The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that businesses across the UK have been forced to adapt to a fully remote workforce
With offices across the country sitting empty for a potentially long period of time, when normality does return many businesses will be questioning the point of having a traditional office space.
For the commercial property market, the question of what the role of the office is in a post-Coronavirus world will be a fundamental and important question.
This pandemic won’t mean the death of the office but it will undoubtedly mean evolution in how they’re used. Specifically, we expect that traditional occupants will be seeking greater flexibility and efficiency from their offices.
Instead of signing long-term leases on offices just because it’s ‘what’s done’, occupants will consider what they need from their workspace. They’ll realise that they’re trying to buy productivity, not square feet.
As an asset manager, operator, or investor, consider what you could give potential occupants with a flexible office space that the traditional office format can’t. Flexibility, productivity, and community are going to be at the top of their want list.
If you can offer them these things, you’re perfectly poised to thrive as we all re-adapt to the new (post-Coronavirus) normal. To capitalise on your serendipitous positioning, though, it’s essential that you market yourself effectively. How?
- Be proactive and human
It’s fair to say that the Coronavirus outbreak and the immediate fallout shook us all and now, more than ever, is the time to be empathetic. Pre-empt the questions or requests potential occupants might make, consider what they might want from a workspace but haven’t thought of, be aware that they’re potentially fearful, and market accordingly.
- Create new solutions
What is the USP of your flexible workplace that could help occupants thrive? How have other occupants used the space to attract and retain talent? What will working in a flexible space look like for workforces that have previously only known traditional offices? Is it the ability to reserve desks for colleagues or clients visiting, recording studios with an on-site technician, a peaceful place for a lunchtime walk, or something else entirely?
- Exploit market gaps
If you can figure out what potential occupants your competitors aren’t focused on – potentially small companies that have been forgotten by the commercial space sector and who most need help – you’ve found your gaps. These businesses have likely been underserved in traditional offices for years. Show them what they’ve been missing.
- Build a physical and virtual community
Make yourself a hub for your occupants, building a community rather than an office complex. Building a fan base is especially important in emerging sectors like coworking and flexible offices. Ideas for building a community in your space include hosting virtual group calls, providing lunch and learn sessions, creating Facebook groups, and building forums or community pages for occupants to chat amongst themselves.
This pandemic has shown that the world of work is ready for change. If businesses decide they want to ditch expensive permanent office space, be there to catch them as they look for their future workspace. Be flexible where others aren’t and, most importantly, be relevant.