Physical offices to be more important post-Covid

OFFICES
Tim Harrup

International businesses, says broker Knight Frank in its latest global survey, are looking to their workplaces to re-stimulate corporate brand and culture after the pandemic, which will see significantly improved amenities and services available for employees. Despite over a year of restricted access to offices, businesses continue to identify their workplaces as an essential component of their corporate identity and vital for retaining and reinvigorating employees during the post-pandemic period. Knight Frank states that 90% of global occupiers surveyed indicated that real estate is a strategic device for their business. And half of those surveyed (49%) cited ‘corporate brand and image’ as the top strategic priority fulfilled by their real estate, while offices are also increasingly seen as a tool for improving employee wellbeing, collaboration, and talent attraction and retention, with each of these categories referenced by more than a third (37%) of companies responding.

Relocation

Knight Frank goes on to say that he need to improve office amenities or adjust workplace strategies will see up to one in four firms relocate their corporate headquarters after the pandemic. Some 38% of firms said it is either likely, very likely or definite that they will relocate their corporate headquarters within the next three years. This is likely to see even more competition for the highest quality and best-located space in the coming years. Such a trend would result in a flight to quality space, as 92% of companies say they are planning to increase or retain the same level of quality in their offices. Many businesses are also planning to increase their use of offices to support their growth ambitions beyond the pandemic, with 30% of firms looking to increase their total office space within the next three years. In total, 65% of firms plan to grow or stabilise their current level of space. Companies will embrace a new era of agile working by enhancing their corporate offices, not abandoning them.

William Beardmore-Gray, Global Head of Occupier Services and Commercial Agency at Knight Frank, comments: “There is a mood of change in the air. Global firms are looking beyond the pandemic and are focused on how their workplaces can enhance corporate culture and re-engage employees in a new age of agile working. We are seeing a re-familiarisation with the office beginning in many big cities around the world. Firms want to give employees the best of both worlds, allowing them to work flexibly, but making their offices the best possible experience, which means delivering higher quality and more engaging workplaces. Half of all firms are already planning to reconfigure their real estate portfolios and remodel their workplaces over the next three years to ensure they are providing employees, colleagues and potential new talent with the best spaces to work, learn and thrive. Businesses will gravitate towards offices that offer a more dynamic work environment and experience, utilise technology and reduce environmental impact.”