There is a lot of talk about whether companies are going to need as much office space going forward. This is against a background where employees have got used to working from home and some employers see an opportunity for making future savings on the cost of premises. There’s lots to think about from both the employee and employer’s points of view.
I attended a local Business Leaders briefing recently. The large corporations represented (all on big business parks) said this is an issue their businesses are looking at actively and if staff choose to continue to work from home (as they think will happen) then their head offices will leave their buildings as soon as they are able to. This led on to a discussion about the resulting need for “pod accommodation” to hold face-to-face meetings.
Predicting the death of the office is premature. I spoke to two of my colleagues last week while we were in the office for various reasons and both said they missed coming in and engaging with colleagues for both work and social reasons. Even though I have a great set up at home, any attraction of working there is wearing thin particularly as it blurs the important distinction between work and home.
Another related point that came up in our Corporate & Commercial meeting last week concerns the transactions we are working on now. Clients are paying far greater attention to property liabilities and assessing what space is required for the target business going forward. In practice, there is not very much a purchaser can do if it is acquiring a company that has property commitments. However, in two of the cases we are dealing with, the purchasers have tried to negotiate the price down on the basis the property liabilities are more than the company needs.
One to watch and see how it develops but too early to say whether the office is dead.
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