The pandemic has brought about big shifts in ways of working and as a result, many businesses have begun to implement policies to downsize headcount and reduce their exposure to rental costs. This has also led tenants to look at ways of maximising any unused or inefficient use of real estate.
Office space represents the second largest operational cost for businesses but office space is not simply being viewed as an overhead for businesses. Offices and workplaces offer a space for people to boost creativity, productivity and collaboration and these benefits will ensure that office space remains a core part of business strategies.
The dust has started to settle around hybrid working and what that looks like for businesses. The focus has now turned to a search for inspiration and ideas for what to do with your extra office space and how to build a strategy for repurposing surplus workspace.
The best use of extra office space is determined solely by the objective. An office fit out is unique to each company and the best option for one company is not necessarily right for the next. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to identifying the best way to use extra office space but it is crucial to engage with your people before any changes take place.
Each department will have different requirements from the office, particularly as they return to the office as part of a hybrid or flexible agreement. With the potential for change in ways of working, your extra office space is an asset in helping your people adjust to new demands. Studies have shown that while 12% indicated that their companies downsized their office spaces, 10% revealed that they needed bigger office facilities to account for growth. This shows that each business will adapt in different ways and your office space will contract or grow based on the way people use it. Your people will be your most reliable resources when it comes to understanding how much is needed to support their working needs so it is important to engage with them.
The office is no longer the only place people can be productive, meaning the workplace will have a greater emphasis on adaptable space to encourage employees to return to the office. These spaces could be touch-down areas, private booths, open meeting spaces and multi-functional areas that support work both formal and informal use. There are plenty of ways to get more out of unused office space and these are three of the most popular ways to reuse and repurpose surplus space.
If you have extra office space that you are not currently using or are using inefficiently, then an office redesign may be the most practical solution. There are lots of reasons to consider redesigning your office space and the most innovative solution will depend on what your business objectives are.
Restacking is about reimaging an office environment to help a business deliver on its objectives as well as maximise its available space. If you occupy multiple floorplates then restacking your office is an effective way of consolidating your operations and optimising unused space.
Subleasing a portion of your space is a way to recover rental costs to cover the financial obligations of your lease terms. While you would still be responsible for paying the rent, business rates and service charge on the full space, a subtenant can help offset overheads by covering these costs on the space they occupy.
The mass adaption of hybrid and flexible ways of working has forced businesses to look at their current office space to assess how to accommodate new working habits of workers. In a move that’s being recognised as a shift from ‘Me to We’ spaces, many companies have started to assess their office space to redesign the workplace to support new ways of working. JLL stated that they expect office space to become more collaborative, with allocated collaboration areas to increase from around 10% to 25%. The reasons for redesigning your office will depend on what your business wants to achieve with its space. If your existing space doesn’t support your workforce then a redesign may be the most practical solution without having to relocate.
When Trainline decided to redesign its office, one of its primary challenges was getting the most out of the property. They already occupied two floors within their building and wanted to take on another floor to accommodate their plans. By redesigning their workplace, it was possible to add an extra 50 agile workstations on each floor. Their existing space was the right size but the way it had been set up limited their capabilities. Our redesign was achieved without building any new partitions and activating underused space.
Through all the changes and pushes towards new ways of working, the office is being used differently as the traditional 9-5 is being adapted by businesses across a variety of sectors.
One of the main benefits of redesigning your office is to attract staff back to work by giving them an environment that supports them. As the workplace and the way we work is currently adapting to new expectations established during the pandemic, an office redesign can help to support company culture and improve productivity. Employee experience is a big focus area for businesses as people want their time in the office to be practical and to offer a unique experience compared to working remotely.
Redesigning your office space is also an effective way to adapt to new ways of working to help promote collaboration and communication with colleagues. Michele Parmelee, Global Deputy CEO and Chief People & Purpose Officer at Deloitte thinks that the right environment will help people thrive.
Designing a new office will help unite people and allow them to return to work in their own time as they begin to understand how the office provides more than just a place to work.
Restacking your office is workplace terminology for adjusting your office layout and reorganising your office space. Typically used for office spaces set across multiple floors, tenants usually restack their space due to repurposing underused space or restructuring department adjacencies.
Restacking has many advantages over relocating your office space as it allows you to adjust your layout to enhance productivity, you don’t need to go through the relocation processes unnecessarily and you can reallocate a proportion of your space to be used as sublet space.
One of the main benefits of restacking an office is that you can implement changes without having to do any construction in the workplace. Key parts of the office may stay in the same place depending on the results of the workplace consultancy findings. The focus is on improving the inefficiencies within the office and this will only be determined by engaging with employees and addressing the weaknesses and underutilised areas in the office. Embracing changes that allow for new circulation routes, collaboration and communication capabilities will help with adapting an office without having to spend money on building new tea points or meeting rooms.
Restacking your office to maximise extra space is a process-driven change that should be managed effectively so that any objectives can be delivered. It is also important to look at the way the restack is conducted internally. In the same way that new ways of working mean change and people moving to new parts of the office, an office restack should be strategic and not just aesthetic.
London EC3 / Financial / 30,000 sq ft / 11 weeks
Learn how we helped our client in the city reconfigure and restack their office over multiple phases.view case study
A sublease agreement is a way for businesses to cover rental fees on surplus space that they don’t need on either a short-term basis or for the duration of their lease. If you go through a change in strategy or decide to downsize your office space, subletting space will help you to reduce overheads and generate additional revenue.
There is a consideration for whether you need to refurbish the space you plan to sublet as transforming this space into attractive and immediately occupiable office space will make it a more appealing option for businesses looking to move in.
One of the main benefits of subletting extra office space is that you can save money. This is the main reason most companies will look to sublet their space. As the primary tenant, you can reclaim part of the rental cost for the space you don’t need. Rather than sitting on the extra space and maintaining that overhead cost, finding a sublet tenant means that you can cover that cost.
A common reason for subletting extra space is that your company is growing and while you will need more space in the future, you don’t need it right now. It is a good option for companies that are looking to expand in the future as it allows them to take more space than they need with the view of having the extra space to grow into in the future without having to relocate. Subleasing can provide greater flexibility in leases and with more remote and hybrid working policies becoming the norm, having the ability to have greater flexibility in your office space while also splitting the fees.
Before making any quick decisions about whether to sublet your space, it is important to assess what portion of the space needs to be retained, what can be carved away from the existing space and what reconfigurations are needed to facilitate this process. Things like privacy and confidentiality will need to be considered as will the reality of taking responsibility for damages. Subleasing part of your office space needs to be part of a considered, long-term workplace strategy as the allowance of space should be calculated based on the projected growth of the company.
The introduction of new working patterns and working models, like hybrid working, means we are interacting with the office in a slightly different way. The Freespace Index published figures in March 2022 that showed that the office occupancy rate peaked at 42 per cent, which was the highest single post-pandemic daily rate. The average before the pandemic was 63 per cent. While this number shows the confidence behind returning to the office, it demonstrates that workers are spending less time in the office. This means that time in the office is now more valuable than ever and that in-office experience needs to be optimised. Workplace design has already started to adapt to cater for new demands by promoting greater flexibility and improved reconfiguration capabilities.