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The Impact of COVID-19 on Offices

30th June 2021

No industry sector has been untouched by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The last year or so has seen each market face untold pressures, as restrictions disrupted normal business operations, and public demand and footfall reduced. But it’s not just bricks and mortar stores that felt the squeeze and had to subsequently adapt to survive during, in between and after the national lockdowns. 

Offices were also the subject of many government imposed Covid-19 restrictions. Unfortunately, despite easing lockdown rules, we are by no means out of the woods yet. More recently, daily cases have experienced fresh spikes due to the emergence of new variants, and further easing of restrictions has been postponed, but what does this mean for your office building?

As a leading provider of commercial valuations and residential valuations, our commercial estate agency has been at the forefront of the industry, continually providing services and support to all who need them. 

Here we take a closer look at the impact Covid-19 has had on offices and what the future may hold as we move out of lockdown and into a very different way of living and working…

How the pandemic changed the traditional way of working

Work from home (WFH) has been at the centre of many lockdown restrictions since the pandemic began. Months may have passed yet remote workforces still remain a vital part of many companies as the Prime Minister continues to recommend that both employed and self-employed professionals work from home if they can.

According to a recent survey conducted by real estate service Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), 71% of office workers worked from home during the pandemic. These days, many office workers now see remote working as the norm, which is a major change in the way that companies traditionally operate in the UK and the rest of the world.

WFH – could it be the death of the workplace?

With a huge amount of office workers now classed as remote workers, the landscape of many industry sectors has no doubt altered due to the pandemic. But is work from home here to stay and could this be the end of the office as we know it?

As the survey from JLL and insights from our own commercial estate agency found, not everyone is happy with remote working. The vast majority of workers (58% of all office workers and 65% of young professionals aged 35 or under) missed the office atmosphere as well as the human interaction and social opportunities that were apart of the package. 

Productivity rates also tend to be slower at home, with the majority of those surveyed saying they felt more productive in the office.

Despite the initial teething problems that went hand-in-hand with facilitating and supporting remote workers, many companies are considering a permanent move to a full or partial work from home policy. Technology giants Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, Square and Coinbase represent just a handful of organisations who are now remote-first.

What does this mean for office buildings?

From a business point of view, a remote-first policy makes perfect sense. It gives companies of all shapes and sizes the chance to reduce their office space and save money, which is of course a very attractive prospect, especially during these troubled times. But, as our commercial estate agency is often asked, where does this leave the many office buildings based around Staffordshire, Cheshire, Shropshire and the rest of the country?

As specialists in commercial valuations and residential valuations, our prediction is that the use and design of office buildings will change with the times, just as many offices have had to do to accommodate returning workers and conform to social distancing rules.

They’ll be no densification of workers, instead office buildings will become spacious hubs. Despite many companies’ shifts to remote-first policies, office spaces won’t become completely redundant. Catering to the social needs of the workers within their organisations won’t be overlooked by business leaders, and with this our commercial estate agency expects that traditional office layouts will evolve into communal spaces for workforce get-togethers and networking.

Businesses must strike the right balance post-lockdown

The business world is no doubt changing. In fact, it may even never be the same again. The new purpose our commercial valuations and residential valuations experts predict will mean offices must become versatile spaces that balance remote working whilst fulfilling other demands from employees, clients and shareholders. 

Going forward, there will be an increased need for greater flexibility. Practices like hot-desking will however give employers and tenants or owners of office buildings big and small the opportunity to pass on operational costs.

Are you the owner of an office building? 

Whether you’re unsure about the future or would like to explore your options, our commercial estate agency can assist. 

As experts in commercial valuations and residential valuations, we regularly act on the behalf of landlords, investors, sellers and buyers to ensure property sales and purchases can be made with confidence and clarity, even during this period of uncertainty. 

Please contact our commercial estate agency today for further advice and support.