4 May 2021
Business Space, Commercial, Industry News, Offices, SHW News
Office buildings must adapt to changing tenant demand in the post-Covid era or risk being left vacant, SHW agency director Holly Purvis has warned. Speaking at a webinar on the future of the office, hosted by South East London Chamber of Commerce, Holly said that the pandemic has accelerated agile and hybrid working practices and forced a rethink of how offices are used.
“Gone are the expected five days in the office. Employees will be called into offices to do work which they cannot do effectively from home – brainstorming, business development, collaborative working. This affects office layouts which need to accommodate open plan space where staff can come together.”
To attract workers back, offices need to be greener, cleaner and offer better amenities. “Now more than ever, a building needs to pass the ‘shed test’, enticing employees out from their home office in the garden shed, and will need fantastic facilities to do so,” Holly said.
As well as collaboration space, smaller meeting rooms for Zoom calls and better connectivity via optic fibre are on tenants’ wish lists. Wi-fi is replacing hard wired solutions and cloud-based and off-site archiving is reducing the need for storage.
Tenants no longer expect to do their own office fitout with landlords more open to the idea of installing kitchens, meeting rooms and furniture, a ‘CAT A+ specification’ for which tenants are willing to pay higher rents.
‘Easy in’, ‘easy out’ solutions are increasingly sought - flexible, shorter leases, often with capped service charges and pre-agreed dilapidations settlements - as is the ability to sublet and pause rents under Covid clauses.
With fewer people in the office, the number of desks can shrink as bookable desk systems are implemented. A pre-Covid review of SHW’s own offices found that average occupancy levels were roughly 50%. By bringing in hot desking and shrinking the office footprint by a similar percentage, SHW halved the total annual occupancy costs of three of its offices.
The Future of the Office webinar was jointly presented by Yildiz Betez of Thackray Williams.