Business always plays out against a backdrop of national and international politics. Each inevitably has a far-reaching impact on the other. In few instances has that been more evident than following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union.
The way that commerce is conducted in Britain will markedly change. This, we were warned pre-referendum, could coincide with a property crash in London as businesses relocated to the continent. The question was: would Britain still be a worthwhile location to base commercial headquarters? In truth, London property after Brexit will largely remain a valuable commodity for businesses.
The real challenge for them, in view of the changing commercial landscape, is how one makes the most of that London space in the long term.
The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
The irony of repeatedly predicting a London property crash is, of course, that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Say it often enough and investors’ confidence will be most dented by that same prophecy, not necessarily by the vote itself or by their own calculations of its consequences. In reality, the undeniable challenges of the rebalancing in British markets will unlikely be enough to substantially dent London’s commercial property values, at least not in the long-term.
Leading real estate consultancy Knight Frank believes the “potential to flourish” remains strong. Their recent publication “The London Report – 2017” noted, for instance, the strong influx of capital into central London offices from outside Europe in 2016. This has contributed to total office take-up, in Q4 2016, reaching 3.6 million square feet – 14% above long-term average. Knight Frank sees London asserting a new growth pattern, “[harking] back to its day as the hub of the Commonwealth trade system,” and assuming a “Switzerland-type role as a safe haven to park money…against the unforeseen.” They also predicted a lesser “importance of the EU as a source of funds.”
Making London Property Work
However, in light of a broader economic outlook which remains uncertain – particularly while the terms of Britain’s departure are negotiated – it becomes ever more important for UK-based businesses to be as flexible and dynamic as possible in how they operate. That makes space an even more valuable commodity to the employees within a business.
The most modern of workplaces are relatively expansive and open. They are designed to encourage an easier, more outgoing form of working: a departure from the isolationist cubicle farms of the 1990s. These new ideals have most visibly manifested in so-called “coworking spaces.” Pioneered by multinational firm WeWork, the coworking concept has captured the imagination of entrepreneurs, startups and big business alike. A means of collaboration with like-minded innovators and engineering fresh ideas, the coworking plan has quickly spread across the world – with huge success. They are the template for London’s most productive future office spaces.
The Importance Of Using Space
There will be those who question some of the gimmicky offices of today, with their office slides, football tables and beanbag chairs. Their scepticism of those particular things is well-founded. However, such things are not what modern office strategy should be about. Modern office strategy is about recasting the workplace as an exciting, dynamic hub of innovation, rather than a simple roof over the head of employees. To make the most productive use of a space, users must be supported by its design and technology. The former of these can have a greater impact on workers’ mental wellbeing than many business owners may realise.
The latter’s effect, however, is more tangible and easier to gauge. When a building is supported by truly reliable, scalable network infrastructure, that produces a more consistent business output due to uninterrupted internet access. When employees may access data wherever they are, because it is stored in the cloud, that allows them to move freely around a space and interact – with colleagues and fresh perspectives around them. When unfettered communication is provided, for instance, through audio-visual conferencing, it allows business activity to continue regardless of who currently occupies the space. These are the tangible things that can truly add value to a London space for businesses, more so than its relationship with the EU.
It seems likely that some firms will partly relocate to continental Europe, if only for compulsory reasons. There will be certain financial operations, for instance, that cannot be legally completed outside the European Union. However, broadly speaking, it is how a business uses a London space that will define its value – not whether it chooses a London space or one elsewhere. Do not waste time fearing for the prospects of London property after Brexit. Think constructively – particularly in social and technological terms – about how to draw the best results from it.
Viastak work to support businesses looking to leverage technology, in order to streamline the way they operate. We believe in creating flexible, dynamic enterprises that are equipped to deal with the demands of the modern global economy. To find out more, please get in touch.
Written by Oliver Kiddell
Oliver Kiddell, Author at Viastak Technologists.