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Will your company be downsizing its office space?

04 November 2020

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This month we decided to see what The Chartered Governance Institute and Core communities thought about downsizing office space and alternative uses for it.

When we asked the respondents if their company would be downsizing the office space, the results were very close with 36% saying the company would be reducing it, 31% saying no and the remainder at 33% did not know.

We then asked how the office will be used in the future if it is being retained, e.g. for brainstorming and facilitating effective collaboration and so on. One respondent said “We plan to implement hybrid working going forward, with working from home the norm for daily tasks and coming into the office to come together for innovate, creative thinking and personal contact”.

Another respondent said: “Discussions are still ongoing as to how we will use the space. Although we won’t ever be in like we were before and we will be sharing the space with other sister companies” and another answer was “Main office is likely to not have lease renewed opting instead for multiple smaller offices in different locations to improve resiliency in light of lockdowns. Intention is to allow half of certain teams to operate out of one office and the other half out of another in order to reduce the chance of a whole team being struck with COVID-19. Decentralising office space for most of the operational teams”.

Other answers included: “Mostly collaboration space with some desks that can be booked for those who need to mix office and home working for space/wellbeing reasons”, “Some office space is being retained. This will be redesigned to include much more meeting and collaboration space than we currently have, and fewer desks with a move to hot desking. (Hot desking was being rolled out slowly pre-pandemic, but is now accelerated)” and “We expect significantly fewer people to be consistently office based in the medium term. The space will likely be re-configured to be even more collaborative than it is currently”.

We then asked whether respondents thought a divide had been created by those who have to go to work, such as factory workers and those who continue to remotely.

One respondent said “Initially this was a challenge for operational colleagues but this has been resolved by tailored comms to distinguish different working patterns/arrangements” and another commented that “Yes. Despite many of those who have to go to work being deemed key workers this is not being reflected in their salaries and job security. Those who have to go to work have been more likely to be put on furlough or to lose their jobs. This has further heightened the North/South divide”.

Other answers included “A little yes. But I think once workplaces are COVID secure, people just get on with it and are happy to be working”, “Can’t say as I have not spoken to factory workers. Flexible working from home when needing solitude was becoming more acceptable practice for office workers in the City pre-COVID in my experience. I can imagine that persons wishing to isolate but who can’t do their jobs from home may feel worried. There is likely a misconception that people working from home have it easy and do less work but in many cases actually work longer hours”. 

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