What will influence the buy-to-let market in 2018?

The start of a new year is always a good time for property investors to take stock and decide where their portfolio should go in 2018.

Living habits are changing, as are tenant preferences. These, along with increased government pressure for landlords to be much more professional, all combine to influence the UK’s buy-to-let sale over the next year.

Anyone thinking of investing in a property, or number of properties for the purposes of renting out, should be aware of the seismic changes in living habits and consumer preferences affecting where and how people want to live.

City centre living increasingly popular

People still want to live in city centre apartments, although tenants are increasingly demanding a different utilisation of space. They’re looking for more innovative ways to live, and are increasingly demanding that the quality of apartments is higher.

This essentially leads to tenants challenging the established norm of traditional one and two-bedroom apartments. The rental market for two-bed city centre apartments have historically been concerned with three different kinds of buyers:

  • Families and couples who need two separate bedrooms.
  • Older professionals who have more money and like to have two bedrooms.
  • People living together to save costs and because they can’t afford one bed accommodation.

The third category represents about 50% of people currently renting two-bed city centre dwellings. And it’s this group that is changing the most. Increasingly, they are moving away from two-bedroom apartments and looking for one-bed living spaces.

richard carr buy to let

While it has generally been the case that young professionals team up with friends to rent a shared house or apartment, today more of this specific demographic want their own space and are prepared to pay for it. In cities where demand continues to outweigh supply, there will be increased pressure on one-bedroom apartments.

City over suburb

Quality family housing has historically been in short supply in city centres, moving many larger groups out to the suburbs. However, as cities across the UK continue to invest in better leisure, commercial and entertainment facilities, more families are leaving commuting behind and embracing city living. This is upping the demand for three and four-bedroom town houses in city centre locations. We are seeing massive demand for competitively priced developments like this from a much broader range of buyers than before.

There has also been an upsurge in groups of wealthy young professionals and students who want to live communally, but in higher quality accommodation. For example, four young professionals happy to pay £750 per room can enjoy the high quality four bed town house that would rent to a family at £3,0000 per month.

These are the reasons that industry analysts are predicting that the UK’s top 20 cities will deliver price growth of 5% during 2018. This is compared with a prediction of 3% for the overall housing market.

New challenges for landlords

On the other side of the coin, away from the needs of the consumer, landlords are faced with new challenges. Accessing enough finance has become more difficult for man, following the government’s tax measures introduced in 2017. These are aimed at encouraging responsible, professional, incorporated landlords to buy into the rental market, and increase the quality of service for the UK rental market.

This has led to lots of private landlords incorporating their portfolios, so they can maximise the tax relief. However, the market has been slow to adapt, and many mortgages are available on far less favourable terms than before. Being able to access competitive mortgages is obviously key to the future of many UK investor landlords, and these changes have led to a bottle neck in completions across the whole country.

– Richard Carr

How design should complement the natural environment

Successful property design is about far more than just thinking about ROI (return on investment). No matter how stunning a building looks from the outside, it must also fit in with the local environment and complement its surrounding natural beauty.

When Fortitudo Property was tasked with creating a new vision to redesign the Salterns Marina in Poole, we worked hard to come up with the resulting design that also protects the natural habitat of the historic harbour area.

Salterns Marina – our vision

Richard Carr Salterns Marina

Salterns Marina

Back in 2014, the trustees of Salterns Marina asked us to provide a new vision for the entire site. It was the first major investment into the area since it was created in 1974. Although the trustees had received various redevelopment ideas over the years, nothing had hit the mark. They were generally considered too ambitious and out of keeping with the area and rejected. 

Our first idea was to replace the hotel, and as we worked our way through the outline of our vision, it became clear that substantial funding was needed. This could only happen by developing residential space. This led to our subsequent application for a brand new mixed-use building.

We were granted planning permission on this, and submitted a further application for the hotel to be in one building, and the Marina businesses and residential units to be in another. This was also granted, as it was a solution that would provide increases in domestic and business rates locally. The project value is £100 million and final approval was granted last June.

Improving the local area

As well as increasing rates for the local borough, the project will benefit other living spaces in terms of flood proofing. This is due to the £8 million going on a new sea wall.

