As part of his responsibilities as Chief Strategy Office (UK) at Cushman & Wakefield Richard Pickering leads C&W's Futures Programme "a response to the disruptive factors impacting on the use of and investment in real estate". His weekly Futures/Cut blog, subscribed to by thousands, is highly recommended.
In the latest Future/Cuts publication Richard notes "when the dust settles on Covid-19, as at some point it inevitably will, some things will go back to normal, but other things will be changed more permanently". Over the last few years home/flexible/agile working has become generally - but not universally - accepted. The change has been gradual, in some ways almost imperceptible. Widespread fears persist that WFH is nothing more than a slacker's charter. Yet in just the last three weeks, vast numbers of office workers across all industry sectors have migrated to a more or less fully functioning remote working model, with little or even no interruption in service delivery.
All will be having their own unique experience of this new way of working. For some it will be heaven, for others closer to hell. Yet what seems certain is that corporate office occupiers, particularly those with multiple offices, will have a dawning realisation that now is the time to look again, more closely than ever before, at why and how space is occupied, or perhaps more pertinently not occupied. We may think what we are doing now is temporary - an interruption to the norm - but with wellbeing, the climate and the bottom line set to benefit if surplus space can be offloaded - it may just become permanent.
The biggest barrier to change is not typically the progress of technology, but rather a cultural willingness to adopt it. COVID-19 is the catalyst for breaking existing patterns of activity, inventing new ones, and over a period of months, hardwiring them.