Demand sees surge in office refurbs

Post pandemic hybrid working is having an impact. According to a recent article in Property Week, London’s supply of flexible office space has surged by 26% in Q2, because the way we work has irreversibly changed.

Hybrid working has been on the rise since the turn of the century and even prior to the pandemic JLL expected 30% of London’s office space to be ‘flexible’ by 2030, however, it is Covid that has permanently changed the way we work, resulting in a surge in demand for flexible workspace globally. This is helping to generate the largest increase in the refurbishment of office buildings since 2020, as demand from workers shifts to the highest quality and flexible spaces and embracing of new working practices.

Comments Geraint Evans, Managing Director of Office Network Global, “Changes to employee rights in the UK will only increase the migration to flexible working when the Flexible Working Bill achieves Royal Assent later this year. The Bill enables employees to request flexible working changes to their job role even before they start work, with each request having to be considered and only dismissed with good reason. Recent CIPD research shows that 6 percent of employees changed jobs last year specifically due to a lack of flexible options and 12 percent left their profession altogether due to a lack of flexibility within the sector. This represents almost 2 and 4 million workers respectively and will undoubtedly result in further alterations and refurbishments as business leaders and landlords strive to accommodate accordingly.”

The Summer 2023 London Office Crane Survey carried out by Deloitte found that the number of office refurbishments across the capital hit a record high in the period between October 2022 and March 2023.

Margaret Doyle, chief insights officer for financial services and real estate at Deloitte, has said: “Tenants’ shift toward quality over quantity has led to desire for attractive, sustainable, well-kitted out spaces, close to transport hubs and amenities.”

This is having a ripple effect with new infrastructure and expanding transport links such as the new Elizabeth Line helping to attract people to previously overlooked areas, such as mid-town and the eastern fringes of the city.

Another influencing factor is the need to bring offices up to scratch legally – especially in terms of energy efficiency – which is set to drive London’s development for the rest of the decade. The letting of commercial space with an EPC rating below E becoming soon becoming unlawful, has initiated 37 new retrofit and refurbishment schemes, providing nearly 300,000m2 of workspace, the highest since Deloitte began tracking activity in 2005.

Recently released figures by Industry analyst Glenigan also show that planning approvals on detailed office schemes in the past three months were up 8 per cent on the start of the year, and 31 per cent on last year, in a clear sign that this sector is not showing any signs of slowing down.

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