Downsizing And Flexibility: What Businesses Want During Covid-19

According to new research from flexible workspace broker, Flexioffices, the face of the UK workplace is changing like never before.
  • UK office broker, Flexioffices, has conducted research to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.
  • Results suggest that 57% of businesses are looking to downsize and 39% want more flexible contracts.
  • 2 out of 3 employers say that maintaining employee morale during the pandemic has been a challenge.

Since the 4th of July, many businesses, industries and establishments returned to work with social distancing measures in place. However, for many businesses, the post Covid-19 workplace looks very different. Adapting and being flexible to the new demands of work life is a key part in moving forward, but how are businesses planning on implementing this?

Flexioffices carried out some research to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on businesses and how they are reprioritising business and employee needs. Flexioffices conducted a survey of over 391 decision-makers and influencers of office space, across 13 different industry sectors and covering 10 different UK regions.

It was found that 74% of businesses have been significantly impacted as a result of Covid-19, and 2 out of 3 employers say that maintaining employee morale during the pandemic has been a challenge.

The most significant change that faces businesses is their office space. Given the overheads in property letting and the proven capabilities of employees working from home, it isn’t a surprise that businesses are going to look at reducing their space and rent. When thinking about their future office space, 21% of respondents say the size of their office space will be the most important consideration, 19% say price and 19% say location.

36% of businesses in London are looking to move away from their current city, 56% are encouraging more flexible working hours, and 39% of those who are looking to move want more flexible contracts.

24% of those in ‘people’ roles say that the one thing they want to change is access to more breakout spaces and communal areas. However, 23% of managing directors and senior decision-makers say price and size of office space are the most important factors when making a decision about a future office space.

The majority of respondents want better cleanliness and improved technology in their office space.

On the return to work, many businesses will need to implement changes and processes in order to facilitate a safe working environment and protect their staff. However, that might not be so straightforward. Across the board, businesses are most concerned with implementing social distancing measures in the office (21%), implementing new technology (15%), and needing increased flexibility in their premise’s contracts (16%).

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So, we know that organisations are looking to move, they are looking to move quickly, and they are looking for flexible contracts, but what about the spaces themselves? Well, 57% of businesses will be looking to downsize and more specifically 44% will be looking to downsize and encourage their people to work remotely. It seems the face of the UK workplace is changing like never before.

Most businesses want to downsize their office space and continue remote work arrangements.

Additional results found:

  • 44% of people who currently own their office space are looking to rent next time
  • 42% of businesses in London are now moving or considering moving as a direct result of COVID-19
  • However, 53% of the rest of the UK aMost businesses want to downsize their office space and continue remote work arrangements.
    re less inclined to move
  • For those considering moving, 58% will be downsizing
  • Of those planning to move/considering it, 55% will be looking to make a decision in the next 3-6 months.

Michael Dubicki, Director of Business Development at Flexioffices commented;

“Covid-19 has had a profound effect on businesses. Ultimately, it has asked deeper questions of the office. What does the office actually do? Why do we have them? Do we need them? The pandemic has asked businesses to re-look at office space and include the perspective of how it affects people – their productivity, their wellbeing, how they interact together and engage in positive experiences.

“Because of this, Flexioffices decided to conduct a survey of UK businesses to find out more about changing attitudes to the workplace and what it is likely to look like after COVID-19.

“Alongside the expected focus around price and location, the primary drivers affecting the thought process around office space are now heavily weighted towards a much greater focus on future flexibility of contracts, wellbeing of people and the quality / cleanliness of the environment, coupled with an overwhelming desire to reduce the overall size of space being occupied.”

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