'Office life will be back because people need it,' says Sheffield property expert

Yes people will work from home more, but no office life isn’t dead.

Thursday, 9th July 2020, 11:15 am

Not if you value your staff, according to one Sheffield property expert.

The pandemic has shown how huge sums can be saved by ditching the expense of buying or renting space.

But most workers need human interaction to combat loneliness and to feel like they belong, says Sheffield commercial agent Tim Bottrill.

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Wizu has three floors in 32 Eyre Street.

Left home alone, they quickly lose their sense of belonging to, and identifying with, the company that employs them. They could be working for anyone. Morale and productivity dip and they’re more likely to leave, he believes.

Mr Bottrill, of colloco, said: “There will be a better work-life balance, with people working from home more. But businesses will still need an office as the place to meet and for bosses to motivate.

“Zoom chats miss the tidbits of conversation, the comment, the chat. The power of being social is what makes us human.”

The pandemic will see some firms downsizing he believes. But the predicted wave of redundancies will spark start-up companies - many of whom will want an office.

Wizu reception.

That’s where workspace provider Wizu hopes to do well.

The firm held a party to launch its three floors in 32 Eyre Street a month before lockdown.

But the outbreak – which saw only essential workers continuing to come in - didn’t lead to an exodus of tenants, according to chief operating officer Natasha Babar-Evans.

In fact, two firms have signed since March, to take the total to 11, with two more in the wings.

Left to Right: FD Alison Guggenheim, COO Natasha Babar-Evans, Chairman John Guggenheim and CEO Tom Almas.

Some 60 per cent of their space is now spoken for and the company is actively looking for another building in Sheffield.

She added: “We conducted surveys and people said that although they could work from home, some have really missed the connection with other people.

“Once people are comfortable with returning again, especially commuting, I’m predicting growth for our sector.”

Wizu offers short tenancies, typically 12 months, compared to the traditional five or 10 years. It also encourages tenants to mingle and collaborate.

Tim Bottrill outside 32 Eyre Street.

Eyre Street has been adapted to be ‘Covid safe’. But there’s no guarantee the crisis is over, as a local lockdown in Leicester has shown.

Natasha added: “We are looking for a second site in Sheffield but it’s going to need an uptick in business activity first. My fear is we go into another lockdown and everything gets delayed.”

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Wizu launch party: Lord Mayor Coun Tony Downing cuts the ribbon with Wizu chief executive Tom Almas.

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