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Workplace fitout projects post-C-19. An opportunity?

01 December 2020, by David Lambie

Over the seven months since C-19 came into our world, there seems to have been an evolving conversation about the future of the workplace. 

Our first reaction was to assume that remote working (or Work from Home – WFH) would become the norm – and for good reason. This stimulated all sorts of associated conversations about the future of existing office stock, future rents and the potential for more flexible lease arrangements.  

What has really interested us at TwentyTwo is how quickly these conversations have simmered down and the growing momentum towards a return to the place of work. Or perhaps framed differently, people miss people and going to a space that is all about their work. 

This is not intended to be a sociological commentary, but it’s fascinating that human nature is drawn to working with others in person and that the tactile experience is preferred, especially as C-19 appears to be manageable. This is all despite the efficiency and benefits of technology that we’ve embraced. 

The conclusion might be that C-19 has given us the opportunity to have the best of both worlds from a working perspective. Technology makes working effectively viable, but equally a place of work retains many attractive features.

So what does this mean for the traditional office space? 

Let’s set aside forecasting where office supply and future rents may head in the future and look at the actual physical environment. A very astute client of ours put it nicely – “Our office is now competing with home”. As a result, this client is aspiring to create an office space that captures the features of home and the features of collaborating with their colleagues in person. 

The physical environment then needs to adjust, just as our use of WFH technology has adjusted. For some, this may mean attractive amenity, good location, more open spaces, more comfort, more technology. A place of work that draws people from home… because it is more like home. 

An organisation that has the appetite to reconsider its workplace requirements may consider both the consolidation of its footprint and the opportunity to rethink its physical environment. Naturally, the first step is often related to the status of the existing lease. But even if premises location change or area reduction isn’t possible, we believe there’s a great opportunity now to activate an office fitout over the next year.

Why could now be the right time for a fitout?

The world has changed and many organisations have, out of necessity, had to rethink how space is used. Time to reset. Looking at it strategically, the timing may not be more perfect. The inevitable slowdown in office interior projects post-C-19 in comparison to the significant demand for fitout projects pre-Covid, has resulted in contractors actively seeking new projects. This results in a more competitive market and, therefore, greater cost-effectiveness for clients – as well as the opportunity to set and meet strategic goals for their business. 

Of course, not all organisations are in a position to invest in a fitout project. Start by asking yourself if there’s an opportunity to change the space you’re leasing. If the answer’s yes, TwentyTwo can help you rethink what’s required from your physical workspace, while also taking advantage of the current favourable market conditions. 

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About the author

Has four kids and a cat (and a wife!). Fancies himself as a professional athlete. Rugby/cricket tragic. Always dieting (generally involving Heineken). Needs 'a plan'. Trying to broaden his wardrobe.

David leads our Advisory and Assurance practice areas which includes our core property consultancy and tenant representation workstreams, where we continue to lead the market in providing independent commercial advice. 

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