BizSpace, the UK’s largest provider of regional flexible workspace, is anticipating a boost for the regional economy around its Basingstoke, Christchurch, Dorking, Egham, Fareham and Maidstone sites as more companies look for office space away from city centres following the Covid-19 pandemic.
BizSpace has seen a spike in interest in space at its 105 centres across the UK, which are principally in non-city-centre locations with on-site parking and cycling facilities. In June, it recorded 26% more enquiries than its pre-lockdown average, with sales 36% higher. June was also the firm’s best month ever in terms of unique visitors to, and sales via, its website.
The company, which has traditionally provided space for start-ups and smaller businesses, has launched a new arm that will look to partner with larger firms to help them transfer to a hub-and-spoke, or multi-site, model. It is looking to engage with companies looking for temporary overflow space, offices their staff can reach without using public transport, or longer-term arrangements that give employees access to local workspaces so they can work in a professional and collaborative environment near home, rather than from home.
Its new offer comes as companies reconsider their property strategies following the Covid-19 pandemic and look for safe ways to bring employees back to the office in the short term, and ways to offer increased flexibility to staff longer term.
Gareth Evans, BizSpace’s CEO, said: “As we start to come out of the pandemic, the sense we’re getting is that people don’t just want to go back to how things were before. Working from home has had its challenges and they miss the collaborative element of the office, but they’ve enjoyed the increased flexibility, want to carry on seeing their families more, and don’t want to lose an hour or more commuting every day. This new part of our business responds to significant current demand and will see us work with larger firms to put together packages that meet their specific needs. We’re already working with several companies who are looking to have a smaller central hub, where people might work when they have meetings, combined with the opportunity to work from a range of local workspaces the rest of the time.”
Research by Engaging Works found that almost two thirds of employees would prefer a split between remote working and time spent in the office once lockdown ends. [i]
As occupiers reassess their property strategies, Knight Frank estimates that £1 billion of the £4b of deals under offer across London have been withdrawn since lockdown began, with a further £500 million paused. [ii]
Analysts at Moody’s have also predicted a drop in demand for office space in cities, forecasting that tenants will want more flexible workspace and that demand for physical space in urban areas is likely to decline. [iii]