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Neil Franklin is Insight's news editor

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Demand for office space outside London could soar, claims KPMG report

Demand for office space outside London could soar, claims KPMG report

New ways of working will boost UK productivity and increase employment levels in cities outside of London, according to a new report from KPMG. And as businesses in some sectors prepare for employees to spend two to three days a week working from home on a permanent basis, demand for office space could see capacity potentially increase by as much as 40 percent, according to a new KPMG report, New working patterns and the transformation of UK business landscape.

The increased availability of office space in major business hubs is expected to attract businesses from smaller areas to fill up the vacant space, with cities like Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham set to see employment rise by 5-10 percent as a result. This will have a significant knock on effect for demand for office space.

Areas in central London are also expected to benefit, as well as smaller towns and cities with a large proportion of the workforce working partially from home. Meanwhile, less dense business areas could see a decline in employment and may need to be transformed into more residential, leisure, retail and other uses.

As the business landscape consolidates, KPMG analysis also claims the change could boost overall UK labour productivity by 0.5 percent, thanks to businesses being able to tap into a larger pool of workers, suppliers, and clients.

Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG UK, commented on the report: “As we emerge from the pandemic, businesses need to adapt to the new environment they will be facing. Some may choose to relocate to larger business hubs to boost profitability, while others in less central areas could see their local customer base profile change. While the overall impact on the UK economy is expected to be positive, the changes ahead could prove challenging for those businesses already saddled by the pandemic.”

The report examines how local high streets in residential towns and neighbourhoods are expected to reap the benefits of greater homeworking through increased demand by residents during the week. But the impact on high streets across the UK is unlikely to be uniform. Some places may be hit relatively hard by the loss of office workers due to their proximity to a larger business hub, which may be compounded by the loss of commuter footfall among remaining employees due to the prevalence of working from home.

Yael Selfin added: “As people spend more time working from home and less time in the office, we could see a revival of the local high street.

“They will need to transform into places of purpose to meet demand for community-based services, hospitality, culture, as well as retail. High street offering in smaller towns and cities may need to become more focused on residents’ needs and less focused on businesses and commuters.

“This transformation will require local government, residents and businesses to work together to map their future shape and make concrete plans to support and enable the necessary changes to make the most of the new post-Covid business reality.”

Chris Hearld, Head of Regions at KPMG UK, commented: “Over time, a shift in business location could support the rise of several major business hubs across the UK. An increase in the concentration of businesses and workers has the potential to make those businesses located there more productive and enable these areas to serve as the engines of economic growth. This should also support the Government’s Levelling Up agenda. Cities like Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, and Newcastle stand to benefit from such a consolidation of business locations. For this to happen they will need government to work closely with local leaders to ensure the transition is smooth and any barriers to growth are quickly ironed out.”

Landlords and occupiers must work together to meet climate change challenge

Landlords and occupiers must work together to meet climate change challenge

flexible work and climate changeDisruption, cost, building style, individual goals, responsibility and shared space are cited as the key sustainability challenges for the flexible office sector, according to the latest research report from The Instant Group. But while there is still a lot of work to be done in the sector as the role of the workplace evolves, Instant says that flex operators have an opportunity to lead the way in meeting the challenge of climate change. By creating innovative, low-carbon buildings, curating a clear engagement strategy with occupiers and landlords, and ensuring a low-carbon ambition is understood and adopted by everyone, flex operators can be the first to implement highly sustainable workplaces. More →

Climate change action highlighted by coalition ahead of Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26

Climate change action highlighted by coalition ahead of Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26

climate change actionFollowing the sobering message from the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, a coalition led by C40, the Global Alliance for Building and Construction (GlobalABC), The Resilience Shift, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) announce #BuildingToCOP26 — a partnership to promote radical collaboration for climate change action ahead of the Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26. More →

Uncertainty remains, but many people looking forward to meeting colleagues again

Uncertainty remains, but many people looking forward to meeting colleagues again

As businesses in the UK prepare to open their office doors en masse in the first week of September, new research reveals that office workers have got that back-to-school excitement and are feeling largely positive about the transition. Recruitment firm Michael Page questioned over 2,000 UK office workers on their attitudes to returning to the office and found that after eighteen months at home, around half claim to be ‘excited’ or ‘happy’ to spend more time in the office with their colleagues. Reminiscent of the first day back at school, almost three in ten (28 percent) said that they had picked out their outfit and packed their bag ahead of their first day back in the office. More →

