Hybrid working driving demand for areas with easier commutes

An office cafe to illustrate the new wave of hybrid workingA report from Unispace claims that employees’ new preference for hybrid working has created an immediate need for firms to re-think their real estate footprint. Today, with over 60 percent of office-based employees preferring to work remotely or in a more flexible way, rather than commute to city centres five days a week, employers are considering the greater use or addition of satellite offices to their portfolio. According to the study of 3,000 office workers across Europe, 79 percent of the workforce would be happier to return to the office if it was just five to 10 minutes away from their home, suggesting that satellite offices could be a solution to boost collaboration, socialisation, engagement and staff retention.

The publication – The Real Estate Dilemma: Is now the time to reduce your real estate footprint [registration] – suggests that hybrid working is the preferred arrangement for the majority of office workers, which will clearly impact strategic decisions around where office space is located and how buildings can best be utilised. At the time of the survey, just 26 percent of employees were working full-time in an office, and 13 percent were entirely home-based, with the majority (63 percent), working in a hybrid way. Just 27 percent said they would prefer to be completely office based in the future.

Businesses are certainly responding to the new working styles with the amount of abandoned office space in London now estimated to have reached 20.2 million square feet. However, Unispace’s report claims that abandoning the workplace isn’t the best response, with over half (53 percent) of their sample saying working from home restrictions had made them value the office more and a further 77 percent indicating that it was easier to bond with, and get to know, colleagues in the office.

“The advantages of working collectively shouldn’t be underestimated. In a post-pandemic world, workers are craving the human contact that they may have taken for granted pre-Covid,” says Lawrence Mohiuddine, CEO EMEA at Unispace. “With 79% of employees admitting they would be happier to return to the office if it was just five to 10 minutes from home, creating satellite offices to supplement an amenity-packed HQ could be a logical approach for firms seeking to meet the diverse needs of their people post-pandemic.

“Crucially, firms must look to understand not only the needs of their current employees, but also the composition of their future workforce and their distinct preferences, which we know differ from country to country and by numerous demographics such as life-stage, income and gender. By taking this approach, organisations can effectively optimise short and long-term real estate decisions.”

Image: Unispace