Designing homes is always challenging. The team at Fortitudo Property takes pride in offering solutions that work for a market place where house prices rise faster than wages. We are always working for the best way to keep everything in balance – the investors, the people who will rent or buy the property, the area in which they are situated and the surrounding environment.

Extensive research is key

When we are working on a new plan, we don’t just inspect the proposed land. We take the time to research the surrounding community and the wider area. This research helps us to understand where future popular locations will be as well as consumer trends that dictate the future of the market.

The key is to create opportunities that people will love, before they’ve even realised that they need it.

Conserving local environment quality

Developers and designers must be committed to sustainable development. Housing and commercial property that is built today shapes our environment in the future. Well designed schemes should respect the landscape setting and the local environment.

Everything from the layout, form and shape of the development needs to be considered, as well as its visual impact on the surrounding area. Materials, colours and textures should complement development in the area. Also important is how the visual impact of the development can be seen from major rail and road routes.

With companies, developers, planning authorities and individuals working together, housing and commercial developments can maintain and enhance the environment.

 – Richard Carr

Richard Carr looks at what will influence the property market in 2018

richard carr 2018 marketIt could well be a better year for the UK’s property market as a whole, and particularly for tenants and first-time buyers. Various changes in government policy and an increase in construction projects look set to boost the fortunes of those looking to get started on the property ladder.

Here are the major factors that will influence the property market. It’s always worth keeping an eye on trends and economic changes, particularly for property investors. By staying one step ahead, investors can make sure that they are channelling funds in the most effective direction.

  1. Low interest rates

We’re expecting to see another 0.25 per cent rise in interest rates in Spring 2018, which will take the Bank of England base rate to 0.75 per cent. In real terms, this will add £22 to the average £175,000 tracker mortgage.

As more than half of all mortgage borrowers are on fixed rates, it’s unlikely that most homeowners will struggle with this rise. As the economy remains weak, the market isn’t expecting any further rises across the year. It’s likely that mortgages will stay cheaper, but as inflation is still hugely outpacing wage increases, they will still feel difficult for many.

  1. A rise in housebuilding

New home building has finally risen, with figures showing 217,000 new houses on the market in 2016-2017. This is up an impressive 20 per cent on the year before, but actually only brings the total back to levels before the crash. It’s also less than the 300,000 target set by the government.

If migration continues to fall as it has since Brexit, and we see more construction activity then it’s likely that housing supply won’t be such a big problem in the future.

  1. First-time buyers on the way up

As lending decreases for buy-to-let property, the outlook is brighter for first-time buyers who can expect to win out in 2018. Figures from 2015 show that landlords bought up 120,000 houses on buy-to-let financial deals, but according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, this should fall to below 80,000 over 2018

Higher taxes and restricted lending criteria are slowly moving the focus away from property speculators over to homebuyers.

  1. Stamp-duty changes will help developers

When the Chancellor abolished stamp duty for properties worth up to £300,000 bough by first-time buyers, it saved 80% of first timers up to £5,000. However, the Office for Budget Responsibility says that it will raise house prices by 0.3 per cent, and we’ll see this increase in 2018.

The help-to-buy scheme has also been given £10 billion of investment, which will provide financing up until 2021.

  1. Fewer rent increases for tenants

There have been many years of rent increases, but it looks like that’s coming to a halt. Average rents in the UK increased by less than 1 per cent in 2017, and decreased in London.

As salaries remain under pressure from inflation, it looks unlikely that there will be many real rent increases this year. The proposed ban on letting fees in the spirit of levelling the rental playing field, and banning unpredictable and unfair costs, will also be good news for tenants. However, it’s unclear when this will come into effect. There has been no date fixed for the introduction of the ban, but the government has said it will be at some point in 2018. 

  1. London’s skyline reach new heights

For buyers looking for premium property in London, there are plenty of skyscraper developments underway. One Nine Elms is set to change the London skyline with its 56 storeys during 2018. The first buyers will move in to the luxury property in 2019, with prices starting at £800,000.

While it will be London’s highest residential building will be quickly topped by the Spire. Located in Docklands, it will have 67 storeys comprising 861 suites. They’re priced at around £2 million as a starting price and will be finished in 2020.

