BUSINESS MATTERS: FINESSING WORKSPACES FOR A FLEXIBLE FUTURE
The pandemic has turbo-charged trends around where and how we work. But what does this mean for Bristol businesses looking to get their staff off their sofas and back into the office… and for landlords and developers keen to achieve tenant appeal? Phil Morton from Morton Property Consultants offers his advice.
After a topsy-turvy year, Bristol’s office market is displaying cautious confidence. We saw 20 city centre deals in Q1, totalling 116,457 sq ft – four over 10,000 sq ft. While that’s 20% below the five-year average, it’s still a great achievement during lockdown. A further 105,000 sq ft are in solicitors’ hands.
On the supply side, new Grade A availability stands at 101,682 sq ft (The Distillery and Aurora) with another circa 345,000 under construction at Halo, EQ, Assembly and 1 Portwall Square. Grade B availability is 650,000 sq ft, with some high-quality refurbishment schemes coming online this year.
So, a broadly balanced market through all the grades is keeping headline rents and incentives steady. The overriding trend is that occupiers are looking for lower staff-to-space ratios, but of higher quality, with greater flexibility (contractually and physically) and more wellbeing amenities. Refurbishments coming through have rightly focussed on incorporating new certifications such as WiredScore, CyclingScore, SmartScore, FitWel and WELL.
Landlords will need to think about upgrading ahead of tenants’ lease events… and with rents for quality refurbished space being so close behind Grade A there are big incentives for making that investment. The role of specialist agents like myself is now to understand the mindset of our tenant clients, and ensure that our developer and landlord clients really grasp what matters to them.
A flexible future
A few months into lockdown, we pondered whether the days of the office as we’ve always known them were numbered. Now there’s a recognition that offices play a key role in maintaining business culture, onboarding new personnel and facilitating collaboration.
We’re seeing a range of flexible working arrangements amongst clients – from stipulating core working hours through to agreeing a level of remote working and on to “total trust”. Yes, almost everyone will be looking for a “hybrid solution”, but every occupier will want a bespoke solution dependent upon: the nature of the business: whether they’re in an expansion or consolidation phase; and their staff profile… the younger they are, the more likely they are to want to work in the office.
How the space is fitted out is also key: not just getting the right blend of core and agile space, but also how you create areas where personnel can work at their desk, collaborate or just bump into each other for a serendipitous chat over a coffee. That will determine how much desk space to allow for, along with collaborative areas and communal facilities.
We’re currently acting for some of the city’s biggest occupiers as well as helping smaller businesses plan ahead: our recent deals range from 500 up to 74,000 sq ft. But what everyone now wants is a personal, hands-on service that helps them finesse their future.
Back to News