Originally published in April 2021.
Needless to say, covid-19 has caused significant dislocations in all aspects of our daily lives. One of these has been a major shift in working practices. Almost overnight, those of us who were primarily office-based were forced to uproot and adapt to the realities of home-working, with all the distractions and comforts that come with it.
The initial argument that the pandemic would spell the end for the office seems to have subsided. There is now a general consensus that a balanced approach to working should prevail, leading to a hybrid model split between home and office. For many, the frustrations around a lack of social contact, growing digital fatigue and the inability to effectively collaborate will probably ensure that there is significant appetite to return to an office environment – even if only for a few days a week.
The question that employers, and the property industry, must now answer is how office space should be recalibrated in order to stay relevant post pandemic. This means not only providing the right kind of space to support the sorts of interactions that cannot happen remotely, but also ensuring a safe environment for employees that is appealing enough to lure them away from the comfort of their homes.
Health and safety will be paramount
Health and safety will be the primary concern for occupiers and their employees. Landlords will need to demonstrate that they have taken, and will continue to take, every precaution in preventing the spread of the virus before they can encourage staff back in larger numbers.