I was at the doctors today. In a kind attempt to divert my attention from a delicate procedure towards the middle part of my body (if you know what I mean…) my doctor asked what I do for a living.
The doctor was wondering how this middle aged man, dressed in jeans and a T shirt, could afford his fees! Dr Cohen (not his real name for confidentiality) seemed concerned when I advised him that I help companies acquire office space in the West End and throughout Central London. “Oh that’s interesting”, he stuttered, now concerned his fees would never be paid. “I don’t suppose there’s a lot of demand for offices right now”.
I get a lot of this type of negative sentiment from people I meet. Beneath their engaging smiles, I sense they are thinking that in today’s climate, my chosen profession must be about as useful as a pork sausage at a bar-mitzvah!
But that’s not entirely true. In the shadow of the pandemic, businesses, large and small, have been reconsidering the purpose of offices. Existential thoughts about office usage fall into three broad categories:
- Ditching the office entirely to work from home
- Expanding their space so they can socially distance
- Using an office perhaps 3 days a week – hybrid working.
In the shadow of the pandemic, businesses, large and small, have been reconsidering the purpose of offices.
Well-located quality offices trump secondary bog-standard space every time
Just like the disease itself, I think the social and economic ramifications of Covid will ebb and flow before we reach a new longer term balance. There was always going to be a 5 year period of change before a new way of working in offices settles down.
However, what I do know is the flight for quality office space is continuing. If you want your team to return to the office from the 4 corners of the UK, your space needs to be inspiring. Office premises (unlike shops and restaurants) are now luxuries for many occupiers. Whilst a coffee shop simply cannot operate without their premises, office tenants now patently can!
The flight for quality office space is continuing. If you want your team to return to the office from the 4 corners of the UK, your space needs to be inspiring.
This shift means we are going to see lots high specification office space adapted to provide all the toys. Think air conditioning, exposed surfaces, high ceilings, great natural light, outside spaces etc. If they are well located these offices will be in high demand. In contrast, secondary quality space has largely lost its “raison d’etre”. Certainly where it is poorly located, lower quality office space should perhaps be converted into something else!