Andy Reid, Director – Intermediary and Network at Oblix Capital, considers the impact of a move to more flexible working patterns.

Whilst flexible working may have been tested as part of business continuity planning exercises, the current crisis has given businesses a real-world opportunity to see it in action. This has helped many recognise that it could open up new options for them, including a move to more flexible office space requirements. But what about the impact on people? If they are able to work more flexibly, will owners and tenants alike start to reconsider where they want to live?

People have different priorities

There have already been some predictions that people might start to move further away from the main employment hubs. Such predictions, however, suggest that the length of the commute is a key driver in choosing where to live. The picture is actually more complex than that, and those who live in cities and towns do so for many other reasons as well. For example, proximity to family, friends, community and schooling, and access to entertainment venues, sports team, a wide choice of restaurants, theatres and shops.

Could those that have moved towards the employment hubs for work-orientated reasons have a re-think? Could they take flexible working as an opportunity to return to their roots? Whilst the occasional journey into the office would be longer, many might feel this is a price worth paying – particularly if lower property prices or rental costs further afield would enable them to upscale, or live in a different type of property. Working more flexibly would bring its own requirements though – for example, working at the kitchen table may need to be upgraded to a dedicated office space, and good broadband connectivity and mobile phone signal strength would be non-negotiable.

It will be interesting to see if, and how, people’s priorities and requirements start to change.