According to a recent report by RSM over 71 per cent of the business leaders surveyed think UK firms will encourage and so increase the number of their employees working from home in 2019 as a means to reduce operational costs.
Howard Freedman, partner and national head of real estate at RSM comments: ‘This year it seems businesses will put into action the need to not just ensure that working from home is accommodated for employees but also recognise it as a requirement through which overhead costs can be significantly reduced.’
The annual survey, entitled Real Estate 360, surveyed 250 senior executives operating in the field of real estate investment.
67 per cent of respondents said that remote working would lead to a reduction in the amount of office space required as the workforce continues to spend less and less time in the office, and more working at home or remotely.
The journey between home and work will also become more important. 42 per cent of those surveyed saw Government-led transport investments including Crossrail and HS2 as major catalysts for greater levels of investment outside of London.
27 per cent also saw changing working practices as a major factor in encouraging investment in the regions in 2019.
The survey draws into view the wider issues surrounding flexible working practices. Despite the perceived business case for flexible working, middle market businesses have been slow to react.
A separate survey by RSM in 2018 showed that whilst 70 per cent of businesses are ‘exploring the idea’ of flexible working, many have been slow to react and/or are only exploring parts of the wider benefits.
Carolyn Brown, employment law partner and head of client legal services at RSM comments: ‘Looking ahead, demand for flexible working will only rise. Today’s workers increasingly look for organisations that help them achieve a better work-life balance. As it becomes ever-harder to hire and keep hold of top-performing talent, offering truly flexible working arrangements will become a powerful tool to securing an organisation’s future talent pipeline.’
The survey also highlights how serviced offices and co-working will be the least affected asset investment class following Brexit. Only 9 per cent saw Brexit as a factor that would have a negative impact on the asset class. This further demonstrates the appetite in the market to invest in an area that will leverage changing work practices.