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A New Hybrid way of Working

A New Hybrid Way of Working

As lockdown restrictions start to ease, business owners, landlords and operators recognise that a new hybrid way of working is coming to the fore – agility now takes on numerous meanings as a business quality: agility around workplace occupancy, design, location and tenure. These elements of workspace evolution were always on the future agenda but Covid-19 has significantly accelerated their development.

With worries about commuting and having to rejuggle the work-life balance, many workers are keen to return to the workplace but want to stay closer to home so businesses are starting to explore the benefits of having a ‘work-near-home’ model as well as a central head office.

While it was born as a survival tactic through Covid-19, for commercial real estate, working near home will be part of the next normal.

A recent survey by KPMG showed that 69% of businesses were planning to cut their office space in light of this; a sign that having a more dispersed portfolio is likely to be the way of the future.

“While it was born as a survival tactic through Covid-19, working near home will be part of the next normal.”

We are already seeing this nascent hub and spoke model with large corporate clients looking at regional office locations and assessing their options. The market will have to work hard to adapt to this new demand given its current location bias.

Since the start of the pandemic, having spoken with over 50 heads of corporate real estate across the globe as part of our Agile CRE Think Tank (ACT), we estimate that we will see up to 75% of firms move towards a more agile real estate strategy. This is not the death of the office, but the introduction of a more network focused office set-up using a combination of workspaces including the central office, working-from-home and the work-near-home office.

A “Network Focused” Office Setup

Satellite offices in and around key suburban areas closer to employees’ homes will help alleviate both safety and commuting time concerns while still providing teams an opportunity to gather, engage, collaborate and create. As lockdown eases, these offices will allow for the first phase of reopening and reengagement with teammates. The main office will still provide a base for connection and more brand-centric focus, but visits will more likely be planned in advance and have specific outcomes.

For flexible workspace this provides a significant opportunity and will ensure that flex supply exceeds the 12.5% of total office supply that we predicted by 2023.

Businesses must face the reality that the future work model is likely to include more flexible working patterns and more working from home. When thinking about the CRE strategy, it will become important to not just offer more flexible working locations but also to understand their operational performance and the value they represent. Clients have struggled with this issue in the past.

It might have taken a global pandemic for companies to be able to realise this change in strategy, but it seems inevitable now that we are going to see more and more businesses of all shapes and sizes looking for a more flexible workplace approach with agility at its core.

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