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Coronavirus: 73% of UK business leaders predict office downsizing in the coming year

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
Colleagues discussing work through glass partition at office desk. Businessman and businesswoman sitting at desk with protection guard between them discussing work post covid-19 pandemic.
Colleagues discussing work through glass partition at office desk. Photo: Getty

The coronavirus pandemic has changed senior business leaders’ attitude towards office space, according to exclusive data given to Yahoo Finance.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of decision-makers believe COVID-19 will result in more UK businesses downsizing to smaller office spaces over the next year, according to a survey by Accumulate Capital.

The survey of more than 500 senior business decision-makers also revealed 37% plan to relocate to a smaller space in the coming year.

The same number (37%) are looking to relocate to a new location with cheaper rent.

Paul Howells, CEO of Accumulate Capital, said: “Today’s research demonstrates just how COVID-19 is affecting both the UK’s businesses and its commercial real estate market.

“As a result of the pandemic, businesses clearly no longer look at offices and commercial property in the same way, which will have significant implications for property developers and commercial landlords.

“The days when a company would own or rent an office with a desk in it for each and every member of staff are coming to an end – in reality, this trend was already taking shape, but the coronavirus crisis has greatly accelerated it.”

READ MORE: Has coronavirus put an end to co-working spaces for good?

Half of those surveyed acknowledge that their preferences for work spaces has changed significantly as a result of the pandemic, while nearly the same proportion (45%) say they do not expect employees to all be working from the office at the same time.

Meanwhile, 58% of those surveyed believe that working from home will become the norm.

While traditional office space may be going through an identity crisis, 57% of those polled by Accumulate still said they would rely on a physical workspace to network with partners and potential clients.

This comes alongside other research that shows the co-working space economy may be in doubt.

According to a survey of more than 14,000 co-working spaces across 172 countries by co-working marketplace website Coworker, 72% said they had seen a decrease in the number of people working from their space since the outbreak.

Along with fewer people working in their workplaces, 41% of co-working spaces reported a negative impact on membership and contract renewals since the outbreak. A further 67% of spaces have experienced a drop in the number of new membership enquiries.