Friday 9 April 2021 12:01 am

Bosses plot office move amid home working shift

The bosses of some of the UK’s biggest companies have said they are planning to move offices as a result of the shift to home working.

A new survey found that 38 per cent of business leaders planned to downsize, across the board while 42 per cent said they were looking to move or to invest in a shared office.

Just 13 per cent of them predicted a full-time return to the office this year.

The survey of 501 managers at FTSE 250 firms, gathered for office company IWG, suggested that businesses were much more likely to pursue a hybrid work model in the future than go back to asking staff to work from a central office five days a week.

It is data that, if proved accurate, would benefit IWG, itself a member of the FTSE 250.

The company has for years been betting on a slow shift towards a more decentralised working model. Over the last two years, almost all of its new sites were opened outside cities and away from major urban areas.

This move has been accelerated by the pandemic, with demand rising by a third for suburban office space and by a fifth for offices in rural areas in recent months.

The survey results showed that 49 per cent of businesses were weighing up whether to move to areas where their workforce typically lived, while 77 per cent of employees said that working closer to home was a must when they next moved jobs.

“This shift also has the potential to transform local economies; in 2019 we forecast that over the next 10 years local economies were set to benefit from £12bn as a result of the growth in hybrid work patterns,” IWG chief executive Mark Dixon said. “The pandemic has not only accelerated this trend but likely increased that figure.”

He added: “Employees have realised that hours have been wasted commuting to an office that they don’t need to be in, whilst businesses have seen that a hybrid model not only means happier and more engaged employees, but also significant cost savings.”