Hybrid working is driving demand for offices with less of a commute

The demand for satellite offices is on the rise as employees ditch the traditional morning commute to city centres five days a week.

A study by Unispace has found that employees’ new working preferences have created an immediate need for firms to rethink their real estate footprint.

Today, with over 60% of employees choosing to work remotely or in a hybrid way, rather than commute to city centres five days a week, employers should consider the use or addition of satellite offices to their portfolio.

According to the study of 3,000 office workers across Europe, 79% of the workforce would be happier to return to the office if it was just five to 10 minutes away from their home, suggesting that satellite offices could be a solution to boost collaboration, socialisation, engagement and staff retention.

The publication – The Real Estate Dilemma: Is now the time to reduce your real estate footprint – reinforces the notion that hybrid working is the preferred arrangement for the majority of office workers, which will clearly impact strategic decisions around where office space is located and how buildings can best be utilised.

At the time of the survey, just 26% of employees were working full-time in an office, and 13% were entirely home-based, with the majority (63%), working in a hybrid way. Just 27% said they would prefer to be completely office based in the future.

Businesses are certainly responding to the new working styles with the amount of abandoned office space in London now estimated to have reached 20.2 million square feet.

However, Unispace’s research indicates that abandoning the workplace isn’t the best response, with over half (53%) of their sample saying working from home restrictions had made them value the office more and a further 77% indicating that it was easier to bond with, and get to know, colleagues in the office.

Employees are clearly looking to employers to curate their workplace experience, providing options based on the type of work or activity taking place on any given day. This could include satellite offices together with a destination workplace such as an HQ, which focuses on events, training and development, product launches, or hosting clients, alongside the required focus and collaboration spaces.

Lawrence Mohiuddine, CEO EMEA at Unispace, said, “The advantages of working collectively shouldn’t be underestimated.

“In a post-pandemic world, workers are craving the human contact that they may have taken for granted pre-Covid. With 79% of employees admitting they would be happier to return to the office if it was just five to 10 minutes from home, creating satellite offices to supplement an amenity-packed HQ could be a logical approach for firms seeking to meet the diverse needs of their people post-pandemic.

“Crucially, firms must look to understand not only the needs of their current employees but also the composition of their future workforce and their distinct preferences, which we know differ from country to country and by numerous demographics such as life-stage, income and gender. By taking this approach, organisations can effectively optimise short and long-term real estate decisions.

Jen Gaster, Founder and MD of HR recruiters HR Heads, said, “From an HR recruitment side, the pandemic has shifted how and where people want to work.

“Flexible and hybrid approaches are proving to be a huge competitive advantage, especially with the top HR talent in exceptional demand.

“At HR Heads we offer hybrid and flexible working patterns to the team, which has enabled us to grow the business dramatically over the last 18 months.

“When talking to businesses that are looking to hire, we can use our experiences to point out the benefits of flexible and hybrid working.

“Moving forward, the organisations that continue to embrace the hybrid and flexible models are able to offer a far better employee value proposition – and therefore entice the best HR candidates to their roles.”