Thinking of re-signing your lease or moving to a new office? Have you considered that right now you may not need an office at all
Yes, BRM finds, creates and delivers workplaces that work well. The property services we’re known for include search, lease negotiation, advisory and office design. And while our advisory services are mostly centred around the idea of the physical office space, we like to assess EVERY option available to our clients, including the notion of no office at all. This previously unheard of concept will likely gain traction in the years to come, with many businesses re-assessing their workspace after undergoing the largest working from home experiment in workplace history.
Many tenants find themselves in unchartered waters, particularly those whose lease will expire in the next 6-12 months. One year ago, BRM would advise on typical leasing considerations like the stay vs go scenario.In the last few months however, many of our clients have faced significant changes that have forced them to look at their space in a different way. Questions that were once reserved for workplace design experts are now being asked by almost every commercial tenant:
• Does everyone need to be in the office to get the job done?
• How can we optimise our space for greater efficiency and collaboration?
• What do we do with the unused space?
• How and where do our people work best?
Will this lead to the ‘death’ of the office? Certainly not. We will always need workplaces to collaborate. But the idea of having no office at all for a temporary period of time may not be as absurd as once thought for tenants approaching the end of their lease.
BRM recently advised a client at the end of their lease who needed to reduce occupancy costs. While we focused on the option of re-negotiating their lease and altering their existing space vs finding a new space to fit their requirements, we also explored the idea of going without an office at all for a certain period of time.
Could the idea work? We’ve found that it can, based on the following factors:
Technology – advancements in technology means the risk of temporarily working without an office is fairly low. The global working from home experience has proved the success of online systems. The move from your physical space to a “virtual office” has effectively happened already!
Alternative working environments – Workers don’t only have home or the office to choose from. The growing trend of ‘alternative workspaces’ such as the co-working space can provide a third option where staff can be provided desks on an “as needed” basis. Such spaces can also accommodate staff according to their location with desks spread out throughout the city instead of one large office space. Most co-working spaces offer a 3, 6 or 12 month option while you work out the next step in your property strategy.
Staff Engagement – a recent staff survey conducted by BRM for a not-for-profit organisation found that assumptions about staff based on pre-COVID conditions were no longer relevant. Most people surveyed were open to different ways of working and viewed workplace change in a positive light. Understanding how your people work may prove that a physical office space doesn’t serve them in the short term. Many are home schooling, some live far away and others are simply scared to travel into work at the moment. To learn how you can engage your staff as part of your property strategy contact our People Team
Market activity - in these uncertain times, many tenants are hesitant to sign a new lease. The lockdowns, and current Stage 4 restrictions have given businesses the chance to re-assess their space. Those whose lease is set to expire soon may not want to rush into a new lease before they get a clear picture of where the market is heading.
Quality of connection, not quantity of space – In its global shake-up the pandemic has shown us that a workspace is less about the space itself and more about the people within it. In order to stay resilient, businesses understand that the key to connection is quality, not quantity. To stay connected and productive, we will need far more than a physical office. We’ve had to rely on creative ways to keep going and while it was strange at first, we’ve passed the working-from-home threshold and become accustomed to not going into the office.
Workplaces are now more agile and distributed than ever before. Already in pre-COVID times, a younger generation of workers were focused on quality of experience, rather than status and location of office buildings.
The office of tomorrow is about so much more than space. It’s about how we work. Do we still need a physical space? Absolutely. But as the pandemic continues and we face more challenges in the near future, office space may not be the highest priority. And that’s ok for now.
Contact BRM's Property Team to discuss your current leasing situation and discover how we can help you re-think your workplace.
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