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Has office working changed… forever?

Posted by Justine Perry on 28th May 2020
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become the new norm as offices lay empty throughout the UK. 

Business owners are now starting to undertake the onerous task of planning their back to work strategies, conducting risk assessments and re-imagining how their businesses will operate in the future.

For some, they will not be returning to their office space, however for the vast majority, they are spending considerable time and effort planning a safe place for their staff.

Predicting change

Based on the conversations about office space requirements we’re having with our clients, we believe the most fundamental changes will be:-

Location

Many city-centre based businesses are busy seeking out regional satellite offices to provide a more local approach to working.

Appreciating that one of the biggest ‘working from home’ benefits is the lack of commuting both from a time and cost point of view, and with the objective of retaining talent, larger businesses are formulating different approaches based on where their staff are located.

With many steering clear of major urban centres, and in line with the housing market – there is a clear and marked upturn in requests for office space outside of major conurbations in smaller towns and cities across the country. 

If this sounds like your business, do get in touch and have a chat with one of our experts – as you need to get in quick in order to secure these fast selling office spaces.

Layout

Whilst coworking and open plan offices have been the biggest trends over the last decade, it looks like a return to private offices, and smaller, well-thought out spaces with distance between each team member, will be the future.

With social distancing measures required by law for some time to come, businesses have to resolve the layout of offices (and call centres) in order to comply and keep their staff safe.

The obvious and easy short term fix is desk sharing and desk rotas – more of a hot desk approach.  For businesses with banks of desks, they can ‘rota’ the desks by simply limiting the number of staff allowed in the office at any one time and by using every other desk (or formation of desks).

Whilst this does mean that daily cleaning regimes have to be increased to ensure hygiene standards are met, this enables a return to the office and some level of normality albeit a socially distanced one.

Another option is the introduction of protective desk screens which are clear acrylic or glass screens which used to be called ‘Sneeze Guards’. Similar to the screens you see in supermarkets these can be installed throughout an office so that each member of staff is protected as much as possible.

Flexible Contract Terms

Landlords understand that businesses seeking to relocate in the current market are going to need some level of flexibility in their contract.

As such some are offering rent free periods to entice new tenants, whilst others are offering shorter lets and flexible terms.

Negotiating a new office lease whilst trying to sustain a business and return staff to work may not be top of your priority list. The good news is that Office Brokers such as WSL offer a free service to tenants so it can be one less thing on your ‘to do’ list. 

Health & Safety

Protecting staff from a second spike in Coronavirus cases and viruses and bacteria in general is high on everyone’s agenda. This means that Facilities Managers, Operations Managers and Business Owners alike are seeking out various protective measures for their staff.

In advance of a return to work, many business owners are booking commercial deep cleaning companies whilst the office is still closed to ensure that the area is as hygienic as possible. Many are also using the opportunity to get preventative measures put in place such as Antibacterial Door Handles and Antibacterial Surface Lacquer coatings applied at the same time.

This is in addition to things like social distancing floor graphics and hand sanitiser stations.

We believe that office working will change – forever.  Whilst for all businesses with office space this is going to be a difficult transition period,  one thing is for sure – offices will still be in demand. Just differently.

 

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