So what are we gonna do with all these empty office blocks then?

Soldato
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(More of a thought provoking thread really, there are no answers yet and may never be, but it's certainly interesting!)

I work, and always have worked in the property management / maintenance game, so I'm fairly inside track when it comes to these kind of developments and discussions. It'll come as no surprise that many companies are feeling the pinch big time at the moment, with some simply not able to afford their rent. I'm not talking about that off licence on the corner, I'm talking about companies renting multiple floors of an office block. Compromises are being made left, right & centre, however the bills have to be paid at the end of the day so many floors are gradually becoming vacant, with no prospect of being rented out again any time soon.

On top of this there's currently an ongoing shift to people working from home as it's not only proven viable, but also much, much cheaper for companies as well as more convenient for workers.

I think it's safe to say that over the last year we've seen a paradigm shift take place which will affect the way we live our lives from now on.

This leaves us with all these empty office blocks and towers, are they going to be refilled with companies? Could these contribute towards the housing shortage and be converted in to flats?

It's certainly an interesting one to watch unfold. I wouldn't be surprised to see many high rise blocks here in London turned in to residences over the next decade, and with EU travel locked down thanks to the Rona and Brexit, we won't have such an influx of people, so demand will stay relatively the same whilst supply begins to grow.

We may even see house prices drop for a bit!

No intentions with this really, just wanted to blurt some thoughts out and see what the collective mind's view on it is.
 
Soldato
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Could be used in the short term as COVID inoculation centres.

Central locations, fitted out already with heating/lighting/AC/toilets/drinks facilities, large mostly open plan, lifts and in some cases lots of parking and importantly they are empty.

No idea on the legality and who'd pay for it etc but if they need places to use, these and hotels seem to be a good fit?
 
Soldato
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convert them into affordable housing to flesh out the btl market.

or just leave them until the inevitable swing back to office work when this is all over.

working from home might not be as bad as many companies think it is, but there is a lot of value to an office environment and i can't see companies letting employees wfh as much as they're being forced to with covid.
 
Associate
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Office block across from my office has recently been turned into flats. Quite decent ones from the pamphlet I saw. Developer even tried to build a 3rd floor during the conversion but was forced to re-install the roof they'd just removed because they hadn't provided enough parking spaces for all the flats.

As above if they could be converted for more affordable housing then the 2500 planned houses at the back of my town on prime arable land could be avoided.
 
Soldato
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With well over 6000 and rising illegal immigrants having crossed into the UK via just the Channel so far this year the government could secure some of them and put them in very basic accommodation until they can be expelled ...(Yeah, right, or until something can be done with them apart from putting many into nice hotels).

But generally we don't want more houses, we want less people, and Covid is probably not even matching the birth and immigration rates so far.
 
Soldato
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Where I used to live there were three office complexes that had sat empty ever since they were built in the 1980s, but people in the local industry asserted that the owners were still (don't ask me how) making money from keeping them that way. Whether it was a property price thing, as in buy cheap and sell when it gets high enough, I don't know... Maybe collateral, or a tax-deduction from another property?
I also note that the offices we used to rent (we previously owned them, then sold them, then rented them back) are still sat empty, too.

Whatever happens, I presume someone will always find a way to make it profitable, though.

As above if they could be converted for more affordable housing then the 2500 planned houses at the back of my town on prime arable land could be avoided.
Or they could just double down and do both... Whatever earns the council more money.
They're planning for 15,000 out the back of ours!
 
Soldato
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I'm hoping that it will encourage more companies to look outside of London. Personally, I wouldn't take a job in the city, regardless of the pay - and I mean regardless.

I've just no interest commuting into London.
 
Associate
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A paradigm shift is exactly right.

A lot of office blocks will have to be repurposed, somehow. Whether the structure is suitable for housing, who knows? I guess, given the number of old Victorian warehouses that got turned into flats, it has to be possible.

The other side is, if working from home becomes possible, will people still want or need to live in city centres? If not, will there be sufficient demand to drive conversion?
 
Soldato
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convert them into affordable housing to flesh out the btl market.

or just leave them until the inevitable swing back to office work when this is all over.

working from home might not be as bad as many companies think it is, but there is a lot of value to an office environment and i can't see companies letting employees wfh as much as they're being forced to with covid.

My employer (Big hardware/software vendor) is taking more of a hybrid approach. Most people have been shifted to the "WFH" bucket - basically anyone who works at a computer, with a select few staying in the "office" bucket - anyone who works on a production line, or has to work with hardware frequently. The idea is that anyone who is in the WFH bucket would be able to come into the office for 1-2 days a week for team meetings / collaboration etc. This will likely shrink the required footprint down to around 1/3rd of "pre-covid" office space.
 
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