Since the start of the pandemic and enforced national lockdown in March 2020 the office industry has faced many changes. The speed of the work from home model has picked up enormously, and since the prime minister has announced a road map which England will fully exit the Covid-19 restrictions by June many find themselves looking towards the future and asking the question ‘Do I need an office, and if so, how much will I use it and how much space do I need?’
With more staff surveys showing a desire for flexibility in the future, flexible service companies are finding they are receiving increased demand for private offices for staff to use a few times a week. One of the lasting legacies from the pandemic has been the ability for companies to work in different ways, in various locations and maintain (and sometimes improve) high levels of productivity from the workforce.
With many corporate companies looking to review their workspace estates, hybrid working seems to be gathering pace. Lloyds Banking Group is set to reduce its workspace by 20% over the next 24 months and HSBC has similar plans, both want to capitalize on the success of remote working and expect it to be a lasting change long after the pandemic has passed. BT is pressing ahead with cutting its UK offices from 300 to just 30, and Centrica which has 15,000 office-based staff have said “We won’t be back five days a week in the office and I certainly won’t. I will keep a mix of flexible working. It’s good for staff, it’s also good for customers.
Critics have raised concerns over the long term viability of Hybrid working stating it could lead to widespread failures of service businesses in city centres, including newsagents, bars and coffee shops who all rely on passing trade from office workers.
Time will tell who the winners and losers are in the post-pandemic, in this ‘new normal’ world, yet if the recent trend witnessed by serviced office provider IWG continues, it would appear hybrid working is here to stay.