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The future of the office

Over 12 months after the global pandemic began, we’re starting to return to the office, socialize with friends and family, and in general getting our lives a little bit more back to normal. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss the possibilities for office working, how returning industries could be influencing this, and how large office owners, landlords, and real estate companies will make the most of potentially underutilized space.

What we learned about office work during the pandemic

For a lot of us and employers, the pandemic created new fears that all of the time at home would lead to us feeling too comfortable to produce quality work and procrastinate. 

However, the realization that with the right technology those that work from home can be equally if not more productive came as a pleasant surprise. 

The possibility of having a clearer work-life balance opened up, and is something many employees will continue to look forward to.

Despite this, the need for offices hasn’t gone away. 

If you’re like me you’ll know that homeworking isn’t something that works for everyone, and in order to keep productivity high, there has to be an alternative.

Of course meetings of a sensitive, legal, and confidential matter will still need to be face-to-face.

New working environments

As this conversation has developed over the last 12 months, there has been much speculation around finding the perfect balance of home and office setting, with some businesses changing their office layouts completely.

Attempting to add to employee lifestyles, offices have become open, greener, and have new benefits such as juice bars, and gyms. Take a look at how Very Groups revenue growth during lockdown has led to a redesign of their offices – Very Group’s transformed HQ

Hotel Offices

For those that don’t follow the traditional 9-5, and move around frequently take the opportunity to use lobbies, bars, restaurants and cafes for a near “free” workspace.

As the industry was hit hard by the pandemic, many hospitality companies had to adjust their offerings to stay afloat and continue to compete in the wounded market. These offerings often look to provide a dedicated space for those to work but with added room, and venue benefits.

Check out this Forbes blog which highlights how key players in the hospitality industry have adapted to the new climate.

Hybrid Meetings

Hybrid Meetings are a mix of virtual and physical presence. These meetings work by connecting a physical team in a conference room with a subset of individuals in other areas, typically to exchange content and development ideas.

Because there is a physical aspect to this meeting, less technology is required to connect every individual, keeping the risk of poor connectivity and disconnection low.

See a hybrid meeting in action

Suburban Offices

In 2020 a market survey was conducted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that:

  • 93% of respondents envisage businesses scaling back their office footprint over the next two years as people move to home working
  • 64% feel offices will increasing move out to the suburbs, as anecdotal evidence cites a move towards local shopping behaviour and a potential revival of local highstreets

After spending over a year remotely working from home, and being encouraged to go out into nature, it doesn’t seem likely the returning workforce will trade a greener and cleaner lifestyle for old stuffy offices.

By moving to smaller offices outside of city spaces, employees will have a greater control over their work-life balance and have the opportunity to go to the office when necessary, or required by their employer.

The need for offices HASN’T disappeared

The need is to become more efficient for venue owners, their tenants, and adding benefits to those using the space.

“With wellness now very much at the forefront of many employers’ minds, the workplace will dramatically change by giving people a choice of where and how they want to work when they aren’t working from home.” 

Quote by Danny Parmar (The Midlands and East Anglia chairman of industry body the British Council for Offices) in a BusinessLive interview published on March 21st, 2021.

Medium and large office spaces that stand dormant aren’t and won’t be making the most of their available spaces. And as companies look to move into smaller offices to ultimately reduce costs, it will become increasingly difficult for owners to close the gap.

So how can venue owners work with their tenants to meet specific needs while staying cost effective? A frequent Purple answer… Technology!

Artificial intelligence provides insights to how a space is used by its occupants. This information reveals:

Occupancy management

The post Covid world will be increasingly aware of their health no matter the location, and to  reassure occupants of their safety display how many occupants are already within the desired location

Footfall

The journey all occupants take from entrance to exit, displaying where the most popular locations are within a venue.

Dwell time

How much time is spent by occupants in certain areas such as the venue entrance. High dwell time in this area for example can signify congestion which could become a health and safety concern.

Space utilization

The clearest benefit of space utilization for companies that rent, is the ability to see whether they need as much space as they have and if they are using it to the best of their ability.

Knowing how space is being used lets venue owners know if there is an opportunity to see if current tenants are likely to look elsewhere and plan for larger or multiple replacements.

However this ability can also provide tenants with the opportunity to re-structure how their office works by having purpose set areas or sublet to reduce cost.

Want to know more about the future of offices?

Presence & Location by Purple

The future of the office Purple Webinar

Hotels Are Staying In Business By Turning Rooms Into Offices by Forbes

How Bruntwood Works’ ‘hybrid’ approach to the office is preparing for a post-pandemic Manchester by BusinessLive

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