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The role of office space is not decreasing, the requirements of the working environment are changing

Office space with a desk in the middle and greenery on the right-side wall

All of us - as employers and employees - have adapted to the situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic; a daily routine has been established, and new habits of where and how we work have been strengthened. This allows us to make a decision and start making qualitative changes to the work environment.

With the onset of the pandemic, and remote work, companies did not know what to do with regard to the office and whether it would be needed in the future and what size, as well as whether to stay in the existing premises or change them. Even later, decision-making was delayed as there was still uncertainty about the future, regarding whether people would want to return and work in person. On the other hand, now that the company's doors are open for employees, clients and partners again, it is clear how many people come to the office and how often. Therefore, there is an opportunity and time to decide on the future course of action and work model.

When less is more


For example, if more than 30% of employees do not show up at the office every day, even if this indicator increases, it will hardly reach the current 70-80 or 90% - probably, in the future, significantly more people will not work in person; therefore, even assuming a reserve of office space, there is an opportunity to reduce the area, while at the same time investing in quality. In general, there are very few offices that are organized according to the new demands of the work environment that are now dictated by conference calls. It's still basically open-plan offices where ten, twenty or more people sit, and even if only a few of them talk to someone online on Zoom or MS Teams, it will disturb others, so many choose to stay and work from home. Therefore, companies that want employees to come to the office more often should consider reorganizing the office, investing in the appropriate functionality and solutions.

One of the reasons currently preventing companies from changing to better and newer premises is the unstable situation in the field of construction - costs have not yet stabilized. If the company previously wanted to move to, for example, a 1,000 square meter premises, it paid a conditional amount of x euros; now it may require 1.5 x. At the same time, perhaps 600 square meters would be enough for the company now, because not all employees are in the office every day. Basically, if the company qualitatively plans the work environment, its area and functionality, then the costs for the new office can be comparable to those previously budgeted and the company will be able to afford new premises. In addition, they will be of higher quality than the existing ones and meet modern needs.

By moving to new premises, companies can increase operational efficiency, or even reduce costs. Riga's office space fund is getting old - most of the buildings were built 10 or even 15 years ago. Utility costs in them are usually quite high both in summer and winter, while the microclimate is not always optimal. Therefore, by considering the possibility of moving to a smaller office, but in a newer, higher-quality, more energy-efficient building, the company can save or, for the same cost, get much better premises that are healthier and more attractive to employees.

And now is a favorable time for such a step - several high-quality buildings are being developed in good locations in Riga, and the choice is quite wide. Over time, even the owners of older office buildings will have to consider renovating, increasing energy efficiency, and developing internal infrastructure. Such examples of improved existing projects are already appearing in Riga, which complement the offer of the office market, making it more diverse and accessible for various opportunities and needs.

In general, despite all the challenges and volatility, the Riga office market is active - several developers are moving their projects forward and a large number of companies, which are concerned with the issue of a quality working environment, are no longer ready to wait.
 

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Olga Mihailova

Associate Director | Office Agency & Workplace Advisory

Riga

I have joined Colliers International  team in September 2016 and started my professional journey  with office segment  Landlord Representation within brokerage department. Currently I am supporting office cleints - both Landlords and Tenants, helping them to make best out of their premises.

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