Predictions of prime office space coming up for let post-Covid are filling media pages, and many bosses are asking ‘Do we need an office?’ – as it becomes harder to justify asking staff to make the daily commute, having successfully worked from home for several months.
But giving up your office space, comes with both challenges and opportunities. Offices are costly, aside from the rent, there are usually many other associated fees, such as service charges, business rates, lighting and heating, cleaning, insurance, waste disposal… but equally, nobody wants to go back to conducting meetings in coffee shops or displaying their home address on their website and business cards after having had an office space already.
Will employees continue to work from home?
At the time of writing (18th June) the Government guidelines continue to state that those can work from home, should continue to do so, and it unlikely that this is going to change anytime soon. For many businesses, this means expensive offices are sat empty – and even once the guidance is changed, bosses are likely to meet resistance from employees who feel there is no justifiable need to insist they commute to the office to sit there 9-5 each day.
Face to Face meetings – are they dead?
Even the most reluctant technophobes have been forced to give ‘Zoom’ and online meetings a go, and while there is still a place for face-to-face meetings, a great many have realised they clocked up a lot of unnecessary miles pre-lockdown for meetings that could have very easily been conducted this way. Why would anyone want to go back to sitting in roadworks, dodging parking fines and getting up at 5am to race across the country for a 9am meeting, when the last three months have demonstrated that meetings can be equally as productive online?
Offices are a big cost, but so is commuting. With businesses paying out for company cars, fuel, meals and accommodation expenses, not to mention the wages of their staff while they spend six hours at a standstill on the M6 – it makes no sense commercially to attend face to face meetings.
Organisations will become leaner
It is no secret that the economic impact of Covid has been huge. Many businesses have, and will, fold this year and many more will be hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Many will only survive by substantially cutting costs, and this will mean redundancies and slimming down on overheads.
An office for most small businesses, stands them at somewhere between £500 and £2000 per month, which is a big financial commitment and one many are now considering unnecessary.
Coworking spaces (like ours!) offer dedicated work stations for a fixed price, without the long contracts. It allows the business to maintain a professional image – with a Boardroom/meeting room to conduct meetings where they are unavoidable at an all inclusive price of £150 per month.
Availability of talent
Many sectors are challenged by the availability of local talent when recruiting. When asking people to commute to the office every day, they are limited to maybe a 40-50 talent radius – but when you move to remote working, suddenly you have your pick of anyone in the whole of the UK, maybe even the world!
We are also likely to see a steep rise in the number of freelancers, as people are made redundant from their jobs and struggle to find alternative employment during a recession when few are hiring. Equally, companies are becoming leaner by hiring freelancers for tasks that were previously performed in-house – shedding the costly obligations of national insurance, pensions and HR responsibilities.
Coworking offers a middle ground
Being at home all day, every day just isn’t practical for everyone. Some have partners and young children in the house, and even those who have a quiet and dedicated office at home can feel isolated without other human interaction from time to time.
We are finding an increase in the number of companies who are ditching their full office space, to a dedicated desk in our shared office space so that their employees have somewhere to go, even if it is just one day a week to get a nice coffee and be amongst other people.
Find out more about our flexible shared office facilities in Blackpool, which will be reopening Monday 29th June 2020!