The office market remains uncertain and deals are too few for people like me to usefully bang on about London office rents. Suffice to say you would be well advised to ask us to find you an amazing office on great terms if that floats your boat.
In this blog post, however, I wanted to talk more about returning to the office.
I was looking at the government’s roadmap. Not glaringly obvious, but I guess 21st June is the point when Londoners may be asked by employers to return to Central London.
Mixed messages from employers about returning to the office
Employers are giving mixed messages about returning to the office. The boss of Goldman Sachs was reported as saying working from home is a short term aberration. He thinks a company that is collaborative, innovative and fosters apprenticeship, needs employees to get on their bike/tube/bus – and get into work! Other influential corporates – e.g Facebook and Twitter – have told employees they can work at home forever if they want!
I have spoken to office workers in great government departments and large local authorities. Amazingly many have no clue when they will be asked to return to the office
And what about the public sector? I have spoken to office workers in great government departments and large local authorities. Amazingly many have no clue when they will be asked to return to the office.
One of our clients wanted to renew their lease on their West End office. We had the weirdest negotiation with a huge office landlord (huge as in property under management, not personal girth). They wanted our clients to sign a new lease at a higher rent when their office could not even be used due to lockdown! Ironically the landlord had no plans to reoccupy their own office. And yet, as far as I could tell, had (very wisely) not visited Central London in a year.
Do employees want to continue working from home?
And what about office workers – what do they want? There have been surveys where they have indicated they (1) want to physically return to the office (2) want to collaborate and socialise with colleagues, (3) want to meet face to face with clients, (4) never want to see their immediate family again.
But London is a beautiful city and when Spring turns to Summer I wonder if they would prefer to either (1) Get on the tube, or (2) fix anti- glare to their computer screen and work in the garden / park until the Autumn.
Not every business or employee is the same
Many businesses can work perfectly well remotely. On the other hand, plenty can only flourish in the longer term when teams can physically work together.
In fairness, I don’t think we can think of businesses or their office workers as homogeneous. Many businesses can work perfectly well remotely. On the other hand, plenty can only flourish in the longer term when teams can physically work together. By the same token, middle-aged managers with plenty of inside and outside space may genuinely like working at home, whilst younger colleagues need to learn and want to socialise in a company environment. Personally, I also think managers need to pop into the office to manage, teach and mentor their team.
3 predictions that will impact London office rent
I don’t really want to talk too much about rent right now. We still don’t know what will happen to longer term demand for London office space.
I have been writing about office rent every quarter for years, but as mentioned above, I don’t really want to talk too much about rent right now. We still don’t know what will happen to longer term demand for London office space. I do however have 3 predictions that will certainly have an impact on rent down the line:
- Offices will be De-Dolly Partoned! “Working 9 to 5” (at least away from home) will become something of the past for millions of workers as hybrid working becomes the norm.
- Uninspiring “bog standard” offices will be available to rent on great commercial terms. They will also become more obsolete as people wonder what their point is.
- Demand for well-located, inspiring workspace with volume and light will intensify.
I’ll be back in 3 months’ time with (hopefully) a more concrete prognosis about the state of the London Office Market.