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Businesses throughout the UK are facing a conundrum with the end of lockdown in sight

What to do with commercial premises which were designed before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic?

For many employees working from home would have seemed a dream before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. It has now become the norm, with the consequent worries about who will be working in large commercial properties in future.

During lockdown time many of us have made the usual working from home mistakes, the dog appearing on Zoom, the indiscrete poster on the wall, forgot to switch on the microphone etc etc.

But a survey by digital workplace coaching firm Ezra has revealed that employees would be willing to sacrifice promotion, pay rises and company benefits like a car and healthcare to be able to continue working from home.

However, workers say they are missing their colleagues, with many feeling disconnected’ from their colleagues and many saying it’s having a negative impact on how they view their job.

Now the genie’s out the bottle, it’s going to be very hard for businesses to entice their staff to work in stuffy old offices and the big employers are already thinking about making their working environments within commercial properties more people friendly.

A good example is a firm that has prospered during the lockdown is the Very Group, one of Merseyside’s biggest employers and a firm that has experienced strong revenue growth despite Covid, has totally transformed its campus HQ ahead of the return to offices.

The £2bn retailer is setting its sights on a new, permanent hybrid working model. Renovations include an open plan environment with break-out and collaboration spaces, as well as hot desks allowing colleagues to work anywhere on site, and green spaces to accommodate the new world of work.

That’s as well as hotdesks, green spaces, a conference centre, juice bar, relaxation zone and gym.

Surveyors across the country say that employers with commercial premises believe flexible workspaces and office designs that are smart ‘technology-centred’ with good commuting links, will all be key factors to working the future.

They see the office as an essential part of business life, the way we may operate from the business may change, the size of building may change – say, upward or, the requirement for better quality of space for many businesses will increase, but there will still be a need.

Sleep pods popularised by tech giants Google, Facebook and Samsung, live music and yoga could become a more common sight common across commercial properties.

People don’t just want a binary office space, they want so much more than just having a desk.

Tom Roberts, who is head of strategic investment at L&G Investment Management Real Assets, believes the UK office market has a future with a new blended approach to working.

“For example, there will be far more breakout and collaboration space in L&G’s new Cardiff HQ at the Interchange scheme than the existing facilities in the city in recognition of the way people collaborate and the way they work is changing.”

We’ve learned to rely increasingly on things like Facetime to maintain close relationships with friends and family.

As virtual technology gets better, and the user experience evolves and matures, it will change the way we think about work, particularly when we work and where.

Increasingly, it seems the future will mean working in an office if necessary, but not necessarily all the time.

However it pans out in the future, a year on from the start of the pandemic, things may never be the same again.

For help and advice on matters relating to commercial property, contact our expert team today.

Mander Hadley

Mander Hadley Solicitors is not only a long established firm, but is vibrant and successful, with a forward thinking approach.