Is the workplace consultancy model increasing?
With a surge in remote working following the pandemic, the landscape of office life has now drastically changed and the way people utilise offices is undergoing the biggest transformation in generations, resulting in a growth of workplace consultancy models.
The expeditious changing role of offices in professional working life has resulted in firms rethinking their office model and has caused many tenants to either repurpose existing spaces, seek alternatives or even break leases with landlords.
Responding to a rapidly changing role of offices in professional life, North West based property experts Landwood Group have launched a Workplace Solutions Consultancy.
It comes as the rise of working remotely has radically reshaped what today’s occupiers require from workplaces, with many finding they now have to repurpose existing space or seek alternative accommodation.
This can be seen with market trends indicating more tenants are seeking to activate break clauses in their leases with landlords while landlords themselves are having to rethink their offering in response to more agile working behaviours.
Landwood’s Workplace Solutions Consultancy has been established to provide occupiers and commercial landlords with a one-stop shop for director-led commercial advice on all aspects of landlord and tenant matters, workplace design and project management of associated fit out work.
Chris Mann, Landwood’s Project and Building Consultancy Division Director comments:
“……For many businesses, the pandemic has forced the majority of staff to deliver at least part of their work remotely. We expect this trend will lead to permanent hybrid working patterns with a mix of office and remote based working.
“As a result we are already seeing offices being utilised on a much more flexible basis. Teams are using them as space to collaborate and companies are relying on their office space to provide a social function for employees.
“Each business will have their own strategy, but we are finding that many are looking to down-size their footprint to save on large overhead costs, while landlords are having to really focus on the value their spaces can add to their occupiers to better meet these needs.
“Our Workplace Solutions Consultancy provides expert advice for occupiers evaluating their office requirements. We look deeper than the fit out and space utilisation to include data such as future dilapidations and service charge liabilities. This enables us to provide our clients with an accurate total cost when they are reviewing their real estate strategies.
“For landlords, meanwhile, we have a deep understanding of the latest trends, innovation and technology – enabling clients to better utilise their assets in this swiftly changing environment.”
Jonathan Ritson, started a consultancy workplace model himself and worked with Setfords. Today’s Conveyancer asked Jonathan why he took the consultancy model plunge, what are the employee benefits, whether he came across any challenges/obstacles and what his views are on it leading to a permanent hybrid workplace. He said:
“…Gives me total flexibility in the amount of work I do and when I do it. I am self employed so have all the benefits that go with that. I have a great work/life balance and can take time out whenever I need to. Learning new systems and procedures was initially a challenge and trying to regenerate my client base.
“I cannot see any need for what I do to be office based. The technology I have available via Setfords, combined with Zoom/Microsoft Teams enables me to work more effectively. Clients prefer the online meetings as they can do them on their ‘phones or at home in their lunch time breaks or in the evenings.”
Today’s Conveyancer also approached The Law Society for their comments in relation to the workplace consultancy model. Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said:
“The pandemic meant that law firms, like other businesses, were required to adjust quickly and adopt new working practices including working from home.
“Changes which were already under way, such as the adoption of technological solutions, have been accelerated.
“Firms are now considering different approaches to the workplace, with many adopting hybrid models – mixing office and remote working – amid a welcome shift in understanding of flexible working requests.
“Feedback indicates there are some areas where it is of benefit to be there in person and others where it is not of such key importance. Organisations need to consider their working arrangements to ensure these are managed appropriately. As always, communication is key and organisations should not make assumptions. For example, remote working was previously the most requested (and refused) reasonable adjustment by disabled people, but unless practices and technology are adapted to individual requirements such working can actually exclude.
“There have also been some issues around wellbeing and presenteeism, or blurring of lines between work and home, raised during the past year and employers need to have appropriate policies in place to check in on staff and ensure that undue pressure is not being placed on them to be available 24/7.
“There are benefits to being in the office – for example for junior staff working with senior colleagues is a great way to learn skills and experience new areas – but there are also many ways in which technology can be used to keep in touch and manage work remotely.”
Meanwhile, the Law Society of England and Wales have released new guidance on how to supervise and support junior staff and trainees via hybrid and flexible working models as firms and organisations look to return to the office.
Law Society President I. Stephanie Boyce said:
……..“It’s clear the pandemic has changed the way we view work. We want to guide our members on how to ensure their junior staff are being supported in the best possible way…..This guidance is aimed at firms and organisations which are considering flexible or hybrid working arrangements once everyone is allowed to return to the office.”
With many Britons experiencing an improved work/life balance during the pandemic there have been mixed feelings about returning to ‘business as usual’.
Remote working would have been seen to be detrimental to productivity before the pandemic but now, with the possibility of high-speed internet and video conferencing, many people enjoy working from home, resulting in many professionals expecting forward-thinking workplaces that allow for flexibility.
Research has also shown that remote working will give homebuyers greater confidence to make a move, as public become more comfortable with working from home.
Leading housebuilder Barratt Homes, together with research partner GoodMore Global Ltd, has looked into the new attitudes to working from home and its impact on the housing sector; noting increased expectations of working from home in the South East.
The new research has revealed that a third of those expecting to work from home three or more days a week declare themselves more likely to move house than before the pandemic. The research also suggests that those who think they will be able to work between three and five days from home will now be prepared to move as much as an hour away from their workplace.
Key research findings, from 750 participants across London and the South East are:
• 37% of people expect to be regularly working from home moving forward
• 18-34 year olds are most likely to work from home in the future, with four in ten expecting to be working from home three days a week or more (21% envisaging they will be working from home three days a week, 5% four days and 15% five days)
• Unsurprisingly, those who think they’ll work from home more are most likely to be looking to move home; a third of those expecting to work from home three or more days a week declare themselves more likely to move house than before the pandemic
• Those who think they’ll be working from home most are happiest to compromise a longer commute for more space (21% of three days a week homeworkers agree, rising to 25% of 5 days a week homeworkers)
• Those working from home more than three days a week are more prepared to move as much as an extra hour away from their workplace.
Lynnette St-Quintin, Sales and Marketing Director for Barratt Southern Counties, comments:
“Lockdown has clearly been a massive change for most companies with the decanting of offices in towns and cities as people increasingly work remotely. This is changing people’s views on how and where they want to live by not being tied to their office
“With a further announcement calling for people to work from home where possible, we will likely see this continue with the knock-on repercussions in the housing market. Those who’ve been on the fence about leaving a big town or city may take this second announcement as the push they need to make their move.