What Is Hybrid Working?
As the UK cautiously comes out of more and more Covid-19 restrictions, the impact which the pandemic has had on the way organisations, businesses and individuals work has had a massive impact on how those entities will treat the workplace going forward, and in some cases it will accelarate changes which were already in the planning.
In simple terms, hybrid working means that going forward, employees and employers will have more flexibility in the physical location of where they do their work from, which for most people will mean that there will now be a permanent mix of working from the office (just as they did before the pandemic) and working from home.
What Do Employers Say?
In a survey conducted by the BBC in May 2021 of the UK’s biggest employers 43 out of 50 of the firms questioned said they would ’embrace’ a mix of home and office working with employees encouraged to work from home ‘two or three days a week’.
In another report covered by City AM, PwC discovered that only 10 per cent of the firms they spoke to indicated that the number of staff in their offices would return to pre-pandemic levels.
How Does Self Storage Fit In
Firstly, the shift to hybrid working will have one big effect – companies will simply not need as much office space as they have in the past. According to the PwC survey mentioned above, the UKs major employers are planning to reduce their office portfolio by as much as 9 million square feet.
The reason for this is obvious – there just simply won’t be as many people going to the office and needing to use the space. But what about their office furniture, archive documents, tools, IT equipment?
That’s where self storage can be a useful long or short-term tool. Many of the physical items which a firm houses in their offices alonside their employees may not need to be accessed every day (or every month) and indeed some items may simply be retained as a contingency. A self storage unit can be used to store these items rather than using costly office space to keep them. A self storage unit will be cheaper, and the terms will be far more flexible – but the benefits of easy access and security remain.
Secondly, a less obvious effect of people working more from home is that of housing market activity increasing. In the pre-pandemic times, it was not uncommon for many workers in the UKs largest cities to commute long distances by road or rail to get to their office or indeed for workers to feel the need to live in expensive city centre accomodation to be close to work. With the flexibility that working from home brings, many will feel they are now free to live where the want, and if they only occasionaly need to visit their office, that is a very different proposition than the normal 5-day-a-week back and forth.
Since May 2020, the number of people moving house in the UK has continued to grow, and furthermore, house prices are estimated to be 10% higher than they were in March last year. Research by TalkTalk suggested 40% of office workers have moved or have considered moving during the pandemic – feeling that they would prefer a smaller market town or rural setting if given the choice of where to live.
Self storage can be a vital tool when in the house moving process, and The Store Room’s Leicester self storage facility have reported that since the expansion of their site a month or so ago, there has been a definite uplift in house movers using self storage (for example when they are between properties or need to declutter), as well as good rise in business clients needing flexible space.
The pandemic has changed the world in so many ways – and hybrid working seems like it may be one thing that is most definitely here to stay.