- UK flexible office agency Offices.co.uk has noted clear demand for locations outside of city centres.
- There is a “clear short-term spike” in companies seeking sites with car parking and smaller private office suites.
- Larger firms are also looking at ‘hub-and-spoke’ models, with a city centre HQ and supporting flexible hubs in the suburbs.
Enquiries for out of town office locations have increased over the last month, as the appeal of car parking and the ability to social distance sees a shift from the city centres.
“I wouldn’t say people are deserting cities, but what we are seeing is a clear short-term spike in interest in office sites with car parking and smaller private office suites”, explains Jonathan Ratcliffe from flexible office agency Offices.co.uk, “it’ll be interesting to see if this continues into the medium-term”.
The office market is quite different to what it was before. Employers are listening to what their staff are asking for, and there is a clear shift away from busy areas and public transport. Out of town sites are usually on the outskirts of town with good transport links, with more green space and are ideal for those now driving to work.
“City centres are usually extremely poor for car parking, so if you are travelling by car to work, as we all are currently, you want a direct commute and a car parking space. People are actively avoiding other people on public transport. Car parking is the key feature tenants are asking for now”, explains Ratcliffe.
The demand for large physical office space in town and city centres is set to reduce as the trend for remote working gathers pace – however it is thought some form of office will still be required. Out of town demand is increasing now, as face-to-face meetings go virtual and therefore a city location becomes less important.
Manchester for example has plenty of choice of city centre office spaces, however it is the options on the outskirts where the current demand lies. Areas such as Old Trafford and Salford Quays, which both enjoy superb transport links, cheaper desk prices and more open space, have been the go-to areas over the past month.
Conor Shields, the Area Manager for IWG plc in Manchester says, “We’ve closed out June with a record-breaking month for: number of tours, number of enquiries AND number of deals signed for Regus Manchester Trafford Park and Regus Salford Quays Digital World. What we do know is the market is back, businesses are leaning towards more flexible working solutions now more than ever.”
In Newcastle, recruitment firm NRG has signed an out of town lease at the Quorum Office Park located 4 miles from Newcastle City Centre, with great transport links to the A1 and A19.
Therese Liddle, CEO at NRG explains, “The City Centre was a great place for NRG for many years but as we grow and offer clients more agile solutions, we identified even before the Covid-19 crisis a shift in the way businesses recruit. The NEON building perfectly complements our brand and vision, allowing us to drive our business forward and facilitate our next phase of growth, while giving our teams a brilliant vibrant place to work.”
Large corporates are also looking outside of City centres, with trends such as “hub-and-spoke” – a city centre HQ with supporting flexible hubs in the suburbs, demonstrating a trend away from busy cities, which has been turbo-charged by the current situation.
“City centres are in a quandary. We know once a vaccine has been developed and the fear has gone that they will once again thrive, but for now it’s all about cars and smaller private offices for those wanting to get back to work”, concludes Ratcliffe.