Occupied office space in London on the rise despite WFH trend
With WFH guidance in place until June at the earliest, the office is set to bounce back. Businesses are expected to occupy an additional 13m sq ft of space in the capital over the next five years, despite some businesses axing office space or allowing employees to WFH for the foreseeable future.
Despite some companies exploring a hybrid working model, property agent CBRE is confident that the equivalent of 10 Shards worth of space will be occupied as the path out of lockdown becomes clear. This comes in the wake of the Capita announcement that call centre workers could continue to work from home the majority of the time. Chief executive Jon Lewis said a recent internal survey had shown that 72% of workers would prefer a WFH option three days a week.
Health and wellbeing
Even if worker buy-in to the return to the office remains low, CBRE predicts that businesses will still need to occupy additional space to maintain social distancing. With issues around health and wellbeing increasingly under the spotlight, workers are unlikely to appreciate a return to the office where they’re expected to sit in close proximity to their colleagues.
Richard Smart, London managing director at CBRE pointed out that the London office market has shown sustained growth for several decades and predicts a strong economic bounceback.
Increasing confidence in the market saw the City of London Corporation green light a new 33-storey office development at 70 Gracechurch Street. Developer Tenacity was granted planning approval for 775,000 sq ft of mixed space to include retail and flexible office space. In addition the development will include pedestrian access to Leadenhall Market, cycling parking spaces and gardens overlooking the capital.
Chief executive Patrick Wong said Tenacity believed demand for high quality office space that is technologically innovative and embraces the latest sustainability standards would remain strong after the end of lockdown. He pointed out the need to rethink office space to meet that demand, with the pandemic emphasising the need for collaborative workspaces to encourage creativity and innovation.
Tenacity were granted planning for another office-led development at 55 Gracechurch Street last month. This project will also feature cycle parking spaces and free to access ‘hanging garden’ providing views over London.
Chair of the planning and transportation committee at the City of London Corporation, Alistair Moss, praised the project as an energy efficient and sustainable piece of prime London floorspace designed to attract workers back to the capital after the pandemic.
Moss praised the dynamic silhouette of the proposed development and the way it showcased measures to promote health and wellbeing. Similar developments will be critical after lockdown eases to attract talent back to the heart of London.
For their part, Tenacity is saying that predictions of the end of the office era are premature. Like the City of London Corporation they remain positive about the future of the City one year on from the start of the coronavirus crisis.