Editor: Reports that workers have returned in their thousands to offices following the summer should come as an incredibly welcome sign for City landlords after many months of reduced occupancy and uncertainty. In fact, some members of the London Property Alliance are now reporting occupancy rates of 40% to 60%.
However, landlords and office operators cannot afford to be complacent. Today’s post-pandemic tenants rightly expect office space that delivers an experience better than their homes and better than their pre-Covid offices. Key to that must be the quality, cleanliness and safety of that workspace, which has become even more critical following the pandemic.
Indeed, research completed by our client, Office Space in Town, in its Home Commute Survey 2021, found that 84% of workers wanted to return to the office in some capacity once vaccinated, but also identified a ‘wishlist’ of precautions they wanted within their workspace.
Simple measures such as hand sanitiser provided at desks were the most popular interventions, but operators should also take note of the additional measures cited by workers, such as allowing flexible start and finish times, sneeze screens and temperature checks on arrival.
Central to post-Covid safety precautions must also be a closer inspection of day-to-day office cleaning – something that can no longer be regarded as an afterthought. Sanitising fogging, office and carpet deep cleaning and proper waste management are some of the key measures that will help keep employees safe and make them feel more confident in returning.
While the September rush is incredibly welcome news for the office sector, operators and landlords would be wise to view the return with a note of caution. It is no longer simply a case of ‘build it and they will come’.
The quality and cleanliness of office space will now determine not only whether workers will return, but whether they will stay.
James Carver, managing director, Office Space Cleaning Facilities Management