The market has remained in a state of flux this year with optimism and enthusiasm for the return to the office set against the challenge of navigating a raft of restrictions and national lockdowns.
As social distancing and WFH guidance was eased in late Spring, many companies began slowly encouraging employees to return to work.
The demand for office space began building momentum, particularly in the final quarter when we saw record demand as many businesses began trialing hybrid working models. This prompted new considerations around alternative workspaces offering quicker access, lower capital expenditure, and greater flexibility than a conventional long-term lease.
We have seen occupancy increase to 85% in our buildings – with more than 100k sq ft of additional Storey space now left, out of a total 345,000 sq ft across the portfolio – reflecting a renewed energy around businesses returning to the workplace and greater confidence in the economic outlook.
This uplift in demand has brought many new and interesting companies to Storey. For example, we welcomed adaptive behavioural analytics and software company Featurespace; Kyndryl, a technology infrastructure design and management company; London and LA-based influencer brand-building agency Genflow; HERE Technologies, a multinational mapping, location data and related automotive services provider and Itaú, Brazil’s largest private bank.
What’s more, we saw existing customers expanded their space within Storey too. For example, BAI Communications, a world leader in shared communications infrastructure, more than doubled their space to just under 10k sq ft at Paddington Central, after securing a landmark contract with Transport for London. Levin Group, a tech recruitment company focused on changemaking industries, tripled their space at Storey in Broadgate.
Across customers new and old we have observed their needs evolving. Storey Club has become more important than ever, with customers using it for in-person & hybrid meetings, town halls and product launches.
The boundary between conventional and flex customers has continued to blur, with Storey becoming increasingly important in conventional lease decision making, and sometimes embedded within a ‘package’ deal.
And the importance of high-quality buildings; well-connected, high-quality design, adaptable layouts, sustainable, underpinned by robust technology.
As the UK faces fresh concerns around the Omicron variant, and the impact of government WFH advice, the industry is now facing a new period of potential uncertainty.
But despite this, one thing we do know is that Storey has proved resilient throughout the pandemic. As we look ahead to 2022, we hope that new and existing customers continue to see the benefits of our high-quality flexible offering into the New Year and beyond.