MIPIM is back! After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the international property conference is back in Cannes this week (March 2022). This year the event is focusing on six key themes, which all filter into an overarching theme of Driving Urban Change.
One of the themes takes a closer look at the office uprising. After COVID-19 caused many people to start working from home, 2022 should be the year we start to see those employees returning to the office again. In fact, MIPIM has likened the office resurgence to “the Phoenix coming to birth again from its ashes!”
Ever since the world went into lockdown and people began working from home at a scale never seen before, there has been lots of discussion on what we can expect next for the offices market.
Our recent report, ‘A more flexible future: redefining the role of the office’, was carried out in collaboration with the British Property Federation, and was based on a survey of 497 senior executives responsible for making property decisions. In the report we provided an analysis of the changing office use habits, the locations that occupiers are looking at moving to and how quickly they were willing to make that move.
We found that flexibility across the board was, of course, paramount – whether that was in terms of flexible space or flexible tenancies. Many of the respondents, and indeed something we’ve heard anecdotally also, said that flexibility was important due to fluctuating occupation levels following COVID-19 and increased remote working – a trend which we expect to remain.
That being said, our research found that an overwhelming majority of occupiers agreed that there will always be a business need for an office: to facilitate collaboration and maximise the performance of individuals and teams. In fact, this year alone we have acted on a large number of deals for our clients within the office space.
In our ever changing world, what we needed in 2020, changed in 2021, and is changing again in 2022 and beyond. As our world adapts to life post-pandemic and starts to go back to what some may consider as ‘normal’, the offices market has been changed forever.
Going forward there are likely to be a range of requirements from office tenants, including the need for office space to be more sustainable as more and more businesses outline their net zero carbon goals and require workplaces that feed into these. This is coupled with a requirement for quality digital infrastructure that will aid connectivity and data security – the need for both has been accelerated thanks to more employees working from home and our increased reliance on using the internet.
For now, these are just expectations of what may be to come. To find out exactly what the property decision makers think, we will be re-running our research to find out what has changed and to compare what they said in 2021. Sign up to our mailing list to be the first to receive the research when it comes out.
About the author(s)
Felicity Lindsay is a London-based Gowling WLG partner who focusses on commercial development and investment transactions in the real estate sector.