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Robert Irving Burns

How Can Commercial Landlords Keep Up with Constantly Changing Office Trends?

October 11, 2021    |   Robert Irving Burns

Commercial landlords realise the importance of keeping up with trends in office space leasing. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, workers were forced to work from home. Then there was some speculation that the traditional office environment would not return to pre-Covid-19 levels.

However, recent trends show that the physical office environment will continue to play a vital role in many business operations—albeit in a more hybrid form.

This article examines the current trends in leasing commercial office space and how this could impact tenants.

How the Pandemic Changed Commercial Tenants’ Expectations

The coronavirus pandemic caused many businesses to re-examine their operations. Many business owners realised they could save money on office space leases by encouraging a work-from-home environment. Additionally, employees enjoyed the relative freedom that working remotely offers.

However, recent trends show that it’s not all doom and gloom in the commercial market. Business leaders and many workers realise that office space is still necessary to run a successful business. As a result, many offices have become a hub for collaboration and training. Additionally, staff enjoy the interaction, stimulation and comradery that teamwork provides.

How Commercial Landlords Can Meet the Demands of Changing Office Trends

Many of the emerging trends in commercial office space revolve around flexibility. Prospective tenants want to ensure that they can quickly adapt leased office space to rapidly changing conditions. This can include modifying office layouts, allowing for extra distancing if necessary, and deferring rent if public restrictions come into force.

Here are some ways to ensure that your commercial space meets the needs of prospective tenants.

Flexibility in office layouts

To meet future needs, commercial landlords must offer more flexible office space. Tenants want to be able to modify the office layout to fit their needs. This could involve having the ability to change the office layout when more remote workers are expected in the office.

Having a co-working space will take on even greater importance in the new emerging office culture. For example, having a combination of shared and designated desks is ideal when on-site staff numbers change. Or it could be that the conference room is in the middle of workstations, not somewhere down the corridor.

It is also becoming increasingly crucial that leased office space incorporates breakrooms, quiet booths, social areas and shared private enclaves. For example, some businesses are making workstations slightly smaller and then using the increased space to incorporate a shared private meeting room.

These trends require landlords to change their approach to office styling.

Change in occupational densities

The pandemic made everyone used to social distancing. So now, employees want more space in the office environment. Consequently, it seems logical that landlords plan for an increased density of more than the recommended 8 to 10 sq m per person. Some commercial landlords are planning for up to 12 sq m per employee.

Of course, there are times when a large proportion of employees are working from home. However, the office space should continue to allow maximum capacity for all employees.

Furniture is one area to consider when fitting out office space to meet future trends. Flexible offices require flexibility in the design and placement of furniture. For example, it may be necessary to have meeting areas or quiet study areas that allow for social distancing. There is also the tendency to install larger, 1.6-metre desks and have personal storage lockers for employees.

ESG is becoming increasingly important

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) will have a huge impact on office culture. Commercial landlords can benefit from this trend by incorporating natural and sustainable materials in the office fit-out. At the COP26 summit in Glasgow, 2021, nearly 80 per cent of investors said that ESG was a crucial factor in investment decision-making.

Commercial landlords can develop a unique selling point by highlighting how the leased office space meets the highest ESG criteria. This factor is vital for business owners striving to develop a workplace that positively impacts employee mood, mental health and happiness levels.

Smart technology is vital

One thing the pandemic taught everyone is that technology is vitally important. Commercial landlords can attract more tenants by offering the latest technological solutions. The basics are providing super-fast broadband and high-quality Wi-Fi in all parts of the building.

However, having the latest videoconferencing infrastructure, apps to book meeting rooms, and property management apps can help to streamline operations for tenants and landlords.

Tenants are paying more attention to fit out

An emerging trend after the pandemic is more business owners looking for higher levels of office fit-out. Smaller businesses are looking to lease Cat A+ with a focus on “ready-to-work” office space. Tenants are looking for fully serviced office space where they can incorporate their brand.

When it comes to larger-scale companies, the trend is in the opposite direction. The larger the company, the less fit-out is necessary. Tenants want to personalise their office space and bring in their own bespoke solutions to suit their needs.

Air filtering systems and public health concerns

Since the pandemic, more people have been aware of the transmission of disease. In addition, no one knows if a future pandemic will affect businesses the same way coronavirus did. Therefore, commercial landlords can “future-proof” buildings by investing in robust air ventilation systems. This may mean having separate ventilation on each floor. Or increasing the frequency that air changes take place.

In some cases, it may be necessary to offer enhanced cleaning and easy sanitisation of common areas, provide social distancing in lifts or ensure that a hybrid office layout allows increased distancing.

Meeting Changing Office Trends — In Conclusion

Innovative solutions will continue to affect the way workers interact in an office space. For example, hybrid offices will likely continue to develop and change to meet the needs of office and home working. Some things to look out for in the future are hot desks that adjust to individual preferences, balloon walls to create flexible spaces and digital rooms for seamless video conferencing.

Whatever changes take place in the future, keeping up with current trends in commercial office leasing will help landlords provide the best solutions to tenants.

If you’re a commercial landlord in London looking to lease your office space, get in touch with the RIB commercial lettings team today. Simply contact us on the details shown below. Alternatively, if you’re a business looking for office space in London, you can browse available workspaces here.

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