Guest Post by Julian Cooper, Managing Director at Clarendon

For all the talk about how hybrid working models are the future of the workplace, much less has been said about how or why some businesses may not be able to immediately adopt the model.

That’s why we carried out a survey with UK business leaders and C-suite executives, as part of our white paper ‘A decentralised future: Is flexspace the answer?’, available on the CoreNet Global Knowledge Center.

We found that just less than one third of respondents were considering a change to their real estate portfolios. When we asked about the biggest barriers to hybrid and / or decentralised working, it became clear why that number isn’t higher.

Being locked into a long-term lease was the top reason given. While some companies have been able to make swift changes because they own their spaces, we must remember that thousands of businesses have leases and simply do not have the option of switching to hybrid working overnight.

Lack of experience was cited as the next biggest barrier. Businesses like law firms and banks have traditionally been less open to utilising flexspace, but that will change and already a number of major UK banks have confirmed that they will be changing to a hybrid model. As flexspace continues to grow in popularity, more companies will put that lack of experience aside and make the leap. Operators will also have an important role to play here in making new tenants feel at ease in their new surroundings.

We used this survey, along with in-depth industry research, to inform our white paper. One of the underpinning themes is that corporate real estate leaders have the unenviable task of devising a strategy that meets the needs of the business and its employees, which don’t always align. In fact, when we asked the survey respondents for their workplace priorities, the top answer was employee wellbeing and the second was financial security / reduced financial risk. That goes to show the balancing act of priorities that leaders are faced with.

As a result, a lot of businesses are still in “wait and see” mode – they don’t want to make rash decisions when we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and further lockdowns. But what we have found is that even with an appetite for real estate change, there are multiple barriers that can get in the way. The switch to hybrid will be a gradual one as businesses need to plan for and overcome these various barriers.

Julian Cooper is Managing Director at Clarendon