Recent events have led to many questioning their property requirements for the future, both from a personal and professional prospective.
The residential property market is presently buoyant, with purchasers taking advantage of LBTT cuts and low interests rates to move out of the cities and into more rural settings. After all, why pay more to be close to the office, when you can get something larger or more cost effective within commuting distance and with that all important garden or access to outdoor space that was a saviour to many during the lock-down?
Provided that the WiFi is sufficient of course, the abundance of technology available makes working from home a viable alternative to being in the office every day.
Most office based employers are also realising that their requirements in the short and long term are going to be irrevocably changed going forward. When most client meetings are now taking place over a web-cam, is there a need to pay extra for an office with a prestigious city centre address or view and, with employees being discouraged from travelling to the office when they can work from home, is there a requirement for so many desks?
Obviously, the hope is that the current restrictions and risks will come to an end sooner rather than later and there are many that would see that as the point that we should all go back to ‘business as usual’. To take that view though is perhaps missing a trick.
Employees who have had their eyes opened to the benefits on their work/ life balance of not having to commute on a daily basis may begrudge being forced back to the office full time immediately once the risks to heath allow. There is an opportunity for employers to garner immediate staff goodwill by considering the possibility of hybrid/ full time home working for those that prefer it — while at the same time taking advantage of the reduced number of people office-working to reduce the overheads of their business by downsizing or moving to a more cost effective location.
Employers who now consider their rented offices to be too large should take the time to discuss their options with their landlords — a landlord keen not to lose a known and reliable tenant may be prepared to offer incentives to keep them in situ.
Anyone looking for new rental premises should certainly be looking to include as much flexibility as possible, whether by way of break options or rights to increase or reduce the size of the premises being let.
Those not currently prepared to commit for a significant period have the option to consider taking on serviced office and co-working spaces, an area of the market which was increasingly popular prior to the pandemic due to their flexibility and which continues to be popular due partly to the sophistication of the larger providers in complying with the Covid health and safety restrictions.
Even before the current pandemic, there was a move for most businesses away from long term lettings and towards more flexible occupancy arrangements — allowing them to re-evaluate their needs regularly and keep their overheads to a minimum. This trend is only going to be accelerated going forward.