A glimmer of hope in the current pandemic emerged recently with the announcement of a breakthrough in the Covid-19 vaccine trials. However, we are still some time away from the vaccine being administered widely to the public in the UK.
With office workers now being used to working remotely, it is unclear how many will return to their offices when the risk of the virus is lower.
A survey by Institute of Directors this autumn found that nearly 74% of company directors surveyed expected increased working from home in the post Covid-19 world. More than half said their organisations were intending to reduce continued use of office space. But at the same time, some occupiers are looking for more space and redundant retail property is being repurposed.
As others at Maples Teesdale have previously suggested, offices will continue to be used, but their appearance and set-up may be different to what we are used to at the moment.
An increase in demand for science enabled workspace may be just the factor to boost diversity in city-based office space. Life sciences contributed £74bn to the UK economy last year but the space equipped to host the sector is limited in city centres. In London, for example, such space is said to be limited to 90,000 square feet.
This statistic is not entirely surprising. In the UK, science enabled workspaces were traditionally reserved for business parks, such as Abingdon Business Park in Oxfordshire.
Investors and landlords interested in attracting life science tenants by repurposing their existing offices need to consider the technical requirements of science enabled work space. Some locations may be more suitable than others; for example, building vibrations need to be monitored and minimised. The other big consideration is planning consent.
Repurposing urban offices for life science tenants may not come cheap but the long-term return may well prove worthwhile.
Increasing demand and undersupply means we will see more activity to deliver science enabled workspace.