Global companies to reinvent the office for life beyond the pandemic Filed on April 28, 2021 | Last updated on April 28, 2021 at 06.21 pm
Around 65 per cent of firms plan to grow or stabilise their office portfolio within three years, with 46 per cent planning to improve the workplace amenities available to staff post-pandemic. — Reuters

Survey of 400 global firms employing 10 million people reveals businesses are looking to offices to boost employee wellbeing, collaboration, and talent attraction.

International businesses are looking to their workplaces to revitalise corporate brand and culture after the pandemic, which will see significantly improved amenities and services available for employees, according to the latest research from Knight Frank.

Knight Frank’s second edition of its (Y)OUR SPACE report draws on responses from almost 400 international businesses with a combined headcount in excess of 10 million, providing unique insight into the workplace strategies and real estate needs of global companies. As firms begin to look beyond the pandemic, with vaccine rollouts providing a roadmap to measures being eased around the world, they are evaluating the experience of the past year and how to enhance their workplaces for the future.

William Beardmore-Gray, global head of Occupier Services and Commercial Agency at Knight Frank, said: “There is a mood of change in the air. Global firms are looking beyond the pandemic and are focused on how their workplaces can enhance corporate culture and re-engage employees in a new age of agile working. We are seeing a re-familiarisation with the office beginning in many big cities around the world. Firms want to give employees the best of both worlds, allowing them to work flexibly, but making their offices the best possible experience, which means delivering higher quality and more engaging workplaces.”

New amenities and better service are top real estate demands

Firms will embrace a new era of agile working by enhancing their corporate offices, not abandoning them. Over the next three years 47 per cent of firms will seek to improve the quality of the space they occupy, with 46 per cent looking to improve the amenities available to employees within the workplace. 55 per cent of respondents said they will create more collaborative spaces within their offices and 54 per cent said they will implement desk-sharing or ‘hot desking’ over the same period, despite Covid-19 having largely prevented desk-sharing over the past year.

Andrew Love, partner, head of occupier services and commercial agency, said: “Over recent years in the Middle East we have seen concerted eorts to move towards a more sustainable future, particularly in relation to the built environment, with a strong focus on the development of green and sustainable buildings. In the real estate development space, whilst we have certainly seen a shift from relatively carbon intensive practices to a more green agenda undoubtedly, a tremendous amount more must be done to ensure that the future of the built environment is truly sustainable and therefore futureproof, both for society and as an asset class.”

Of the amenities occupiers will look to bring to their workplaces post-pandemic, dedicated mental health facilities and click and collect services have risen into the top five priorities, whilst amenities supporting wellbeing dominate the list:

On site food and beverage (65 per cent)

Gym facilities (47 per cent)

Cycle storage (46 per cent)

Mental health facilities, such as sanctuary spaces (45 per cent)

Click and collect facilities (45 per cent)

Occupiers’ biggest frustrations with their landlords are a lack of flexibility (29 per cent) and a lack of innovation in product or service offering (21 per cent), highlighting the need for landlords to invest in operations, property management and tenant services. Encouragingly, 60 per cent of respondents said they had seen an increase or significant increase in communication with their landlord over the course of the pandemic, providing an opportunity for landlords and tenants to develop a more collaborative and partnership-orientated relationship for the long-term.

“Across the Middle East commercial market, sustainability and smart technology are two areas where we have seen concerted eorts made, with many GCC countries setting out ambitious clean energy plans. Green credentials for buildings are already growing in significance amongst businesses, developers and investors and will likely determine the future lettability and saleability of assets as the green agenda becomes increasingly mainstream," said Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East Research at Knight Frank.

"As we start to emerge from the wave of global lockdowns, businesses are gearing up for the ongoing war for talent, which is where we see offices being a key differentiator in attracting and retaining staff, with the largest firms putting a higher value on the health, safety and wellbeing of their people – being greener will be a key part of that. As this year’s (Y)OUR SPACE report clearly illustrates, the pressure is mounting on businesses to address the climate challenge and make stronger connections between such ambitions and future real estate requirements and utilisation,” concluded Durrani. —

Staff Reporter

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