A recent survey by estate agency Knight Frank asked what UK businesses want from a post-Covid office. The results give a broader context and support to what we at Procol have been saying – and doing – for some time.

Knight Frank’s survey revealed six ways in which businesses are reassessing their needs regarding office space, and how they think workplaces can and should change.

And with 81% of UK businesses agreeing they need to implement a new workplace strategy, at least some of these changes are likely to be relevant to most businesses.

1. An emphasis on collaboration

Over half of the businesses surveyed said they wanted their offices to have more collaboration space. Being able to collaborate with colleagues was also a key reason for people who were forced to work from home during lockdown wanting to return to the office.

When our clients started asking us about this during the first lockdown last year, we developed a range of ideas for Covid-safe meeting zones for informal or less-confidential discussions, and smart, hygienic, cleverly ventilated meeting hubs for more-private sessions. Understandably, such spaces have proved very popular.

2. More flexible office space

47% of UK businesses said they planned to include a greater amount of flexible, serviced or coworking space.

One of our recent projects ties these first two points together. We have been refurbishing a floor of a client’s premises, taking desks from 70 occupants down to 40, increasing the flexible collaborative-working spaces, and introducing an online booking system.

3. A focus on design, specification and quality

Two thirds of businesses are anticipating a greater focus on the design and specification of their offices.

While a gut reaction to this might be one of surprise (surely post-Covid budgets are tight, and the focus would be on economy, not quality) this actually makes sound business sense.

If companies want or need their employees to return to the office after a long period of working from home, they need to provide facilities and an environment that is better than someone’s setup home. After 18 months of creating a comfortable workspace at home, people need more than a plain old desk and filing cabinet to make the commute feel worthwhile!

Investment in design and specification also makes employees feel more valued and – importantly – more productive.

4. The rise of wellbeing

74% of respondents said they now place more focus on wellbeing in the workplace.

Knight Frank label this as the rise of wellbeing, but regular readers of our articles will know that it’s a topic we have covered many times over the years.

This short article from January 2018 is a good example and now seems strangely prescient.

5. Health and safety first

Given point 4, it’s perhaps unsurpriseing that 74% of the UK businesses surveyed also said they would be placing a greater focus on workplace health and safety.

A wide number of innovative ways beyond the obvious hand-sanitiser stations and sneeze screens can be found in the popular presentation we created last year on creating a post-Covid office.

If you’ve not seen it yet, we’ve a summary page on our website and will be happy to supply you with a copy.

6. Working closer to home

Around half of the UK businesses surveyed by Knight Frank are looking at how employees can work closer to home. And 21% said they will look at operating offices closer to where people live.

One of our clients has implemented a workstation booking system across their estate of office locations. This enables employees to book a space (from a desk through to a meeting area) anywhere within the estate, such as an office nearer to home than the one they were commuting to previously.

Conclusion

Adding all of these points together, the message is clear. The office still has an incredibly important role to play – but a somewhat different one to in the past.

Knight Frank note that when businesses search for their next office space, they’ll have a new set of demands.

We say that is very true. However those demands apply not only to businesses on the move, but also to those staying put.

So, whatever your business’s situation and plans for your office environment, we’re here to offer professional, objective insight and experienced, practical help.

For professional advice on the design or refurbishment of an office ready for post-Covid working call 01225 701701 or email enquiries@procol.co.uk.

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