Director National Offices
Savills, South Wales
Cardiff's ability to work from home puts their local economy in a strong position amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cardiff is in a strong position in the UK as a high proportion of jobs in the area are within industries that are able to facilitate homeworking. According to data from Centre for Cities in 2018, up to 37.5% of jobs in Cardiff could facilitate homeworking whilst the work from home mandate remains in place. This puts Cardiff at the 6th highest position in the UK and is therefore likely to see less economic disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic than other parts of the UK.
The shift to homeworking has undoubtedly been challenging and as the uncertainty continues, it is likely to remain that way for the time being. However, in our survey on the future impacts on office space, up to 89% of respondents believe that physical office space remains a necessity for companies to operate successfully, but the office is set to change.
For many, home-working has changed the purpose of existing office space with an emphasis on in-person collaboration, decreasing desk space allocation and reducing occupational density. In future, offices will need more social hubs to support team working, face-to-face meetings and events that enhance shared learning, career development and the reinforcement of a company’s brand and culture.
Covid-19 is essentially fast-forwarding the implementation of change in office design that was already underway, in line with the industry’s vision for a better workplace experience. We can expect to see companies reacting in many different ways dependent on their core business needs. Office design fundamentally will focus on facilitating heightened well-being, productivity and collaboration between people. This will apply to those who make up the more traditional office occupiers, as well as sectors that are set to see continued expansion such as technology.
It is clear that in order to support a return to the workplace, office design must better reflect a future mobile workforce. In the mid to longer term, this could see high-density open plan workspaces reduce in volume and morph into more diverse office environments to support this new way of working. A focus on use of space and amenities is anticipated.
We have already seen many landlords providing more amenities in buildings such as coffee shops, showers, dressing rooms, higher densities of cycle parking gyms, and this is set to be the norm going forward. Landlords and occupiers will need to ensure that their offices and common parts in buildings go further to meet the needs of the end users going forward, to ensure that they have the right environment to work with the right services provided. Buildings such as 11 Womanby Street and Hodge House are recent examples of buildings which have been refurbished to provide some of these amenities. One Central Square was one of the first office buildings in Cardiff to have a ground floor café.
Developers are also coming around to the fact that they need to provide more ground floor amenity space than would have been considered only a few years back. Whilst these areas won’t generate rental income for the developer, they realise that this space is crucial to attracting occupiers who need this space to suit modern working day demands.
Ultimately the office will continue to play an essential role in attracting and retaining the future generation of talent. It is important we get the right balance of office amenity and flexibility to help continue to support business growth and development. Rather than reduce space we’ve seen a number of businesses look at how they should be using that space to facilitate future use, which ultimately will benefit businesses and employees in the long-term.