I read with interest the news that JLL’s Future of Work Survey showed that 72% of commercial real estate decision-makers believe the office is critical to doing business. Some may find this figure surprising – I find it surprising the number was not higher.
There seems to be a misconception that flexible working must necessarily herald a mass exodus from the office. Yet, over the past year at Argyll, we’ve witnessed occupancy rates return to pre-pandemic levels and the numbers of companies taking office space has actually jumped, up by 20%.
Moreover, while the JLL survey suggests 73% plan to remove dedicated desk spaces, we are seeing private, set-desk offices more in demand than ever among our core client base of small working groups from firms within the professional services sector. Companies that value both networking and discretion are seeking the best of both worlds – high-quality office space that combines private offices with the added benefit of luxurious breakout rooms to entertain clients and colleagues.
Businesses are maintaining their budget, but investing in smaller spaces, which allows them to choose office space in a prime location and provides them with a level of comfort that matches their homeworking.
Our experience at Argyll is
that while hybrid may have become a permanent fixture in the world of work, businesses are wearying of the impermanence and lack of stability inherent in hybrid products.
JLL chief executive of work dynamics Sue Asprey Price states the office is finding ‘new purpose’ – but this is unlikely to be found in flexspaces alone. For many of London’s businesses, premium offices with a boutique, residential feel and hotel-standard services are most in demand.
Customers are demanding that workspaces are modern and equipped with the latest tech facilities, but that doesn’t mean we need to upend old ideas of the office entirely in favour of hybrid working products that are not future-proofed.
As the return to offices gains momentum, quality must be the watchword among the real estate community as we move forward. We aren’t seeing the death of the office; but rather a reincarnation.
John Drover, chief executive, Argyll