Editor: The findings of Deloitte’s London Office Crane Survey, which point to a surge in office scheme starts, is both welcome and unsurprising.
In fact, for Office Space in Town and many of our peers, the signs of a widespread rebound in office demand and development were clear throughout 2021, with the latest Omicron variant little more than a short-term hurdle.
There is no question that the pandemic has greatly affected workspace demand over the last two years. However, the strong appetite for the physical office during respites from lockdown provided glimpses of what was to come.
Office Space in Town’s surveys into the impact of prolonged home working in June 2020 and June 2021 found persistent negative effects in both worker physical and mental health.
With 64% of firms not offering practical guidance on office health and safety (2020), home offices fell short of standards found in the traditional office. Consequently, the British Council for Offices found a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints.
Mental health suffered too, with 29% of respondents to our survey citing loneliness as the biggest downside to home working and 25% reporting feelings of anxiety while working from home in 2020.
This persisted into 2021, with 39% of respondents reporting inability to unplug from work as a key disadvantage of home working and 51% reporting that their mental health had been negatively affected in some way.
Further, aside from the swathes of workers who returned to the office 2021, there were indications of a more sustainable return, with our 2021 research showing double the number of people working in their normal office location as there were during the first lockdown.
Companies appeared to embrace this, with only 4% of respondents reporting that their firm had permanently given up its space.
As a leading provider of serviced workspace in London, we have seen consistent growth over the last two years – namely a 518% increase in London viewings from May 2020 to May 2021 and a 2,200% increase in closed deals in London in May 2021 from this month in 2020.
It is therefore unsurprising that Deloitte’s survey found a surge of new office starts in the five months to September 2021. Workers will never leave the office for good.
Giles Fuchs, chief executive, Office Space in Town