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Office environment: how is the workplace changing?

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On average, UK citizens spend 90,000 hours of their lives in the office.

It is therefore imperative that the environment landlords provide to their employer-tenants and their tenants’ employees are one that not only allows them to work comfortably, but allows them to maximise their potential.

This article explores the changing landscape of commercial property and how landlords need to adapt their approach to office styling and location to keep up with the times to ensure the longevity of their leases.

Location, location, location?

As more and more people take their buying habits online and lifestyles become increasingly led by online activity, the location of office premises is now a key consideration for many businesses. With less reliability on footfall, a move to a less expensive area gives a great opportunity for businesses to reduce rental costs.

Although costs may be saved on the rent itself, it is important that businesses do not regard this as additional revenue. With staff now facing long hours in front of computers and on the phone, it is crucial that the office environment evolves so that staff motivation and wellbeing are of paramount importance since stress and boredom can still be heard over the telephone as much as it can face-to-face.

It has, however, become apparent that lease lengths are decreasing as businesses are more frequently changing their office locations to either accommodate for growth or due to other circumstances rendering the premises unsuitable. This means that landlords need to review the way they approach leasing properties to ensure that they are building long-term relationships with their tenants, not just placing them in unsuitable premises and reaping as much rental yield as possible in a short period of time.

Adapting to changes such as technological advances and evolving trends in office space planning can also ensure that landlords are able to keep their tenants satisfied with their premises, as they will not have the need to look elsewhere to find more suitable accommodation to keep their workforce happy and engaged.

Does a physical office still have an important role in a digitally-led world?

With the majority of businesses still being very much people-to-people led, the physical office is still often a crucial element. Although increasing numbers of businesses are bringing their products and services online, customers still value human interaction.

Investing in creating inspiring workplaces is a must for commercial landlords as more and more businesses become attuned to the difference a good workplace environment can have on productivity.

Opening up the horizons

Many businesses are now looking into open-plan offices due to the much-publicised use of such spaces by global giants such as Apple and Google but are they always a good idea?

The answer is dependent on the business. Most businesses can reap the benefits of an open plan office environment because they want their staff to bounce ideas off each other. However, if a business is dealing with confidential materials, open plan offices may be an unnecessary risk to operations and it could actually cause more harm than good.

It is always best practice for landlords to evaluate the needs of their tenants and/or prospective tenants to assess whether open-plan environments would work before marching ahead and demolishing all the walls. Although most businesses could benefit from this environment, it may narrow the scope of the types of businesses that can occupy the premises.

What are the next steps for landlords?

We would always recommend asking both your current and prospective tenants what they want or would like to achieve from their working environment. Staying in touch with your tenants’ requirements will help you ensure you are building a long-term working relationship with them, which in turn will save you money in having to repurpose an office were the tenant to withdraw due to the premises being or becoming unsuitable.

You should always consider the nature of the prospective tenant’s business before making radical changes to layouts and working environments because it is never one-size-fits-all when it comes to office environments.

If you would like further advice on investing in Commercial Property and how to adapt properties to encompass the ever-changing needs of businesses or you are an existing landlord who would like advice on how to structure your leases to give optimum flexibility, contact our Commercial Property team on 01332 340 211.

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