As the final quarter of 2020 looms large, businesses are facing the realities of a post-lockdown economy. For commercial property owners, this means coming to terms with lower demand for office units and a rapidly changing rental market – but there are ways of adapting and thriving this year and beyond to reinvent your enterprise.

In our previous article on returning to the office post-lockdown, we touched on the need for landlords to show flexibility and good faith in their dealings with tenants. For their part, prospective building users will need to be clear about how much floor space they need – and what type of building will suit their specific needs – to ensure that a successful rental agreement can be reached. 

Rethinking your enterprise to pinpoint your requirements 

If you’re planning to rent commercial property post COVID-19 you’ve probably already considered the impact on remote working and the slow economic recovery on your company’s operations. 

Before you sign a lease agreement you may want to delve further into your organisation’s changing requirements in order to gain a clearer picture of your actual office space requirements going forward. 

To tackle this problem, a New York-based office-space provider created an algorithm that helps companies allocate space and source physical premises based on the actual needs of their enterprise.

The key takeaway from this and other recent approaches to commercial space in the Covid era is that employees and management still need a physical workplace – and it needs to be flexible and economically viable at a time when change is coming thick and fast.

How much face to face contact does your business require?  

  • A decentralised organisation that has experimented successfully with remote staff and freelance professionals in the past may be in a good position to downsize to several smaller decentralised office spaces.
  • On the other hand a company that relies on team collaboration to complete its management and production processes may find that efficiency and morale start to dip as more employees work from home. A blended approach with a substantial proportion of team members seeing each other in person at least three times a week may be ideal for a business of this type 

You may want to go even further by asking your team to report on the frequency of their face to face interactions, whether they believe they would benefit from more or less face time together, and their honest opinion on working remotely. 

Many employees are now becoming uneasy with the relative isolation and distractions that come with working from home and may welcome the opportunity to return to work several days a week or even permanently. 

Based on your internal research and your team’s feedback you’ll be in a better position to determine your office space needs and proceed in a manner that will ensure team cohesion, collaboration and efficiency. 

Where do you make meaningful contact with your customers?

A further consideration for many businesses is the changing nature of customer engagement. As social distancing becomes the norm many South Africans are embracing online meetings and home delivery while avoiding crowded places. Nonetheless, there’s still a real need for physical interaction with customers in a professional, comfortable and Covid-safe setting.

Retailers and service-based businesses alike will need to assess what kind of floor area and meeting facilities they need going forward. 

  • Simple metrics like counting the number of clients that visit your premises in a given week or month, or analysing your company’s remote meeting schedule can reveal what percentage of your existing customer base actually takes the time to come to your physical premises in the current COVID era
  • Surveying your clients or social media followers to ascertain whether they see significant value in being able to visit your office or retail space – and how often they envisage doing so in the coming year – can also be a useful bit of research, especially when compared to the information gathered in the first step above. 

If your business has seen a dramatic shift to online and remote customer interaction and you feel that this model is worth pursuing, you may want to rethink your physical premises or opt for a smaller office unit. 

It’s worth noting that your commercial property will still need to be well ventilated and physically spaced out to comply with social distancing protocols. 

Let us help you meet your evolving needs 

As you work with your management team and business consultant to determine your company’s physical premises needs an experienced agent can be a valuable source of information and advice.

To discuss your office space needs and find a flexible solution, contact the Commercial Space team today.