Corporates are facing significant challenges in managing office footprint in the wake of Covid-19, with new safety measures, worker preferences and an uncertain financial future each creating complicated pressures.
Flexible workspace offers a clear solution. The attractiveness of flexible space has been growing for some time, but Covid-19 has amplified this and, coupled with a growing avoidance of long, rigid leases, has accelerated the shift towards regional workspace.
The way large corporates must adapt is increasingly incompatible with the infrastructure of traditional, city-centre HQs. Traditional offices are densely packed, use cramped, shared lifts and lack the ease of quick space expansion or contraction. As a result, these offices are not well-suited to the new post-pandemic health and safety regulations, or remote workers’ new preference for life without long commutes.
Indicative of this trend are the recent actions of large banks such as Metro Bank, Virgin Money and Lloyds Banking Group, which have de-emphasised HQs in favour of satellite branches. Networks of regional flexible office space can achieve the same outcome.
In the immediate term, as corporates look for safe workspace, decentralised flexible space offers support. Flexible space outside London and major cities facilitates social distancing and helps workers avoid public transport, while also allowing for greater agility in managing overheads for corporates facing uncertain futures. This is achieved by providing clients with space that can be flexed up or down to control costs and manage changing working patterns or requirements.
Looking long term, the shift to regional flexible space will also help corporates adjust to enduring changes in working norms catalysed by Covid-19 – namely the increase of the agile working style with more homeworking. The ability to obtain space that need not house the entirety of the workforce is not only cost-effective but, in the new space-conscious era we now live in, is also a safer option for employees.
Emma Long is managing director of the North at BizSpace