The workplace after lockdown - Ian Eggleton of Evans Jones
As we tentatively emerge from the coronavirus lockdown phase, our attentions turn to the future and how the new normal might begin to look post COVID-19.
Just this week, Twitter has announced it has told staff they can work from home forever if they wish.
The social media giant said its work-from-home measures during the lockdown had been a success, but said it would allow workers to return to the office when it reopens if they choose.
Twitter said: "The past few months have proven we can make that work. So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen."
So, the future remains to be seen - will we all become digital nomads working from home offices or will we crave the social interaction and collaboration the office environment brings?
With social distancing in force, the practicalities of the entire workforce returning to the traditional office are complex.
It is not just the two metre rule - there are shared spaces, toilets, meeting rooms, lifts and reception areas to be considered.
And with stretched cashflow and the threat of recession, the likelihood of companies taking on extra office space to accommodate this is surely minimal.
More likely is that a large proportion of office workers will continue working from home for the foreseeable future - at least until a vaccine can be found.
There has been a noticeable shift in attitude during the lockdown - home working has been tried and tested and old stigmas have started to be broken down.
So as the lockdown lifts, how can the property market and landlords respond to these requirements?
If home working becomes more embedded in our society and businesses find they need less space or require more flexible office space, can landlords find a way to work with their tenants to find mutually agreeable solutions?
Can existing leases be negotiated to be more flexible to reflect the uncertain future, as well as accommodate future requirements?
Some experts have predicted a boom in co-working space as businesses seek to plug the gap between their fixed office space and what they will need to accommodate their employees.
While we all crave a better work-home-life balance, we are social creatures at heart and most of us crave the social and collaborative aspect the office environment brings.
Perhaps the future is a more fluid, flexible approach to working with a mix of home, office and co-working - perhaps the perfect balance we are all looking for at last?
But it will surely be landlords that are flexible and willing to listen and engage with their tenants at the forefront of this new landscape.
As property and planning consultants, Evans Jones advise businesses on all aspects of commercial property. If you are evaluating your business requirements for office and work space in the light of the pandemic, we can advise you through the process - contact us at www.evansjones.co.uk and we will be happy to discuss your situation and future requirements.
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