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It has been nearly 4 months since many employees embarked on home working (49% of the UK in fact). For some workplaces, flexible working was already the norm, but other companies have had to completely rotate the way they function and navigate a new landscape where employees work outside of the office.

 

Whilst working from home during these times has been more of a health requirement than personal choice, there is no denying that it has had some benefits. So much so, that there are numerous articles and social media posts calling for ‘the death of the office’ and for businesses to continue to run remotely post Covid-19.

 

Benefits of Remote Working

A lot of employees have enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of working from home. Those with children who are not one of the year groups attending school are especially relieved as they can continue to work from home.

 

Some noticeable perks include:

  • Allows employees to juggle childcare commitments and reach a better work/life balance
  • Reduces carbon emissions and eradicates rush hour
  • Reduces costs of running an office / premises
  • Fewer distractions (unless your children are also at home
 

For now, remote working may continue to be a necessary requirement for workplaces until they are prepared or given the green light to reopen. But looking ahead to the future, are offices a thing of the past?

 

Still a Place for Workplaces

 

In a recent survey (Gensler 2020) 70% of people said that they wanted to work from an office. Whilst some expressed an interest is working from home occasionally, the workplace was where they wanted to work from most of the week.

 

Nearly three quarters of workers surveyed missed people the most. There is a distinct lack of social interaction when working from home. Even if you managed to keep in touch with regular Zoom calls or social events such as online quizzes. The human element of working with peers is not the same.

 

Some downsides include:

  • Lack of stimulation and human interaction
  • Can affect employee’s mental health
  • Employees less likely to ask for help, share ideas, request support, training or ask for additional work
  • Requires high level of trust
  • Lack of creativity
  • Requires additional IT, data and compliance considerations

Workplace of the Future

 

Offices will certainly change. For now, no one is certain what they will look like until lockdown and social distancing measures are lifted. But we may live in a world where people continue to air on the side of caution for some time.

 

In the short term there will be a requirement for desks or work stations to be further apart, hot-desking may no longer work due to sharing of equipment and work surfaces, high traffic areas will need attention and common spaces like canteens, kitchens and staff rooms could be out of bounds.

 

Finding Your Solution

 

Depending on how your business has fared over the last 3 months, you may be making cost savings in the form of redundancies. If this is the case, then you may find that a few less people in your premises allow for good social distancing practice. Alternatively, you may find that the space you own, or lease is too big and cost savings per sqm can be reduced by moving.

 

Some companies that have thrived during these times or were already operating at full capacity may now need to readdress their property requirements to allow for more space.

 

Companies who have been worse hit are sadly needing to close some premises or exit their lease agreements as they wind up trading.

 

Some considerations:

 
  • Do you have flexibility with your commercial rent?
  • Can you take a rent holiday or negotiate your payments?
  • Do you need more or less office space during the upcoming months?
  • Is your premises fit for purpose with the employee number you expect to retain?
  • What is your long term plan as a business?
  • Can some staff continue to stay on furlough? Work from home? Or work different shift patterns?
  • What precautions or PPE do you need to put in place before you reopen?

Practical Legal Advice

 

If you are facing challenges with your business property then please get in touch with Melanie Roberts, Associate and Head of Commercial Property on 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambbrooks.com

Other articles you may be interested in reading:

Open for Business: Is Your Office Repaired?

Keeping Control of Your Empty Business Premises

Do I Still Need to Pay my Commercial Property Rent?

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.