Businesses Now On The Move With Half Of Larger Occupiers Looking To Change Their Office Requirements To Cater For New Ways Of Working
Almost half (43%) of all businesses (and 62% of large businesses) say that recruiting and retaining good staff is one of the biggest threats their organisation faces at the moment as we emerge from the pandemic.
This was one of the key findings from a new YouGov survey commissioned by Irwin Mitchell of over 500 business decision makers. Companies voted that staff issues were more of an important consideration than the longer-term implications from Brexit (35%) or the continuation of the pandemic (36%).
These results correspond with current media coverage about the ‘great resignation’ which suggest that up to a third of UK workers are considering changing jobs this year. Reports indicate that companies which already provide flexibility, by offering hybrid and remote working, are more likely to retain staff than those who don’t.
The survey which canvassed business’ attitudes to their office property needs shows that nearly half (46%) of large businesses and (39%) of medium sized companies plan to move their office space- whether by upsizing, downsizing or relocating. Almost 2/3 (63%) of large occupiers plan to make their move within the year.
While 25% of businesses said the change in their occupational requirements were prompted by a desire to save on occupier costs, a third of businesses said the main drivers for change were to provide greater flexibility in how or where their employees work, to accommodate different working patterns as well as changing space as means to attract and retain staff.
Employers also seem to recognise that the need for an office is not dead, despite the success of home working during the pandemic. Of those surveyed who are planning to change their property requirements - just 6% - plan to have their workforce working from home full time.
And asked to name the two top drivers for having an office, 40% of all businesses (and 54% of large businesses) said they see the office as a collaborative space for exchanging ideas and 40% of all businesses said they feel their staff work better in an office.
This reinforces the view that while the purpose of the office may have shifted, the need for a workplace is still very much alive.
37% of larger companies also see the office an important place to nurture employees in a way that embodies their organisational culture. This includes the importance of mentoring younger or more inexperienced staff with 62% of large businesses and 56% of medium businesses said having the office as a place to nurture and mentor staff was important.
Larger businesses also revealed what their employees want and expect to work in, citing modern, quality space (48%), with great WIFI and technology benefits (44%), have agile/flexible working (43%) and be in an environmentally friendly/healthy building (37%). Good shops and leisure conveniences nearby were not as big a vote winner as might be expected- only 8 % of large businesses said their staff would expect this, perhaps reflecting the move to a more hybrid way of working with employees now shopping and going to the gym nearer to home.
Expert Opinion“This report reveals a fascinating insight into how employment trends are impacting how businesses view their office space. Attracting and retaining staff remains key and changing or improving the office environment to meet new demands and keep employees happy could be a relatively easy win compared to replacing valued talent. Larger companies in particular are seeing how their space can best accommodate new methods of hybrid working as well as providing a place to collaborate, inspire, motivate, train and mentor staff.” Sybille Steiner - Partner
Our survey also found:
- ESG seems to be higher on the agenda for both employers and employees, particularly among the larger employers. Our survey revealed that most businesses do plan to reduce their environmental impact of their office. Only 19% claimed they would make no changes, a figure which fell to 14% for larger corporates and 11% for medium sized companies.
- 37% of large businesses said staff would expect an environmentally friendly/ healthy office. Across all businesses, when asked what the most important factors are to have in a “healthy building”: Fresh air/good ventilation was mentioned by (76%) of those surveyed, Natural light (76%), Space between desks (37%) and Personal space individuals can control (31%).
- The choice of these requirements reflects what employees have become accustomed to when working from home over the last two years. They also reflect the general increased focus on wellness in the workplace.
- Across all businesses, gyms and touch-free technology were down the bottom of the list, with 2% and 2% of the vote respectively.
- 75% of large employers said compliance with the Government’s Disability Strategy was either important or very important when deciding on office space. This fell to 61% for medium sized companies, and 49% for smaller and 32% for micro businesses.
To read the whole report, please see 2022 Office Occupiers Report
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 503 senior decision makers who have a responsibility for office occupancy decisions, 'Facilities/ premises/ health & safety' in private sector businesses (excluding sole traders). Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th January - 9th February 2022. The survey was carried out online.
Business size definitions:
Across all business, N=145 are planning to change property requirements
Large businesses (250 + employees ) N=87
Medium business (50 to 249 employees) N=87
Small businesses (10 to 49 employees) N=143
Micro businesses (less than 10 employees) N=186