More than one in three medium-sized firms expect to reduce the amount of office space they hold in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, according to a survey examining future commercial property demand.
Of the 275 British companies surveyed, 39% said they expected to reduce their office footprint at some point in the future, according to accountant Grant Thornton.
Occupiers are increasingly looking at ways to adapt their working patterns in response to a prolonged shift towards working from home brought about by the pandemic, including scaling back their office portfolio and reassessing how remaining space is used.
Researchers said that while reports of the death of the office which emerged from the early months of lockdown were likely to be an overstatement, companies had still expressed “a focus on reducing space gradually over time”.
Of those planning reductions, 74% expected that they would cut back on space by up to a quarter. A further 12% expected to reduce their office space by up to a half.
John Burgess, associate director of real estate and assets at Grant Thornton, said this would result in “a shift from habitual daily desk-based working to a much greater focus on planned collaboration time with teams and with clients”.
He added: “This change in working style provides a chance for companies to reimagine their offices and create spaces for their people, clients, customers and stakeholders to use collaboratively, and more strategically.
“The split view across respondents as to how they anticipate their space being used going forward also demonstrates the need for bespoke solutions.
“Businesses need to ensure that any review of their space, and how they use it going forward, meets both the needs of their people – which are likely to have changed over the last year – and the unique requirements of their business.”
The findings echo a January report by the CBI which indicated that more than half of London’s financial services firms now have concrete plans to reduce office space.