Opinion piece supplied by Developing Consensus

The past few weeks has seen a huge shift in our collective working patterns, most likely the biggest shift in living memory. With organisations embracing digital solutions and seeking out ways to increase remote working, Adam Serfontein, Chairman of Developing Consensus, discusses how this may affect the occupier market when we eventually return to the new-normal.


The current pandemic is giving organisations the chance to see if remote working is a viable business model that could potentially save on costs and improve workers’ quality of life. According to statistics, over 32 per cent of workers within the North East say they can work from home (YouGov), a percentage which is likely to have increased since the impact of Covid-19.


Although there is currently little data on the subject, it’s expected that more organisations will look to offer flexible working schemes to save on costs, attract talent and also increase the geographical reach of their talent pool. 


Towards the end of last month Barclays’ Chief Executive Jes Staley was quoted revealing that the bank was thinking about it’s long-term ‘location strategy’ and re-evaluating the amount of office space it would need, given that it’s currently being run by staff ‘working from their kitchens.’ 


Whilst this remote working looks like an incredibly favourable cost-saving option for organisations, this in turn could impact the occupier market as companies require less space for their workforce. If every worker from an organisation is entitled to work one day from home a week, that could be a 20 per cent reduction in space requirements alone. 


In addition to space that’s also a reduction in utility costs, business rates, insurance and service charges for the business, a very attractive offer.


However, there is also the thought that organisations, even with reduced staff in the workplace, will still require the same amount of space due to social-distancing measures and to further prevent the spread of viruses in future. It could instead be that our office spaces are redesigned as safe-distance collaborative working spaces with a greater use of tech to remain fully inclusive of the employees that are working from home.


What also must be considered and has been reported on in recent weeks, are the long-term mental implications of home-working. Offices aren’t just a place to work but a chance to potentially escape from home pressures and engage with colleagues and clients. There are also many practical implications also that must be considered, including wi-fi speed, access to equipment, home environment and of course how to track productivity and working hours.


Ultimately what remains critical in this current climate is collaboration and the sharing of best practice among the occupier market. It’s important that we are sharing challenges, revealing findings and communicating solutions so that the sector can continue to grow despite these uncertain times.


That is one of the main reasons that we at Developing Consensus offer a hub for organisations within the North East property and development sectors to further improve and unlock barriers together. We will return to a new-normal and when we do, the region must be ready.