The impact of home working on the commercial property sector
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, many office based businesses have had to change their working practices to allow employees to work from home. 18 months on, how have these changes impacted on the commercial property sector? Anna Austin, Joint Head of Commercial Property at Battens investigates:
Like many businesses Battens has had to adapt quickly to the demands of the pandemic; as a firm we were very well set up to cope. State–of-the-art technology enabled a smooth transition to home based working for many of our staff and our day to day working environment has become an effective and flexible hybrid. Some members of staff are entirely office based while others are exclusively home based, with most embracing a mixture of the two.
Whilst working from home has a number of benefits to both individuals and businesses we are yet to see a negative impact on the commercial property sector, despite concerns being expressed in the media about a fall in demand for office space. This is not being reflected in the number of commercial property transactions which Battens is dealing with.
We have had a relatively steady flow of new instructions on leasehold transactions throughout the pandemic with the largest spike occurring in or around May this year. Enquiries have come in across all sectors including leisure, retail, light industrial/warehousing as well as offices both locally and in London. Long may that continue but, even if there is a shift in the demand for office space, the commercial property sector will most likely adapt to the market conditions. As businesses seek flexibility and existing tenants look to adjust or manage their existing arrangements, we may see increased instructions for shorter lets, serviced offices, underlettings and assignments as well as surrenders of existing leases. The future remains bright for commercial property in the South West and beyond.
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