UK’s workforce could work remotely for more than 2 days a week without it negatively affecting their productivity.
Not only does working in furnished office space encourage collaboration, it accelerates staff development. New starters that are physically surrounded by their more experienced peers are able to learn by osmosis, listening to office conversations and telephone calls as well as developing their professional networks which are essential for staff development and on the job training – something that has undoubtedly suffered as a result of the prolonged period of home working.
Albany House Serviced Offices in Wokingham boast recently refurbished office space for small businesses in Wokingham Town Centre with individual offices for up to 12 people. Breakout space for those informal conversations and meeting room / collaboration space is also available for up to 10 people.
Where possible, businesses undertook the transition from serviced office working to homeworking fairly seamlessly. This was almost solely down to the technology that businesses have at their disposal. The use of video conferencingequipment and screen sharing software such as Zoom and MS Teams meant that staff can continue to operate effectively when not co-located. It’s unlikely home working would have gone so smoothly in the absence of these software platforms. Businesses have come to rely on these software platforms and it’s likely that they’ll form an integral part of traditionally office based businesses going forward.
Whilst the ability to mobilise a home office workforce has saved some businesses in 2020/21, a lot of businesses feel the move has been forced upon them, and given the choice it’s unlikely 100% home working would be the preference. There are already signs that the corporate narrative on home working is set to shift as former home working champions Google recently announced they don’t expect staff to be working remotely after September 2021. Companies recognise that home working creates enormous challenges in terms of training, mentoring and culture (not to mention mental well being and our need for being sociable).
Working from home will be a bigger part of our lives going forward, but perhaps not to the extent many have predicted. In the remainder of this article we look at how business are likely to operate in a post COVID-19 world and what they’ll prioritise when looking for serviced office spaces.
The Hybrid Workforce
Whilst some businesses will either return to the office on a permanent basis others are likely to allow some form of hybrid solution of office working and home working for their employees. BP have recently announced that staff will return to office working for a minimum of 60% of the working week whilst Google have announced that they most expect staff to be back in the office by September 2021.
Going forward serviced office space in City Centres will take on a new role. Serviced offices will cease being merely a place where employees report every day they will become corporate centres specifically meant to spur innovation and connection. Managing Director of Albany House Serviced Offices in Wokingham highlights that “the future of office space will be designed to support collaboration and accelerate creativity and team spirit.”
That being said, the office will likely be just one destination among many where UK employees will work. According to predictions from the global real estate firms, tomorrow’s offices “will no longer be a single location, but an ecosystem – to support flexibility, functionality, and employee well-being.” Some estimate that 50% of the workforce will soon embrace a workplace ecosystem comprised of offices, houses, and third places such as cafes and libraries.
Starbucks, for example, plans to practice “hoteling,” with employees reserving office space only when they need to collaborate with others. Interest in such “agile workspace” strategies has reportedly grown 500% since the pandemic began. Over the next year, while its employees continue to work remotely, the coffee giant plans to redesign its headquarters: It will eliminate most private desks, renovating the extra space to foster cooperation and make it feel more like—a coffee shop.
By 2022, the strategies behind corporate site selection will probably look different, too. Until recently, many leaders embraced what CBRE Labour Analytics calls “fewer and bigger,” as in, a limited collection of large offices. Following the pandemic, some have begun to question this approach, since geographic diversity can help “reduce the risk of disruption to business operations” when crises occur. Instead, many leaders are now prioritizing decentralization.
One popular idea is the “hub-and-spoke” model, which involves a hub office in an urban area accompanied by “spokes” throughout the suburbs. This approach could give the hybrid workforce the flexibility it demands.
With individual office spaces ranging from 2-12 people, Albany House Serviced Offices in Wokingham Town Centre is an excellent location for businesses to base themselves.
In the wake of the coronavirus, neither our personal lives nor our work lives will ever be the same. Management must not only rethink their office requirements for this new reality. They also need to consider a host of related issues, including the security, commute, and supply chain implications of a reconfigured workplace. Forward-thinking leaders, therefore, are already looking past the offices of today and starting to think about how these new perspectives and trends will transform the offices of 2022.
High Quality Office Space
Probably the most important factor when choosing a Town centre office in Wokingham is the quality of the furnished office space itself. A centrally located recently refurbished office space in a pleasant environment is vital for businesses when considering options. Albany House Serviced Offices in Wokingham Town Centre are the most centrally located in the town with quick access to Wokingham train station on foot there aren’t many better locations to base your office.
The Serviced Office in Wokingham has been fully renovated within to provide businesses with all the essential services they require such as a high speed fibre internet connection, desk phones, desks, chairs, pedestals and filing cabinets. The building has recently been fitted with new shower facilities for those who choose to cycle or jog into the office as well as refurbished bathrooms and a breakout area for those who want to get away from their desk.
Albany House Serviced Offices in Wokingham boast recently refurbished office space for small businesses in Wokingham Town Centre with individual offices for up to 12 people and a dedicated, reliable high speed fibre internet connection.
More Meeting Rooms / Collaboration Spaces
Another trend of the return to city centre office space is the shift in how we use office space. Pre-pandemic, 83% of office space was allocated to individual work and 17% was dedicated to collaborative work. However, collaborative spaces were 25% more utilized than those for individual work. Only 28% of space dedicated to individual work was utilized pre-pandemic, while 35% of space dedicated to collaborative work was used pre-pandemic.
Space allocation was designed for 9-5 employees who had no option to work elsewhere. The ideal situation going forward is to create a system where individual workspace can be variable. Offices will likely double down on optimized-yet-safe reallocation of desk space in order to assign the remaining real estate to space types that might be more useful—or better, especially attractive for employees returning to the office.
There are signs that companies are already considering alternative strategies, such as hot desks. Some business are expecting more hot desking and shared arrangements, with 10% to 15% of desks expected to head in this direction.
In general companies are taking their time to reassess their overall strategies. WFH strategies are still shaking out and it is looking likely that while many companies will scale back on some space it will not be as much as had been feared earlier. Also, companies are still signing long-term leases, which is also having an impact on planning.
Albany House Serviced Offices in Wokingham boast recently refurbished office space for small businesses in Wokingham Town Centre with individual offices for up to 12 people. Breakout space for those informal spontaneous conversations and meeting room / collaboration space is also available for up to 10 people.
With hybrid working comes the need to continue to use video conferencing software as staff continue to work from home in some capacity. A stable high speed internet connection capable of supporting the increased load multiple video calls put on the network is therefore essential. Albany House has recently installed a dedicated high speed fibre connection to the premises meaning that businesses in the building are guaranteed high download and upload speeds.
Good facilities are vital to staff wellbeing and productivity. Given that more people are jogging/cycling into the office these days shower facilities are essential as well as good breakout facilities to allow staff to have informal conversations over a coffee or lunch. Not only this but informal spaces in office buildings away from the desk are something employees place more value on.
Albany House Serviced Offices in Wokingham has recently been fitted with new shower facilities for those who choose to cycle or jog into the office as well as refurbished bathrooms and a breakout area for those who want to get away from their desk for a coffee or casual chat.
Increased use of Virtual Office Services
One thing that is clear is that as businesses transition back to something that looks more like business as usual there will be an increase in their use of more Virtual Office Services such as Mailing Address Services, Telephone Answering Services and Collaborative Space and/or Meeting Room Hire. Virtual office services allow for increased productivity, reduction in costs and greater flexibility. For more information on what virtual office services we provide, fill out the contact form below or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. This is something that Albany House has years of experience in and offer competitive prices for. Contact us for more information.
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