The office is dead. Long live the office.

A survey came out recently proclaiming that the days of the big offices were over, especially in bigger centres where occupational costs are high and where commuting times and costs drive up salaries.

Indeed, anyone with an interest in commercial property will be keenly aware of the pressures inexorably mounting on landlords and investors… and while retail is the sector feeling most heat, many office and industrial occupiers are also struggling to stay afloat – and that is certain to take a serious toll going forward on occupancy rates, rent reviews and defaults.

There’s no question that the world will be a very different place when we emerge from the current crisis, and that trends already making their mark in property will accelerate radically over the next few years – most notably in agile space… enabling and encouraging co-working and flexible working.

Shared workspace will radically reduce overall requirements
Co-working space for young enterprises, room to grow and flexible terms – plus a great ambience.

What might the future look like?

All this might sound like bad news for landlords… and it will be for some. The big winners will be those landlords who can ride the wave and provide what tenants need.

Of course, business space will still be needed. But in total terms we will need less of it: the pandemic will accelerate the sort of trends I’ve just described and which are already shaping the workplace in major cities.

It will also need to be in tune with what young businesses today look for in a workplace: interesting properties that have a buzz about them in attractive (and accessible) locations.

Equally, companies are looking to increase occupational densities, in order to reduce overheads and exposure in an uncertain market – and are now far more relaxed about letting staff work part of their time at home. The technology to meet virtually and collaborate remotely is has suddenly become mainstream.

There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that younger people are far more attuned to working in a less structured way – in cafes, at home, on the tube – than their older managers, preferring a very different work/life balance. They also want to work in more congenial surroundings. And they certainly don’t want to be doing long commutes which keep them away from home.

So shared workspace – enabled by technology that allows people to book desks, workspaces or meeting rooms, remotely – will radically reduce overall requirements. Critically, the sort of space businesses will be looking for will not just comprise serried ranks of desks, but contain the huddle spaces, coffee bars and break out areas where the important work is often achieved: collaboration.

This is the vision we are looking to deliver at International House: a mix of uses, the availability of co-working space for young enterprises, room to grow and flexible terms – not forgetting a great ambience to inspire collaboration!

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