Results are in from our recent survey to find out peoples’ preferences regarding working from home vs. from the office, and the results are fascinating.
Over 80% of respondents would prefer a home/remote working life balance. Of that, 40% of respondents said they would prefer a 30%/70% split of working home vs. remotely. The other 40% conversely would prefer a 70%/30% split of working remotely vs from home.
The remaining 20% were split almost equally between preferring to work solely from home or from the office.
This shows that the overwhelming majority of people working in the real estate sector would prefer a split working arrangement where they spend part of their time at home and part at work.
The ugly effects of 100% working from home
I am not surprised that most people would prefer to spend at least some time back at the office; 38% of respondents in a recent survey by Deloitte said lockdown had had a negative impact on their wellbeing. Other research from Oktra noted that 59% of people struggled to stay motivated. Candidates struggling the most who I speak to seem to be the ones in shared housing, with lack of separate working spaces and a lot of Zoom interaction compounded by lack of face-to-face networking and socialising opportunities. People are not designed to be online all day. We are all social animals, after all.
According to the ONS, productivity has also declined; in the 2nd quarter of 2020, output per worker fell by almost a 5th. So based on our survey results, where 80% of people would like to work from home between 30-70% of the time, it is clear that this pandemic does not equal the end of offices; as such, I predict that there will still be a demand in the years ahead.
What does this mean for the future of the office sector?
The “hub and spoke” model of providing decentralised office spaces in satellite locations, particularly in major cities outside of London, will play a crucial part and offer those same people in shared housing access to office space. They will benefit from more agile working, allowing employees to work when and where they want. They will also benefit from the social interaction so sorely missing at the moment, without the tiring commute, concerns over hygiene or financial burden of large, expensive offices. I predict that this will particularly give a helping hand to younger candidates who have been excluded from London roles by hideously steep living and commuting costs. Instead, they will benefit from companies who were previously based in London being based from secondary major cities.
Ripple effects of “hub and spoke”
By cutting the commute to the office to three or four days a week, will workers have a greater excitement to be in the city? Perhaps they will want to network more and make the most of opportunities to socialise, for example, business lunches, after-work drinks or going for dinner? Maybe they will want to make the most of time in town with colleagues, friends, associates and clients. Additionally, corporate bookings could rise as companies look for venues to strengthen their workforce and build those bonds which have been broken during the long period of working from home.
Recruitment opportunities in these sectors
All this will have a substantial impact on the hospitality and leisure sector, with some clients I am speaking to already looking to bolster their teams with surveyors with leisure experience, particularly investment, leasing and valuations in the restaurant, bars, cafes, clubs and holiday sectors.
Hotels are also opening up to offering co-working spaces along with traditional cafes and restaurants. Ennismore Hotel is a typical example of that, where people can use their communal areas to meet, have coffee or just work from their laptop. In short, any business with public space is now in an era where trying to capitalise on the strong wave of flexible working demand is the norm. Companies already offering this to their employees are one step ahead of the curve. Candidates with flexible space leasing experience and a solid network of contacts are therefore more likely to find job opportunities than pre-Covid times.
A bright future ahead
Candidates and clients can soon look forward to a more permanent way of working flexibly and start to put behind them the negative mental impact of spending so much time without face-to-face contact and increased online meetings. As companies look to align their working practices to a more “hub and spoke” model, employees can look forward to enjoying the benefits of working in cities and town centres again. This will result in a resurgence in redevelopment opportunities arising, as well as more demand for candidates with leisure/hospitality experience. So, not only can decentralised office space help to reinstate town and city centres, but it will also improve culture and mental well-being for employees and produce more roles for those who help to create it. Working from home was a valuable short-term fix during the height of Covid-19, but long-term, it is clear the commercial property industry will benefit from returning to the office, even if that combines some working from home.
#realestate #offices #flexibleworking #hubandspoke #recruitment #headhunting
Lucy Winberg is Managing Director of Winberg Associates Property Recruitment, a boutique real estate search provider dedicated to the real estate industry.
If you are thinking of moving roles or would like to discuss current or future requirements, call 0203 865 6206 or email Lw@winbergassociates.com.