One Year On, UK Flex Office Firms See A Bit Of Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Contract occupancy in flexible office space has stabilised one year on from the start of lockdown, as the battered sector starts to see something of a return to normal service.
Occupancy has levelled out at 66% in March, according to the latest UK provider sentiment survey from Workthere, the same level as in the flexible office specialist’s survey in October 2020. This is down from 80% in early March last year.
The occupancy level is expected to begin bouncing back over the coming months with enquiries now up to 89% of their pre-Covid level, the survey found, compared with 8% in March last year and 56% in October 2020, an indication that companies are preparing to return to normal working patterns.
The survey also shows that the percentage of occupiers asking for rent relief has dropped dramatically year-on-year, falling from 53% in April 2020 to 13% in March 2021. This is a significant drop from the 28% recorded in October.
The sentiment survey also indicated that the percentage of providers who are optimistic or very optimistic about the next three months has risen from 26% in October 2020 to 71%, with this figure rising from 74% to 94% for the next 12 months. This is in comparison to 88% pre-pandemic.
“What we are seeing here is that, despite the UK still being in a national lockdown, there are green shoots of recovery indicating a slow return to normality,” Workthere UK Head Jack Williamson said. “The vaccine rollout to date and roadmap out of lockdown has certainly helped businesses prepare for how and when they will return to the office. As such, we have seen enquiries and subsequently deals steadily increase in the first three months of the year and, as confidence grows, we expect a steady increase in providers' overall occupancy figures from the base of 66% seen between the end of 2020 and up to now.”