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The Future of London Office Space

Since March 2020, offices across London have been either empty or running at low capacity. The once buzzing, collaborative workplaces have become dormant buildings during lockdown periods, with employees being urged to work from home.

This forced social experiment, which has seen digital connectivity replace traditional working practices, has resulted in much conjecture over the future of London office space. Will we ever go back to normal office life? Will remote working change the way we operate for good? These are questions that remain unanswered, but we do have further insights into the future.

In this article, we look at some of the moves companies and landlords in London are making with the future workplace in mind.

With a focus on office design trends and the latest industry news, we provide an interesting overview of the current market. The article may even give you some encouragement to resume your own London fit out!

Some Tenants Will Get Better Rent Deals

Commercial Office Interiors — Riverbridge House in Kent — Works by Rap Interiors Commercial Office Interiors — Riverbridge House in Kent — Works by Rap Interiors

In response to the fall in demand for London office space due to the pandemic, landlords have been offering longer rent free periods to tenants. According to the London Evening Standard, research from property agent Carter Jones showed some firms were able to get 2.5 years rent free on some new and refurbished office spaces in central London.

The research showed that rent free periods for the fourth quarter were higher than the previous year. In the City, 28 months were typically given rent free compared to 24 the year before. In Docklands, the rent free period increased to 30 months from 26. This is based on a 10-year lease and for letting of 5000 square feet or higher.

The move isn’t surprising given the level of uncertainty. And with sweeteners on offer, tenants could land themselves a great deal if they’re willing to take a chance on a new workspaces.

As well as offering longer rent free periods, landlords can also carry out a CAT A+ fit out to attract tenants to a new workplace. Read more about the benefits of CAT Plus fit out for both tenants and landlords here.

There’s Still Confidence in London Office Space

With employees spending most of their time working from home, many prospective tenants have been holding off property move decisions. Consequently, the office leasing market has suffered dramatically as businesses continue to analyse how their workforce cooperates away from the HQ.

Despite market concerns that home working is here to stay, a number of major companies in law, tech and gaming have taken up new office space in London.

Latham & Watkins have agreed a major pre-let for a state of the art office in the heart of the City. Hardwicke Chambers has also taken up London office space, agreeing to take around 21,000 square feet at One Gray’s Inn.

Tech giant Google has also shown its confidence in the office by publicly confirming its plan for a new, 11-storey central London headquarters in King’s Cross. Called the “landscraper”, the expansive office building will cost around a billion pounds to build and is as long as the Shard is tall, at 330 metres.

This is indeed a good indicator that businesses are looking to go back to the office. But with some calling for a more flexible approach to working, what will it mean for office interior design schemes?

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced the business to modify their existing office designs to only adhere to safety regulations but to accommodate the opinions of their employees to support their mental wellbeing.

While we’ve seen many current office design trends feature in recent refurbishment projects, new workspace design trends have appeared in response to the pandemic, with a focus on wellbeing and collaboration.

Explore our 8 office interior design trends for 2021 here.

 

London Interior Design Will Reflect an Agile Working Model

breakout area for the hudl office fit out in london breakout area for the hudl office fit out in london

The success of remote working has resulted in a culture shift that favours employee wellbeing and a better work/life balance. Therefore, expect to see office designs that lend themselves to this change.

For example, workspaces are likely to be more agile in their design to give employees the freedom to choose how they want to work, with multiple work zones replacing seas of desks. An increase in flexible working will also see the introduction of technology to facilitate communication between those in the office and those at home.

The aforementioned law company Hardwicke Chambers has already taken steps in creating an agile, pro-wellbeing workspace. The new office design includes a flexible “hub” for people to enjoy, two roof terraces and state of the art IT to enable people to “plug in and play” in different areas of the office.

While this all sounds new and exciting, agile offices were already on the rise in London before the pandemic.

There will be a Rise in Flexible Office Space

collaborative workspace in open plan office design collaborative workspace in open plan office design

While we’ve seen some London companies signing long term deals for post-pandemic office space, this won’t be the case for all. Indeed, long office leases may seem like too big a commitment right now for smaller firms that are still establishing themselves.

Given the uncertainty, London real estate consultancy Knight Frank has predicted that we will see a rise in flexible office spaces. These are essentially pre-fitted “plug in and play” workspaces that are typically available on monthly rolling contracts.

For those that are reluctant to sign a long-term lease, flexible office space is a good alternative.

With no up-front fees or fit out costs, flex offices are a financially viable option for start-ups and those that have been hit by the pandemic.

Moreover, flex offices often include stocked kitchenettes, trendy interior designs and networking events, making them an attractive alternative to offices on a long-term lease.

Final Thoughts

Office interior design influence by industrial trend with brick effect wallpaper and black door finishes Office interior design influence by industrial trend with brick effect wallpaper and black door finishes

While the future is still uncertain, the evidence shows that many London firms see the office as central to their business plans. For some, the way the office is designed may change to embrace an agile working model, but the desire for a fixed address that enables face-to-face collaboration will remain the same.

Furthermore, with such a big population of office workers in the capital, it’s likely that London will lead the way in shaping the post-pandemic workplace. Judging by the current developments, the wheels are already in motion.

Are You in Need of a London Interior Design Company?

 With over 30 years of experience transforming workspaces, Rap Interiors has established itself as one of the leading office fit out companies in London.

Whether you’re a landlord looking to build a flexible space or a tenant moving into a new property, our London office designers and project team can optimise your space to meet your requirements.

To book your consultation, call 0333 600 1234 or email refurb@rapinteriors.co.uk.