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Attractive office space: the key to boosting productivity?

Companies are increasingly allowing their employees the freedom to decide when and how they work which generally results in a happier more productive workforce. Whilst for some this means more 'working from home' or working in other more informal and sometimes public spaces, for others the preference for a shared office space remains.

A workplace environment has a tremendous impact on productivity. To focus and work efficiently employees need to feel comfortable, healthy, inspired and undisturbed. Surveys have found that professionals have their best ideas when working in flexible spaces. Companies such as Google, Red Bull and WeWork have embraced this idea of creating innovative office designs with value placed on fun, social spaces that allow for quick collaborative meetings. Organisations that are more traditional in outlook are now working with, and learning from these innovators to revamp and significantly change the way their offices are set up. This re-evaluation of the way in which they use their existing space comes at a time where, with general uncertainty in the markets, firms are being forced to utilise available space more efficiently as well as pursue all possible avenues to boost productivity in the workforce.

Large banks of allocated desks take up vast areas of office space. With a rise in the numbers working from home and generally working more flexibly, these areas can at times feel bereft and deserted. A more creative use of space can assist with a reduction in the total area required by an organisation to house its workforce. Occupiers can take advantage of this optimisation of space and eventually look to divest themselves of redundant areas. Whilst for occupiers who have signed short term leases or leases containing regular tenant break options this may not prove too much of an issue, for those with longer term interests it can leave them stuck with underutilised, expensive space. Negotiating with landlords or subletting may be the only way forward.

Flexibility should be a key focus for an office tenant negotiating a new lease. Shorter or more flexible leases allow for growth, movement and any subsequent shrinkage required, whilst well negotiated wording can create opportunities for sub-letting and sharing of occupation. Whilst some landlords may find the prospect of this flexibility unpalatable, others may reap the benefits of higher rents that can be charged in return.

Most landlords permit internal alterations to be undertaken without consent or with the minimum of consent. Assuming the building is not listed then any fit out works can usually be undertaken and layouts altered relatively easily to suit changing tenant requirements. Concerns for the landlords generally centre around tenant relations and they will want to ensure that any works undertaken by one tenant do not detrimentally impact upon any of the other building occupiers. Energy performance may also be a concern in light of the latest set of MEES regulations and a landlord may look to ensure that the EPC rating for the building does not drop in light of tenant alterations.

The majority of businesses still value face to face time and as such the physical office remains a crucial element to ensure growth and success. Whilst the latest trends for casual open plan style offices will not suit everyone, in order to keep up with the competition it seems to be becoming more essential to create places where people feel inspired and enjoy coming to every day.

The mission at WeWork is to create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living. The influence they and others in the so called 'Proptech' industry are having seems set to change the way we work and the environments within which we operate for good, something which those of us who spend hours absorbed by a computer screen can only welcome.

This article was published on 29 October 2019. Learn more about our Real Estate services.

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