Business confidence back to pre-pandemic levels, with fewer plans to shrink offices

Business confidence back to pre-pandemic levels, with fewer plans to shrink offices

CEOs of the world’s largest businesses are increasingly optimistic about the outlook for their own business, according to the latest KPMG CEO Outlook Survey. Despite a slower ‘return to normal’ than expected, their confidence in the global economy has returned to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic. The number planning to reduce their office footprints has fallen dramatically since the height of the pandemic, and instead there is a growing focus on introducing flexible working cultures. More →

Security and productivity main challenges for hybrid working

Security and productivity main challenges for hybrid working

hybrid working at homeWith a large number of firms now prepared to embrace a ‘hybrid working’ model, business leaders remain uncertain about how this may play out in practice according to a new report from Entrust called Securing the New Hybrid Workplace (registration). Respondents suggest that the most important challenges relate to the ongoing uncertainty about new Covid variants and the effect of hybrid working on security and productivity. As a result, while many are committed to changing their work culture, they are prepared to adapt their plans in response to any changing needs. More →

UK workers expect to be oldest retirees in Europe

UK workers expect to be oldest retirees in Europe

UK workers have the oldest expected retirement age out of five European countries, according to new research from HR software provider SD Worx. When compared to other countries in Europe, the UK is at the top of the list for oldest expected retirement age, with people now expecting to retire at an average age of 66.67 years old. This is followed by: The Netherlands (65.94 years old); Belgium (65.33 years old); Germany (64.48 years old); and France (64.36 years old). More →

Working from home could help older workers stay in work longer

Working from home could help older workers stay in work longer

working from home setupOlder workers might choose to delay their retirement if offered the option of continuing to do their jobs working from home after the pandemic, according to new research from the UK’s Office for National Statistics. The ONS study found those in their 50s and 60s who worked from home during the coronavirus crisis said they were planning to retire later than those who were still travelling to their workplace. More →

Executives think work should be split 70:30 between office and home

Executives think work should be split 70:30 between office and home

A new survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit backs up the most commonly cited form of ‘hybrid working’ by claiming that business executives on average think work should be split 70 percent / 30 percent between the office and home respectively.  In A changed workplace after covid-19, published  by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Kyocera Document Solutions, the authors argue that Covid-19 was a watershed moment in the way we work. More →

Return to office doesn’t mean occupiers have lost sight of flexibility, claims report

Return to office doesn’t mean occupiers have lost sight of flexibility, claims report

return to office is underway

Offices will repopulate over the remainder of this year, led by small companies – those with fewer than 100 employees, according to the EMEA Occupier Survey of 130 companies from real estate advisor CBRE. The survey found that small companies are further advanced in their return to office. Over 80 percent of small companies report all locations are now open. This compares with only a third of the largest companies, although a majority of them have opened more than half of their sites. More →

Right to disconnect should be enshrined in law, says report

Right to disconnect should be enshrined in law, says report

right to disconnectAn overtime “epidemic” driven by the rise in home working during the pandemic must be curtailed with new right to disconnect laws, according to a report from think-tank Autonomy. The authors claim that unpaid labour is a growing problem in the UK, exacerbated by home working during the pandemic. They say employees are frequently contacted by their employers after the working day has finished officially to complete tasks, which impacts their mental health. The report proposes draft legislation to implement a ‘right to disconnect’ based on French law, which ensures respect for employee rest periods and allows them to ignore work calls and emails outside of working hours. More →

Working culture for half of employees has deteriorated during the pandemic

Working culture for half of employees has deteriorated during the pandemic

working cultureNearly half (42 percent) of employees think the working culture of their organisation has deteriorated during the pandemic. That’s according to research by StaffCircle, which surveyed employees and HR leaders to determine the impact of the pandemic on company culture, engagement and communication. The survey identified the three Cs of COVID – culture, communication and churn – as the key challenges for businesses, with 42 percent of HR leaders saying that churn has increased since the ease of restrictions, and 30 percent of employees more likely to leave jobs post-pandemic. More →

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