Five-Day Office Week Will Be the Norm Again within Two Years

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Five-Day Office Week Will Be the Norm Again within Two Years

According to the Centre for Cities think tank, the five-day office week could be making a comeback within two years.

In the meantime, a mixture of home and office work is expected to be popular, whilst the country continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

However, some analysts have predicted a shift back to pre-covid working patterns for most people.

Currently, anyone who is capable of working from home is still being advised to do so.

But if social distancing restrictions end soon, then this is likely to change.

Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at Centre for Cities, has commented on Radio 5 Live's Wake Up to Money programme that, "I expect we will see three or four days a week in the office as the UK recovers."

"Over the longer term, I'm quite hopeful that we will see people return five days a week.”

"The reason for that is, one of the benefits of being in the office is having interactions with other people, coming up with new ideas and sharing information."

"If you're in the office on a Monday but someone else is in the office on a Wednesday, then you're starting to miss out. Or, if your colleague is in the office and having a meeting with your boss and you're not there, all of a sudden that changes the dynamic again."

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that most people didn’t work from home in 2020, with this figure doubling during the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak has prompted many discussions about the office property market and the future of the workplace.

Lately however, there has been an increased demand for city centre office spaces, but the market is rising slowly.

According to figures from Savills estate agency, the occupied square footage of office space in the UK’s six biggest regional cities has risen significantly since the start of the pandemic.

The estate agency even commented that they have seen “record rents” for some of the best office space in London and other regional cities.

Public services, education, and health have been the sectors signing the biggest regional office deals.

Many office providers have struggled during the pandemic, with office firm IWG reporting a large drop in profits.

Despite this, the company is experiencing “unprecedented demand” for its flexible office services, as lots of businesses adapt to hybrid working.

Jessica Bowles, director of strategy at commercial property developer Bruntwood, has spoken to the BBC about the increased demand the firm has seen for flexible and serviced office space on short-term leases.

"We've had really strong take-up. People want flexible terms.”

"What's interesting is that it's corporates wanting to do that as well as small businesses and SMEs."

However, hybrid working and flexible office leases are not necessarily any cheaper, as "flexibility is priced in". According to Bowles, most businesses actually plan to keep a five-day office week.

"Most businesses that have got space with us now want to maintain having an office, and they don't see that they could give up the office for a certain number of days a week - they just want to use the space differently.”

"That means more collaborative space, fewer banks of desks, places where people can come together and create and innovate."

Bowles also commented that while hybrid working was already becoming more popular before the pandemic struck, this working style can be “challenging” for a lot of businesses, if some staff are in the office, and others are at home.

"I think from a personal, and a business level, we'll see more people seeing the value in coming together to collaborate. But Fridays are always pretty quiet in the office, and I don't expect that to change."

Many businesses, which operate in the office worker trade are now hopeful that things will begin to pick up.

In Birmingham, café owners and siblings James and Naomi Morris are excited for office workers’ return to the city centre, as they originally set up their business in 2019 to specifically target city workers.

James has told the BBC, that he has recently noticed an increased number of commuters coming into the café.

"Over the past few weeks, office workers have slowly been returning. People are starting to work in the cafe - a lady came in for breakfast the other day and took a couple of work calls.”

"Wednesdays and Thursdays are our busiest days."

If restrictions are lifted soon, then James is expecting more workers to return to the city centre.

It’s fair to say, that the prospect of a mass return to the office will not be welcomed by all workers.

Staff at Apple have already launched a campaign against Tim Cook’s proposal for workers to return to the office for three days a week by September.

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