The office is back but we need to adapt to changing requirements
New report by flexible office provider Orega reveals future of work

• 53% of office workers plan to work in the office AND remotely from home
• 81% still want to work in an office
• Only 17% plan to work from home every day
• 58% don’t want to downsize their office and 62% want to retain and increase their space
• More than two thirds of businesses (67%) are optimistic about their prospects for the next 12 months.
• 42% are now interested in flex space
• And 37% of office workers want self-serve barista-style coffee

Brits have chosen to go back to the office but now flexibility is more important than ever, according to the most comprehensive study of UK office workers and business leaders since lockdown restrictions lifted.

It had been predicted that WFH would become the new norm with businesses like Spotify and Twitter saying staff didn’t need to return to the office and HSBC proposing to cut its office space by 40%.

But Survation polls of 2,000 office workers and 500 business leaders, commissioned by Orega, UK’s No.1 provider of flexible workspace under management agreements, found the office life is returning:

• Just 26% of businesses plan to move to a smaller offer with 56% predicting they’ll retain the office they have.
• 53% of office workers plan to do a mixture of working in the office and from home. Before the pandemic, only 20% did this hybrid work mode. 48% of business leaders say their firms are working hybrid.
• This move to hybrid has led to the emergence of TWTs – people choosing to be in the office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
• However office workers still want their own desk – they are not enthusiastic about hot desking
• Only 17% of office workers will work from home every day. 18% of business leaders would prefer their employees WFH.
• And 37% of office workers want self-serve barista-style coffee! Orega is rolling out automatic coffee machines where you can order your latte via Siri and an app.

The effect of working from home did have an effect on a third of firms, with 31% experiencing a negative impact on productivity.

The survey, which will be launched at Property Week’s Property Finance and Investment Forum on Thursday June 3, reveals why employees wanted to get back to the office.

• 67% said it was an important place to collaborate and communicate
• 55% said it was a social hub and they needed it to access technology and files
• 54% it provided focus and improved productivity
• 48% said it was important for career development and training, though this rose to 57% for 18–34-year-olds but only 34% for 55-64s.
• And 65% wanted to have their own office desk even if they work two or three days there with only 29% happy to hotdesk.

And the things they most want in their office are:

• Quiet spaces to escape interruptions and get work done (58%)
• More privacy in the office (53%)
• Better provision of fresh air (52%
• Self-serve barista-style coffee (37%)

Other effects of working from home during lockdown include:

• 31% said their mental health had declined
• One in four (24%) saw their personal finances worsen

Looking to the future of the office:

• 78% of businesses and 81% of employees want to keep working in an office
• 58% of businesses currently don’t want to downsize office space.
• When the office lease ends, a total of 62% either want to retain the office space as it is or look to increase.
• 49% are considering changing their leasing model and 53% are interested in serviced offices.
• 67% of businesses said the office was important for career development and training.
• And 80% said it was vital for the company to collaborate and communicate.

Zach Douglas, CEO and founder of Orega, who commissioned the survey, said:
“It appears reports of the office’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Brits have chosen to go back to the office but on their own terms and businesses are accepting it. It seems the hybrid model working mostly in the office and then remotely from home is here to stay.
“They’ve clearly seen the benefits of working remotely but have craved the social hub and the place to focus and develop their career that the office provides. Interestingly what we’re seeing in this new hybrid world is the rise of the TWTs.

“If 2020 was about WFH or working from home, 2021 is seeing the emergence of the TWTs – people choosing to be in the office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“After working from home for a year, they want the best of both worlds. That’s why they’d like more space and privacy at work to focus and concentrate and don’t want to hotdesk. Orega offers concierge-style service with professionally trained staff and generous communal spaces and more desk space per person than most of our competitors. We’ve even installed barista style automatic coffee machines where you can order your latte by Siri or app.

“It’s great the office come back as it will provide a massive boost to the surrounding hospitality and retail sector to breathe life back into local trade and the economy.”

Mr Douglas also has advice for landlords of office buildings and investors who were concerned about the future of the office:

He said: “My message to landlords and investors is simple. There are great opportunities if you acknowledge the changing landscape.

“Firstly, we’ve found landlords and investors are increasingly considering management agreements with flexible workspace providers over a traditional lease.

“Management agreements are a partnership not a one-off real estate transaction like leaseholds. So landlords and investors have a greater say over how their assets are used and the return is more stable and profitable over the long term. You also don’t lose control of the flex space provision within your asset as you would under a leasehold.

“Secondly, in a competitive office space market, greater hospitality is key. Our research shows office workers want more desk space, more quiet areas to work and a level of service that’s more like a hospitality, hotel style concierge services rather than a traditional serviced office.

“Greater hospitality not only keeps clients happy it increases workspace retention and expansion. Help them be happy and productive and they’ll grow.

“Thirdly, the hybrid model is here to stay but the office is back. The office will still be the hub for businesses, and we all need to be responsive to the new work patterns, with many choosing to come to the office three days a week and work remotely the rest of the time.

“So that means best in class meeting spaces and Enterprise grade internet provision to enable staff to work remotely and feel engaged with the office.”

Zach will unveil the survey findings during his speech to Property Week’s Property Finance and Investment Forum on ‘the rise, fall and uncertainty of traditional real estate assets’ on June 3.