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BusinessNew Survey from Orega Reveals over one third (36%) of Northern businesses...

New Survey from Orega Reveals over one third (36%) of Northern businesses say they plan to reduce their space requirements – with 58% of those businesses saying they would consider some form of flex space

64% of Northern Businesses Say They Want the Flexibility to Upsize and Downsize as Office Needs Change

A new survey launched today by flex space operator, Orega, confirms the massive shift in working patterns since the pandemic with 58% of employees saying they are embracing a hybrid way of working- and this is having a significant impact on office requirements.

The independent survey of 500 business leaders and 2,000 UK office workers across the UK reveals that just under two thirds of Northern businesses (64%) want the flexibility to change their office requirements – either through upsizing or downsizing and over a third with 36% of Northern businesses saying they plan to reduce their space requirements.

And although only 4% of Northern businesses plan to cut office space by more than a half, the majority, (63%) plan to reduce space by a sizeable 20 – 50% with only 8% of those businesses surveyed planned to look for larger offices.

The survey also revealed a growing interest in using a hub and spoke model of working – in the main office most of the time and then using a local serviced office near to the employee’s home.

Businesses to Take Action When Lease Ends

Less than half (42%) of Northern businesses said they would retain the office as is when their lease ends – with a further 17% saying they would keep their office space and allow employees to also work in flexible workplaces near home.

Many of the businesses looking to reduce their office space are also looking to switch from long leases to flex, with almost half (48%) of Northern business leaders said the pandemic and the move to new ways of working have led them to rethink existing leasing models.

Many firms do not know what they will need in the long term so having the freedom to upsize and downsize is crucial, which is why having some flex space has become a more attractive proposition.

A substantial 58% of Northern businesses surveyed said they would consider some form of serviced office/ flex space

42% of office workers also stated they would like to work in the office and near home in flex or serviced office space rather than working from home, a figure that rose to 45% among men and 44% among the 16-30 aged group.

A Flight to ESG, quality, privacy and a quiet place to work

There also appears to be a flight to quality in terms of office space. Employees across the UK revealed the most important thing about their office are environmental issues such as fresh clean air (73%,) suitable and controllable temperature (72%) and direct access to natural light (71%) – but the ability to develop relationships with colleagues, (73%), a quiet space to concentrate (69%) and privacy (62%) scored highly too.

Down the bottom of the list were facilities such as barista-style coffee services (29%), gyms (25%) and connections to other businesses in the same building. Indeed 74% of respondents said this was not important (voted 1-6).

Over 70% of the 16–34-year-olds surveyed said their priorities for the office were to provide quiet spaces to concentrate (70%), fresh clean air (73%), have controllable temperature (72%) and direct access to natural light (71%).  73% also mentioned the benefit of access to colleagues. Given the difficulties many young people faced as they tried to work from home in unsuitable accommodation, a good warm office environment certainly has its attractions.

The survey also revealed:

Both cost and the wellbeing of staff remain high on the agenda for business leaders across all of the UK when considering their property requirements – with 87% of business leaders said that the cost of office space is the key driver in making their property decisions and wellbeing of staff (at 85%) coming a close second. These indicate that concerns about looking after and retaining staff are still high priorities on the agenda for business leaders as we emerge post pandemic.

How important are the following considerations when making decisions about your office?

Hybrid Ways of Working Now Supported by Employers – Return to Five Days in The Office Unlikely

The survey confirms the massive shift in working patterns with 58% of employees saying they are embracing a hybrid way of working, most commonly working three days in the office and two days remotely compared to pre pandemic when hybrid working which was practiced by 22% of workers with 73% of workers coming into the office 5 days a week and  5% of staff working from home. Now only 27% of workers come into the office every day with 15% working full time from home.

This new trend has found favour with employees – with 40% of those surveyed saying new methods of working have helped their mental health.

But also most employers also seem to be happy with this trend, although Northern businesses were slightly more sceptical than the UK average. From our survey of 500 business leaders, 56% said they prefer their staff to do a mixture of working from home and in the office, a significant  increase from 48% in 2021. For Northern businesses (a quarter of our survey) this percentage was 48%.  However, 71% of Northern businesses  also said they felt remote working during the pandemic had had either a positive (35%) or no impact (36%) on productivity. This percentage was slightly higher than across the rest of the UK (68%).

What Businesses Want from Their Office

New working trends have also focused businesses on what they need from their offices. Across the UK 83% of businesses said they wanted staff to attend the office for the benefits of collaboration and communication, 78% for focus and productivity and 75% to stimulate creativity and inspiration. Employees seem to feel similarly with 57% of employees giving the office a high score as a social hub.

The office is by no means dead – it’s just changing and being used for other purposes.

Commenting on the survey results, Zach Douglas, CEO of Orega said, “Our survey has revealed the massive change that our office environment has undergone through and post the pandemic as hybrid working appears to be here to stay and most employers are accepting of this. Given overall hybrid working does not appear to be negatively impacting productivity in most industries but is also providing a positive impact on mental health and is preferred by most employees, we are unlikely to see a return to the full 5 days a week office working.

We also see that the office still has an essential role to play in the world of work in the North, as in the rest of the UK, particularly as a place to collaborate and communicate.  But employees of all age groups are also looking for privacy and a quiet place to work – which appears to be far more important to them than gyms and mixing with people from other businesses.

And thirdly, flexibility is becoming key. Nearly half of Northern business leaders said the pandemic has led them to rethink about existing leasing models, and when their leases are up one third of businesses are looking to reduce their office space. Many will keep existing space (43%) but another (17% ) said whilst they would keep their office space, they will allow employees to also work in flexible workplaces near home. More businesses than before are looking at flexible leases, serviced office and hub and spoke space.

The change is dramatic. In many ways the pandemic acted as a catalyst. Employees expect more and more from the offices in which they work – and so do companies if they are to keep their workers happy. The UK market is not giving up on the office – but to survive it must certainly adapt to the call for flexibility, high quality, ESG – and provide a quiet place to work.”

To access the full survey, please click on the link https://www.orega.com/future-of-the-office-report

News Desk
News Deskhttps://www.businessmanchester.co.uk/
The Business Manchester News Desk team is a collective of experienced journalists and editors dedicated to delivering comprehensive business news and insights from the Manchester area and beyond. With a strong background in finance, technology, property, and innovation, our team ensures that our readers stay well-informed about the latest trends and developments in the business world. Through in-depth reports and insightful analysis, the Business Manchester News Desk team is committed to providing high-quality journalism to its audience.
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