Social distancing has turned our lives upside down and at short notice businesses adapted to remote working, moving office life into the home.
Some are beginning to speculate that this could spell the end of offices, but many people are still hopeful of a return to normality. Home working has benefits for some types of businesses; but, for most, the office still serves a valuable purpose as the heart of an organisation, especially for company culture. In Edinburgh city centre alone, there are still requirements totalling up to 500,000 sq. ft. of office space – while some of these deals have been put on hold, some are still happening and only a few have been shelved altogether since lockdown began.
That said, social distancing measures will likely have a significant impact on the way offices function in the months ahead. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, both landlords and occupiers need to consider how the office environment will evolve, particularly over the long-term with flexibility being key.
Practical measures to promote social distancing
Most offices, and especially open-plan spaces, will likely see a significant shift in the number of people who can work there at one time. Space requirements are usually determined using a ratio that allocates around 100 sq. ft. per person, but in order to ensure workers have the recommended 2 metres of separation, this guideline is already being increased to around 160 sq. ft.
Before any employees return to the office, occupiers and landlords will need to get together and work out the practicalities, ensuring communal areas, meeting rooms and reception spaces have adequate signage and hygiene measures in place.
New working patterns