With 50% of the UK workforce working from home or working remotely in 2020 due to the pandemic, long term change to the typical workplace is inevitable.  But what does this change look like?

We’ve consulted with over 150 organisations from global corporates, sme’s to tech start-ups and this is what they’ve said…

Q: Imagine your office in 12 months’ time, a vaccine has been developed and global economies are running again, what percentage of your staff do you expect to continue working remotely/from home on a fixed basis?

A: 73% said more than 10% of the workforce would work remotely.

Statistics like these come as no surprise, because the shift to increased remote working had already started in many companies prior to the pandemic, but on a much smaller scale.  One positive that has come out of this is that it’s given companies of all types and sizes the opportunity to see whether remote working is feasible for them going forward.  Many companies have proved the benefits of home working and are likely to build this into their plans for the long-term as this article from CNN shows.  In many cases, with technology now in place to support this kind of agile working, we are now seeing trends of an anticipated decrease in office space occupancy going forward.

So, what does this mean for the future of the typical workspace?

Obviously, with change all around us on a pretty epic scale, it is difficult to conclusively answer this question, but through listening to what our customers are telling us and through following the quickly evolving trends in how people are working now, we are now seeing patterns emerging in the industry.  For one thing, with office occupancy potentially on the decline for several businesses, as statistics show, it is provoking companies to reconsider the size and space utilisation of their office spaces.  If occupancy is down by 40 – 50%, it makes little sense to have rows and rows of desking for staff who may well only be in 2 – 3 days a week.

Wasted space for anyone becomes a liability because in effect, you are paying for something that isn’t being used to its full capacity.  At the same time, we do need to take into consideration that with social distancing and hygiene measures that are currently in place, we certainly aren’t promoting having high concentrations of people in the same space.  However, Covid-19 isn’t going to last forever so we need to be looking beyond our immediate needs to make sure we can cater for our future needs as well as our current ones.

Like many people, you may be thinking ‘if people are finding their focused, individual type of work is best done at home, then what is the office workspace used for instead?’

A number of our customers are now exploring the concept of the workplace becoming a hub-style, collaborative space where people come to have meetings, develop social connections with other team members and engage in teamwork activities.  If responding to emails and carrying out high focused individual work can be done more effectively at home, then companies are prepared to reconsider the use of their offices to accommodate these changes in the way people work.

For companies who are looking to relocate, downsizing office space in response to lower occupancy is a great opportunity.  If property rent costs are lower due to lower square footage, businesses are able to better invest in their workspace fitout so that they are truly inspirational and high productivity spaces.  Likewise, if companies are going to reduce their square footage footprint, it also creates the opportunity to operate in a prime location without necessarily experiencing a significant rental cost increase.

Whilst changing the location of offices spaces may be the last thing on people’s minds at this point, many companies are actively engaging in repurposing the space they do have to make it relevant to the needs of their teams now and in the future.

Every person and every company have their own way of working but it’s about making sure that our workspaces effectively accommodate the needs of teams and individuals to enable higher productivity and growth.  Here at Habit Action we are extremely passionate about this subject, as we have always focussed heavily on combining logic and data with beautiful designs to create a truly awesome workspace!

Reach out to us on [email protected] or give us a call on +44(0)20 8991 6057

Our workplace consultants and designers would love to ensure you gain the most from this opportunity – be inspired by our recent projects.

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