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The rise in flexi-working and its impact on commercial real-estate

How the new way of working has affected the commercial real-estate market.



2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic brought about a new professional landscape, one in which flexi-working is standard for more and more companies across the world. While this has been welcomed by many employees and employers alike, it has had damaging effects on some sectors, one of which is commercial real-estate.


This article is exploring the rise in flexi-working, and the impact it’s had upon the commercial real-estate sector.


WHAT IS FLEXI-WORKING?

Flexi-working is a more flexible way of working, which allows staff to fit their professional responsibilities around their personal lives, and accommodate their individual needs, in a way that standard working doesn’t. Staff have the option to work from home if they prefer, and to complete their hours in a way that suits their schedule.


A SHIFT IN WORKING PRACTICES

Flexi-working has been around for a while, but it wasn’t widely adopted until the Covid-19 pandemic hit. With governments all around the world asking companies to allow staff to work from home as much as possible, employers realized that giving their staff flexibility in their hours and working environment didn’t have the negative impact on productivity that they had previously thought it might.


With the realization that productivity is not linked to working from an office and to rigid hours, more and more companies have accepted the shift in working practices and offer flexi-working to all staff.


THE IMPACT ON COMMERCIAL REAL-ESTATE

While flexi-working has been welcomed by many, it’s also unfortunately presented huge challenges for the commercial real-estate sector. With more and more people working from home for at least some of the week, companies are moving away from traditional office set-ups. Instead, people are opting for spaces that are designed to be fluid and that can accommodate ever-changing needs.


What this means for commercial real-estate is fewer tenants, changed working patterns which result in unpredictable tenant requirements, a change in the spaces needed, and more uncertainty than ever.


ADAPTING TO THE TIMES

In order to not get left behind, commercial property developers need to adapt to the times and amend their offerings. Instead of traditional office buildings, developers could offer workspaces that are suited to co-working with open-plan concepts. These will accommodate the more fluid nature of office work that is now the norm, and will allow multiple businesses to take on a space, ensuring maximum financial return.


It looks unlikely that we’ll ever go back to the old way of working, with rigid office hours and employees required to be in the office every day – instead, flexi-working appears to be the new normal. As a result, now more than ever it’s important to sell workspaces, rather than just offices.


Even now, as the world is regaining some semblance of normality, flexi-working is not going anywhere. As such, the sectors most negatively impacted by its persistence have had to adapt to the times we now live in. While commercial real-estate has taken a knock with more people working from home, the sector has done what was necessary to mould itself to the new commercial demands.


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