Instead, he expects more use of contracted flexible workspace, combined with working from home, from a hotel, or a coffee shop. Deals announced this spring with serviced office giant, IWG, appear to point the way.
Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone has become the latest global occupier to agree a worldwide tie-up with IWG, allowing its 350,000 staff to use IWG space wherever they happen to be. The week before, Standard Chartered Bank agreed a similar deal for its 3,500 office locations around the world.
Rather than hub-and-spoke, we end up with a hub surrounded by a hazy penumbra of workspace solutions.
‘For the big multinationals, the kind for whom hub-and-spoke might have made sense, it now seems that all this model would produce would be an even higher reliance on real estate,’ says Clive. And a greater reliance on real estate is exactly what office occupiers do not want.
Clive expects the hospitality sector to pick up a lot of workspace-related business.
‘I think we’ll see more IWG-type arrangements, although perhaps not as many as you’d think because most of the hospitality venues, which people could use informally for work, are now closed. All that office workspace in cafés and hotels is not available. And when they are allowed to re-open, the cafés and hotels and other hospitality venues will really up their game.
‘When the economy re-opens, office users won’t be short of somewhere to work, whether it’s a pub or a coffee shop,’ he concludes.
Clive could be as wrong as anybody else – the future is, after all, a closed book. But he has a finger on the pulse of the office market, and a keen financial reason for making the right call.
If he’s right, it’s not hub-and-spoke we’re heading towards, but something much more diffused and complicated.