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11 June 2021 | by Richard Merrick
The figures from MRI Software and CoreNet Global appeared in Facilities Management Journal last month and revealed that 69% of landlords don’t expect Covid to have a lasting impact on space requirements – although 71% of occupiers expect it will, once they return to the office.
With a reduction in space such a hot topic, here are 3 Rs to consider, before determining what comes next for your office:
The first R is that reduction might not be possible. Wanting to reduce space and being able to are two different things. For cash strapped businesses – particularly if the pandemic has taken its toll – this might seem the perfect solution, but it will rely on the timing of lease breaks, the openness of landlord relationships, clauses pertaining to subletting and even market availability of alternative spaces. Do not dedicate your focus to this until you know your position and have considered all the options.
Consequently, instead of reducing space, reimaging might be better. On the face of it, it may seem your office is now too big for a hybrid workforce, but these new behaviours actually require something different of your workplace. Now more than ever, it has to become a place that supports community and collaboration, administers a brand-shot and offers a compelling employee experience. As we return to some sense of normality, we will all want more interaction and engagement with colleagues, to escape the confines of home and to enjoy more variety. Your workplace must acknowledge this and respond. Perhaps that seemingly ‘unnecessary’ space could become home to a high-tech collaboration hub for meetings and skills development – or a place where the focus is on creating a sense of brand community and belonging. Looking ahead, occupiers must be FutureFlexible – which means having the right tools, culture and organisational dexterity to flex as needs and behaviours change. The workplace is integral to this picture.
Finally, in order to know what’s right for your business – press surveys, predictions and speculation aside – you need to remove the guess work. Establish what your individual business needs to thrive in the post pandemic world. Is it realistic that your whole team will work remotely – or do some department need to be office-based? What does your ideal hybrid working model look like? What will the movements of your people be and what tools will they require? And how will your workplace respond?
These questions can seem overwhelming for an occupier, particularly after such a challenging 18 months, and it’s why workplace consultancy is so very valuable right now. Workplace consultancy uses extensive data gathering techniques and workplace psychology to evaluate organisations’ people and space challenges, identify true needs and provide a blueprint of requirements. Together, these insights can shape real estate decision making and effective office interior design. Quite simply, it can make the path ahead much clearer.
The office’s rebirth
As several large global businesses announced they were closing offices and that homeworking would become their permanent ‘new normal’ – the mainstream media said Covid had killed the office. But away from the headlines, the office is alive and well. In fact it’s going through a rebirth.
It’s being reimagined to become a destination office – a highly desirable space that supports employee wellbeing, collaboration and productivity while also reflecting new hybrid working styles. It’s a subject we’ve covered extensively in our new whitepaper ‘The Phoenix Effect’. In it, we examine the legacy of Covid, how occupiers are already responding and what this demands of the physical workplace itself. It’s full of useful tips and guidance and you can read it here.
Before deciding that reducing space is the answer – ask yourself what reimagining could deliver. If you take the time to analyse your true rather than perceived needs, you could make your workplace a brighter, bolder, and more effective version of its former self.
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