The future office: less space but more creative, poll finds

London, 9 November 2020 – According to our poll out today which was conducted in coalition with the ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute, 36% of respondents confirmed that their company would be downsizing their office space in the future, but there is plenty of sentiment that offices will continue to serve a useful purpose as creative hubs and meeting spaces.

Peter Swabey, Policy and Research Director at The Chartered Governance Institute said:

“People have been quick to predict the demise of the office as a result of COVID-19 and the move to home working, but the results of our survey show that there is no clear cut answer when people are considering whether to downsize their office space or not. While 36% said that they would downsize, an additional 31% said that they would not and 33% said that they did not know. While few predict a return to office working as it was pre-COVID, many envisage that the office will continue to serve a valuable purpose as a place for people to meet and collaborate or to serve as a quiet space. There is also a sense that offices are useful to build culture.”

When asked how the office might be used in the future if retained, one respondent confessed that there were ‘loud calls for a return to pre-COVID arrangements’, but the majority of respondents envisaged that office space would be used more creatively. Some respondents plan to implement hybrid working going forward, with working from home the norm for daily tasks and the office reserved for more collaborative tasks, such as bringing people together to innovate, think creatively and for personal contact.

Responses as to how the office might be used if retained included:

  • The main office is likely to not have the lease renewed, opting instead for multiple smaller offices in different locations to improve resilience in light of lockdowns. The intention is to allow half of certain teams to operate out of one office and the other half out of another in order to reduce the chance of a whole team being struck with COVID. Decentralising office space for most of the operational teams
  • For meetings, collaboration and those whose jobs need them to be in the office, but also for people who for physical and mental health reasons need to be in the office
  • Meeting space – internal and guests; for larger online meetings, especially formal meetings
  • A point of contact for post
  • ​​​​For storage space and access to a good printer/scanner
  • More use of the space for collaboration; brainstorming; training; all employee, customer and supplier meetings
  • It will be established as the ‘hub’ – somewhere to meet, collaborate, innovate and check in with each other. It will be an energised space, with layout to support that.

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