With most company leaders and professionals realising that remote working can't continue indefinitely, the notion of the hybrid office has become popular.
So what does that mean for the future of renting offices, and what are the motivations driving office selection or relocation?
This article looks at the key considerations facing company leaders in 2021 when choosing a post-pandemic workspace.
Redefining the workspace
Although some office workers remain hesitant about returning to the office, many recognise the need for a two-or-three-day work week.
What working from home has taught us is that remote working doesn't have to harm productivity.
However, it negatively impacts our ability to collaborate, which will always be a task performed better in person. Anyone who's ever participated in a Zoom brainstorming session can attest.
Therefore, the office as a concept has transformed. It's no longer a place with a means to an end but serves a compelling purpose, now operating as a socialisation, innovation and collaboration hub.
Now and in the future, people will look at what they can get out of a workspace to maximise their productivity and complete tasks they can’t do from home.
Less is more
We'll start seeing more companies moving into smaller spaces as hybrid working starts taking effect.
With top talent choosing when to be at the office, it's unlikely that employees will convene at the workplace on the same days.
Therefore, with these reduced occupancy rates, companies searching for potential space will focus less on the quantity and size and more on its quality. This means improved services, better amenities and top-shelf infrastructure.
... with these reduced occupancy rates, companies searching for potential space will focus less on the quantity and size and more on its quality.
Cost and Flexibility
Businesses who’ve fallen on hard financial times may want to lower their costs, starting with office spaces.
Fortunately, with landlords eager to fill vacant spaces, companies will find themselves in a unique position and may want to take advantage of suppressed rentals and flexible leasing.
Exploring Repurposed Office Spaces
As we earlier mentioned, offices are seen as social destinations than a physical space where we do paperwork.
There's a demand for a return to the office, but it's essential to focus on the "why"? It's not to stare at a computer screen or file paperwork, but to interact with colleagues and feel more connected to the job and organisation.
A traditional office doesn't have the facilities to match these requirements. To facilitate interaction, successful collaboration and meaningful engagement might mean moving to a flex space with breakout zones, boardrooms and other office spots that are fitting for different tasks.
There's a demand for a return to the office, but it's essential to focus on the "why?".
A Rise in Hub and Spoke
A return to the office that reflects the pre-COVID times won't happen now and is unlikely to occur in the future. Long commutes to a central headquarters comprising 300-plus employees just don't make sense in light of the changing times.
Hub-and-spoke models allow business owners to shed their excess space at their central HQ while setting up smaller satellite offices where they're needed.
Beyond the obvious financial reasons, setting up satellite offices in key locations is also motivated by the desire to recruit and retain talent who live outside CBD areas.
Demand for being in the office to socialise has increased, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to do so. Social distancing remains an everyday part of our lives because we’re still in a pandemic.
Therefore, it’s important for businesses to move to an office that prioritises wellness while meeting employee’s needs for in-person contact.
Safety measures such as the installation of plexiglass and gazetting safety office regulations are a good start, but there also needs to be sustainable changes. For example, touchless technologies are taking over the workplace for the long-term health and safety of everyone.
Social distancing remains an everyday part of our lives because we’re still in a pandemic.
Flexible Working Environment
A disconnect of motivations may exist between employees and employers to fast track a partial office return. For the employer, it may be out of concern for dropping innovation or the need to monitor people's performance.
Employees might want a different working future based on greater freedom and choice over where they work and how they work. After having a taste of remote working and the flexibilities associated with it, a return to pre-Covid days isn’t justifiable.
An obvious solution to maintaining agile working conditions while maintaining productivity and motivation levels is with flexible spaces.
Flex space helps businesses stay on top with cost-efficient offices that optimise the workplace experience. These collaborative workspaces account for a company's changing requirements as it scales up or down.
At the same time, personal needs, responsibilities and aspirations are given more airtime in these spaces. We’ve already seen so much evolution regarding employee flexibility and their work schedules and upticks in resources being provided, like webinars on upskilling, mental wellness and sometimes even childcare facilities.
Employees might want a different working future based on greater freedom and choice over where they work and how they work.
What are demands from Office Hub tenants?
As the world changes, so have the expectations of our clients.
Our 2021 stats show several interesting trends.
The flexible workplace statistics for North Sydney, for example, show a slight decrease in monthly budget per spend compared to 2020’s spend, which could be accredited to the flexibility of hybrid working and needing less space.
Interestingly, the total budget per month indicates a slight increase compared to last year, a change that could be attributed to customers spending more on quality offices.
Current workplace type figures for 2021 and 2020 exhibit that most employers work from home. Unsurprising, considering the widespread prevalence of flexible working and the implementation of regular lockdowns to this day.
Tenant wishlists of 2021 show that 24/7 access, furnished offices, close to transport and fast internet are high priorities for our clients, demands that overlap with our 2020 tenant wishlist. Other top demands include quiet space, creative workspaces, natural light and being budget-conscious.
These requirements don’t surprise us, considering the fast-changing nature of our work patterns. People need flexibility, convenience, versatility and affordability.
As for what businesses want, 2020 and 2021 trends show that people would prefer working from a professional space, showing interest in private offices and coworking setups.
As the world changes, so have the expectations of our clients.
The future of work is upon us or instead was thrust upon us by the pandemic, so to have our workplace expectations.
Current office migrations are motivated by various reasons, including size, flexible working, cost, environmental considerations and more.
With the advent of hybrid working being implemented by organisations, people are rethinking the size of their office spaces. The office's role has changed instrumentally since pre-COVID days, now being considered a meeting place and socialisation hub when Zoom calls don't meet expectations.
With people entering the workspace for specific purposes part-time, business owners are trimming back their office space but not the quality. World-class facilities, amenities have replaced extra square meterage as essential office requirements.
Centralised offices are reducing their density, thanks to the adoption of hub-and-spoke models, with companies setting up smaller satellite offices in suburban locations. This type of office relocation appeals to people wanting to reduce their commute or recruits living further away from main offices.
We discussed how flexible offices provide the ultimate agile working environment we've all grown used to in recent years. From the business owner’s perspective, it keeps people motivated, working and purpose-filled.
For the worker, this means having more autonomy over when they work. Additionally, flex space provides all the facilities we need for collaborative work and activities we struggle to perform at home.
Finally, we compared Office Hub 2021 trends to 2020 patterns, which showed several interesting insights over the future of work.