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Flexibility is the key to the future of the office

The Covid-19 pandemic has without doubt accelerated a transformation in the way we work in office-based roles. Over the last year, companies across the nation have adapted to online working practices, which has inevitably led to the question, what is the role of the office in the future?

Nick Read, Chief Executive of Vodafone wrote an insightful article in The Times last week, where he articulated that real-time data has transformed their company’s perspective on how they work together, with a realisation that the “office” of their future will be defined by flexibility, productivity, and creativity, rather than location. Their data set has told them that 60% of their employee’s time is spent on individual projects and tasks, where productivity has been enhanced by working remotely. However, the remaining 40% of working time is enhanced when working in person with teams, co-creating and learning. These key activities still require an office space within which to meet. The article concludes that the office will always have a role, but what it looks like in terms of layout, size and location will change.

This echoes the conversation’s Devonshire Partnership are participating in with clients, where an evolution in the development and management of spaces is already underway. We have been appointed by a major investor to project manage the refurbishment of an office space in St Albans, in anticipation of a ‘hub and spoke’ style requirement for office space nearer to places where people live to capitalise on talent, time and cost efficiency.

Furthermore, the revolution in retail with the recent purchases of Debenhams and Arcadia, but crucially with no desire for the portfolio of high street stores, is demanding that property investors are increasingly flexible in planning to re-purpose assets for alternative uses. Devonshire Partnership has been involved with feasibility studies throughout 2020, considering the potential to re-purpose high street assets for office, leisure, and residential uses.

There is no doubt that property owners that buy into change and help lead the development of flexible office spaces, that meet the changing needs of tenants, will position themselves to create opportunity out of adversity.

To discuss how to re-purpose and create flexibility in your assets, to ensure they are fit for the office requirements of the future, please contact the Devonshire Partnership Directors.


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