It happened in supermarkets, with the shift by food retailers away from large, out-of-town retail units to smaller, local shops. But could it be about to happen in offices too?
Demand for local satellite properties has surged as business owners grapple with how to get the workforce back together post Covid-19. Enquiries on properties outside of major city centres doubled in June compared to January, traditionally the high point of the year, with offices making up the majority of those searches, according to commercial property marketplace EG Propertylink. Surburban locations in South Yorkshire, Shropshire and East Sussex saw the biggest rises.
As rules grew over how to distance staff in large city centre offices, where the majority of staff need to commute in on public transport, demand surged in places outside the major cities which are easier to drive to.
“It mirrors a change in people’s daily life behaviour. During the lockdown people have shifted to shopping in their local shops but we don’t have the concept of local offices, but maybe that is changing,” said David Salisbury, group head of Propertylink.
“Firms are looking for office space where colleagues can all work together and collaborate but not have to travel en masse to a big city centre,” he added.
Coventry saw the biggest rise in demand for property, increasing by 113%, with Leeds, Newcastle and Chelmsford close behind.
Overall, office enquiries still lag behind other sectors, and are still 15% below their January, pre-epidemic levels.