Home Business Insights & Advice The outlook for post pandemic empty office buildings in London

The outlook for post pandemic empty office buildings in London

by Sarah Dunsby
21st Dec 22 1:38 pm

Covid-19 transformed the working environment for many industries. As employees were required to work from home, many organisations realised that staff can have a better work-life balance, and be just as productive as they were in the office.

Naturally, this resulted in fewer companies needing office spaces. In fact, London’s office availability in London is higher than it has been for 15 years. An equivalent of 60 Gherkins are sitting empty. So what are the plans to reduce this empty space?

Covid caused a massive shift in working environments

After the lockdowns were over, businesses adapted to the new idea of working. Many let their employees continue working remotely full time, or take on a hybrid workweek between the office and home. On average, workers are now spending half the time in the office than they used to, and one in ten workers said they didn’t want to go back at all.

Many commercial premises stood empty during the height of the pandemic, and lots remain vacant as the years have passed as building owners either sold them, or stopped paying the rent and gave up space. With half the employees coming into the office, hot desking became more popular and people didn’t need their own dedicated workspace.

However, even though you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you can teach an old building new tricks. Many of London’s commercial buildings are now being refurbished to create something new. Whether it’s residential or commercial, the city is adapting to meet demand.

Sustainable commercial spaces

The City of London is planning to convert empty office buildings in the Square Mile to 1500 residential properties by 2030 to meet the high residential demand in London. But there are also plans to turn some of the empty office buildings into low-rent spaces for creatives to set up studios.

The plan is to create an area that is sustainable, and can help small-to-medium enterprises get a spot in the city, as well as creating a stable ecosystem for the empty spaces. For some building owners, completely transforming a space into something new is the best way to make some money by getting a different type of leaseholder to pay the rent. These office refurbishment schemes will breathe new life into these empty spaces and create a fresh, vibrant community in the centre of London.

However, developers have a mammoth task ahead of them as it’ll take more than a fresh coat of paint to get the buildings ready for use again. This involves hiring a construction and interior design company to take the buildings back down to their empty shells, and complete fit outs to bring the spaces up to the requirements of the space. Some large office floors will need to be broken down into separate offices for smaller businesses, or everything removed and redesigned for a studio or residential purpose.

No matter what, these plans will see new life injected into the city and that should be celebrated.

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