A business centre in Southampton is receiving a surge of workspace enquiries amid a growing appetite for a return to office ‘normality’.
With data showing that offices in the UK are now half full for the first time since the start of the pandemic, Ocean Village Innovation Centre (OVIC) is experiencing new demand. The 30,000 sq ft building, with 67 flexible office spaces and meeting rooms, is operated by Oxford Innovation, which runs 26 innovation centres across the UK.
"Enquiries are up 50%," said OVIC’s centre manager, Stephen Deller, "along with two new signings and four firms expanding on site." Deller added: “Confidence is clearly returning to the economy and, as a result, we now have 45 occupiers at OVIC, including virtual customers utilising OVIC as their business address.
“We are hearing of workers wanting to return to some form of office normality, having spent up to 15 months working from home, and our enquiries resonate with that. The national commercial property media reported that offices in the UK are now half full since Covid-19 led to the first lockdown in March 2020, and this trend ties in with the demand we are seeing. We are Covid-19 secure and well suited to the new mix of hybrid working.”
Latest companies to move in are Evolve Block & Estate Management, specialising in residential block and estate management in the south, and Biz Trading, which procures global quality products for customers, including from the Far East.
Due to expansion, four occupiers have expanded at OVIC over the past two months. They are digital marketing agency Mitchell & Stones, Sell Stuff Today, an electronics and IT equipment firm, software developer Netshell and RFEL, which provides cutting-edge signal and video processing solutions to the defence, homeland security and communications markets.
Other occupiers include Krysteline Technologies, which specialises in glass recycling systems and is the only recycling equipment company in the world active on all five continents, the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which is using OVIC to train international nurses, and DFS Composites, a contractor to the global wind turbine industry.
Deller said: “Enquiries are from all different kinds of industries, such as marine, engineering, medical, recruitment and digital marketing. They are adding to an already diverse mix of companies here at OVIC, many with an international outlook.
“Key drivers for occupation include the marina location, access to London Waterloo from the mainline train station, closeness to the regional airport, complimentary business support and the flexibility of licence agreements.”