As normality returns to the UK property market, the stability of its recovery is well supported in the medium term both by government interventions, such as the Special Duty Land Tax holiday, as well as resurgent demand, which had been pent up for many months over the lockdown. The outlook for residential assets remains positive, with long term growth forecast due to systemic housing supply shortages. These supply and demand imbalances impart upward pressure on house prices and accelerate demand in the rental market for those locked out of purchasing a home in the short term.
Commercial assets entail a greater degree of complexity and uncertainty, predicated on shifting norms and behaviours in the market. In the office space, the initial lockdown phase is now coming to an end, much like millions of children across the country are returning to school for the first time since March. Some workers are beginning to return to the workplace whilst others continue working remotely. This optionality poses both challenges and opportunities for businesses seeking to adapt to and prosper in these conditions.
At Strawberry Star, we have learned that many trusted colleagues are entirely able to work effectively from home, with significant productivity improvements in parts of the business and work-life balance benefits for many. But for others, our team has worked hard to mitigate instances of isolation and issues related to not having the appropriate space or equipment to work effectively from home. As we emerge from this crisis, it is critical to our approach to empowering employees not just by asking whether people can work from home, but rather who should work from home and for how long.
The global business community increasingly recognises that the office must continue to prove to be a compelling proposition for both employer and employee. Two fundamental attributes at the core of this office proposition are wellbeing and sustainability. From a wellbeing perspective, the office can be more well understood as a social space better-enabling collaboration, learning and development. These are cultural aspects which are difficult to achieve online and enhance employee career prospects through intangibles such as greater networking capabilities and interdisciplinary connections, made over lunch perhaps or in corridors, as well as constructing a team ethos built on interpersonal foundations.
From a sustainability perspective, the remote working phenomenon is not a new one with the ONS reporting that as of April 2020 nearly half (47 per cent) of people in employment did at least some of their work from home, rising from 30 per cent in 2019. An abiding trend in commercial, as this figure reaches equilibrium, will be a flight to quality office spaces founded on best-in-class workplace experiences underpinned by excellent services and amenities.
We are now firmly in Phase 2 of the greatest global workplace experiment: the phase whereby some workers are returning to offices of reduced capacity while many others are continuing to work remotely. This diverse and distributed work style will have a greater influence on the longer-term re-imagining of the workplace