There will be more choice and variety in tomorrow’s offices, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s The Future of Office Investment Briefing, which took place online recently.
The jury’s out as to the long-term impact of the Covid-19 emergency: whether the colossal home-working experiment during lockdown will lead to less time spent in the office or whether things will go back to normal once the emergency is over.
‘Different solutions will emerge,’ said Jarek Morawski, Director, Research and Analysis, Grosvenor Europe. ‘There will be more variety in the office sector, just like in the logistics sector. Productivity and creativity are sparked by collaboration, so people will want to return to the office, but there will be a range of solutions’.
The focus on traditional CBD offices, until now the most obvious place to meet and the easiest to travel to, may be fading as workers prefer to commute less and opt for quality of life and quality of the environment.
‘The quality of the building is more important than its location, provided that the location is accessible’, said Morawski.
Greener locations in a less urban environment could become more popular.
‘The biggest change I see is that HQs are changing, some companies are leaving the CBD to set up campuses, large spaces in a green environment because people don’t want to work in skyscrapers anymore,’ said Cees van der Spek, Public Affairs & Global Corporate Relations Director, EDGE Technologies.
Experts agreed that the 9 to 5, five days a week working in the office model is unlikely to survive the pandemic.
‘The office is more important than ever but it must be re-purposed,’ said Jonny Rosenblatt, co-CEO, Spacemade. ‘My prediction is that people will go into central hubs a lot less, but it will be for one or two days a week for intensive and productive sessions in a group and then they’ll disperse again’.
New and different solutions are emerging, such as smaller satellite offices and neighbourhood shared offices, half-way houses between going back to HQ and working from home.
‘After working from home for weeks people are desperate to go back to the office but they don’t want to go back to commuting,’ said Rosenblatt. ‘We’ve just launched a shared space in Queen’s Park in London and the demand has been phenomenal, because people are happy to work more locally, surrounded by like-minded people’.
Satellite offices and secondary locations may be on the rise, but prime assets still seem to find favour From an investor’s point of view, CBD assets are expensive but liquid, while there is a risk element in suburban locations where vacancies could be high.
Real Asset Media conducted a survey asking market experts which locations provide the best opportunities in the office sector. An overwhelming 74% opted for prime CBD assets, with the rest of respondents equally split between suburban and secondary locations.
Missed Real Asset Media’s The Future of Office Investment Briefing? To catch up click on the video below: