With working from home becoming a more common occurrence, it is inevitable that the office as we know it will change. What will the office of the future look like in the UK?
There are several factors that will influence the future of the office. Firstly, the rise in technology has made working from home more feasible. With tools like Skype and Google Hangouts, it is easier than ever to stay connected with colleagues and clients. Additionally, there is no need to commute to work, which can be a huge time-saver.
The trend towards working from home is likely to continue, as more and more people become comfortable with the idea. This may lead to a decline in office space usage, as companies move away from traditional offices and towards a more flexible model. Reduced footfall in urban areas like towns and cities has seen a drop of up to 50% in rents and values of office buildings. Some businesses are moving away from an office environment entirely, with forward thinking industries such as marketing, advertising and PR deciding to relinquish their office space in favour of an exclusively remote working environment.
The office itself has changed completely, with remote workers now able to work from wherever they choose, some are even deciding to work from abroad. Travel company Florida4Less, for example, has seen a marked increase in people of working age buying one-way tickets to the USA.
We’re also already seeing an increase in co-working spaces, as people look for opportunities to work alongside like-minded professionals. For companies that no longer need the space offered by having their own office, ‘hot-desking’ has become part and parcel of their work day. Businesses are sharing office spaces with other companies or paying for spots shared property, under the ownership of companies like WeWork, often only when needed to maintain a space for people to collaborate together in person.
As you can see, the traditional office is becoming less and less relevant, and we are likely to see a shift towards even more remote working in the future as skilled professionals covet jobs where they can work from home due to benefits like lack of travel expenses, commute time and more time spent with family. This presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses in the UK. Those who can adapt quickly will be best positioned for success in the coming years.
Whilst some business are happy to make the move towards a permanent remote working environment, some businesses are having to adapt and actively encourage employees to come into the office by providing more benefits to showing up to a physical workplace. Some business are adapting their office spaces to provide their employees with needs that aren’t met at home, with in-office cinemas, cafes and even gyms being added to commercial properties to encourage use. Gym equipment retailer Factory Weights, for example, has seen a notable increase in deliveries of weights sets to commercial properties like office buildings.
All that said, there is still a place for commercial office property in the UK, but Landlords need to change tact to account for less demand and more property features to entice businesses to choose their property in particular, considering the wealth of choice and lowered rental value of office property.