A research conducted by Knight Frank has revealed that international businesses are looking into their workplaces to revitalize corporate brand and culture after the pandemic. This plan is expected to see significantly improved amenities and services available for employees.

Knight Frank’s second edition of its (Y)OUR SPACE report draws on responses from almost 400 international businesses with a combined headcount in excess of 10 million. The research provides unique insight into the workplace strategies and real estate needs of global companies.

As firms begin to look beyond the pandemic, they are evaluating the experience of the past year and how to enhance their workplaces for the future.

Despite over a year of restricted access to offices, businesses continue to identify their workplaces as an essential component of their corporate identity post-pandemic. 90% of global occupiers surveyed by Knight Frank said that real estate is a strategic device for their business. 49% of firms named ‘corporate brand and image’ as the top strategic priority fulfilled by their real estate, while offices are also increasingly seen as a tool for improving employee wellbeing.

The need to improve office amenities or adjust workplace strategies will see up to one in four firms relocate their corporate headquarters after the pandemic. 38% of firms said it is either likely, very likely or definite that they will relocate their corporate headquarters within the next three years, setting the scene for significant activity in the office market. There will be a flight to quality space, with 92% of firms planning to increase or retain the same level of quality in their offices.

Many businesses are also planning to increase their use of offices to support their growth ambitions beyond the pandemic, with 30% of firms looking to increase their total office space within the next three years. In total, 65% of firms plan to grow or stabilize their current level of space.

Tech firms are set to be the biggest drivers of demand for office space, with 39% of the global occupiers anticipating an increase in the size of their global footprint over the next three years. These are Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) businesses.

William Beardmore-Gray, Global Head of Occupier Services and Commercial Agency at Knight Frank, said, “There is a mood of change in the air. Global firms are looking beyond the pandemic and are focused on how their workplaces can enhance corporate culture and re-engage employees in a new age of agile working. We are seeing a re-familiarization with the office beginning in many big cities around the world. Firms want to give employees the best of both worlds, allowing them to work flexibly, but making their offices the best possible experience. This means delivering higher quality and more engaging workplaces.”

The report also indicated that over the next three years, 47% of firms will seek to improve the quality of the space they occupy, with 46% looking to improve the amenities available to employees within the workplace. 55% of respondents said they will create more collaborative spaces within their offices and 54% said they will implement desk-sharing or ‘hot desking’ over the same period, despite Covid-19 having largely prevented desk-sharing over the past year.

Some of the amenities being prioritized by companies include

  • On site food and beverage (65%)
  • Gym facilities (47%)
  • Cycle storage (46%)
  • Mental health facilities, such as sanctuary spaces (45%)
  • Click and collect facilities (45%)

Occupiers stated that the biggest frustrations with their landlords is a lack of flexibility (29%) and a lack of innovation in product or service offering (21%). This statistic highlights the need for landlords to invest in operations, property management and tenant services.

On the bright side, 60% of respondents said they had seen an increase or significant increase in communication with their landlord over the course of the pandemic. This has provided an opportunity for landlords and tenants to develop a more collaborative and partnership-orientated relationship for the long-term.