Workplace trends to look out for in 2018

Wellness is on everyone’s minds as we come up to the New Year, with resolutions at home and work being made. Promoting employees’ good health, well-being and mental health should always be at the top of company’s agendas.

For 2018, there are various well-being trends and initiatives that employers can implement in their office space to promote the health of their staff.

Encouraging staff to move more

Richard Carr 2018 Office designThe majority of employees spend hours every day sitting at their desks. With 8 to 10-hour days common in many sectors, and with the pressure of deadlines and projects always looming, some people barely move from a sitting position all day.

There is plenty of evidence to show that a sedentary lifestyle can be catastrophic for future health issues, and is bad for the body, brain and mind. Obesity, depression, anxiety and joint issues are just some of the common health problems associated with sitting too long at a desk.

A simple and effective way to counteract this is to purposefully reduce the amount of time employees sit at a desk. Introducing sit/stand desks is an ideal solution, as it allows staff to vary their working positions.

Encouraging breaks away from the desk and allowing staff to migrate to different working areas can also be an effective way to deal with the problems of sedentary working. Furnishing employees with tablets and laptops increases their potential for mobility in and out of the office.

Allowing workplace naps

This seems unlikely to many people, as napping on the job is generally frowned upon. However, studies show that a 20-minute power nap can be hugely effective in increasing productivity and reducing stress levels.

Forward thinking offices are incorporating sleep pods, rest rooms and policies allowing naps into their workspace design. As with many initiatives, tech giants like Uber and Google are leading the way in these kinds of pioneering ideas to help employees work to their potential, and enjoy their jobs as much as possible.

Encouraging digital boundaries

The work culture today is one in which employees are constantly connected. It can feel difficult, if not impossible, to switch off smartphones and stop scanning emails at the weekend. Having blurred boundaries between work and personal time is counterproductive in many cases, and leaves employees burned out.

Designing office space with breakout areas free from computers gives employees the option to take digital breaks throughout the day. The design and layout of the office space can’t be underestimated in terms of encouraging better health and wellbeing for employees. Smart use of space and the creation of private, quiet areas in an open plan office can have huge benefits for productivity and workplace happiness.

Incorporate plants into office design

The health and wellbeing benefits of including greenery in the office are mounting all the time. Studies show that plants improve not only the physical health of employees, but also cognitive and psychological elements.

Research from Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life (Kellert, Heewagen and Mador, 2003) shows clearly that people who are surrounded by plants in the office space are more likely to experience the following:

  • Increased focus and ability to concentrate
  • Psychological and physiological stress reduction
  • More positively enhanced moods
  • Improved cognitive performance
  • Reduced perception of pain if in a healthcare setting
  • Reduction in mental fatigue

Providing healthy food options

Many offices have vending machines or snack options for employees needing to quickly refuel during busy work times. However, the food on offer is often processed, full of sugar and bad fats. All of which provides only a short term burst of energy and can be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing.

Employers can now work with innovative businesses all around the UK who are working on creating healthy options in vending machines. Incorporating something as simple as healthy, preservative-free snacks for employees will improve mood, concentration and endurance.

– Richard Carr

Predicted rise for UK house prices in 2018

Property experts Rightmove has predicted house prices will rise across England and Wales by 1% next year. However, they also point towards a decline of a further 2% in London in 2018.

Annual price report

Richard Carr house price increase 2018The website’s annual market report says that the price falls in London will be more than offset by the increased value of small and medium tier homes around the country. Rightmove says they list a huge 90% of properties sold by estate agents across the country, and use this data to analyse trends.

Average asking prices for a home in England or Wales currently stands at £302,865. This is 2.6% lower than November 2017, but an encouraging 1.2% higher than December 2016. An average increase of 1% would be the lowest annual increase since 2011’s rise of 0.8%.

First-time buyers

Rightmove analysts expect that the kinds of properties that will increase the most (3%) next year are those typically bought by first-time buyers. These are generally two beds or fewer starter homes.

Second tier homes (three or four bedrooms, not detached) are set to increase by 2% over the same time period.

Last year’s predictions

In December 2016, Rightmove said that national prices would rise by 2% in 2017. While they did increase (by 1.2%), they weren’t totally accurate. They also predicted that prices in inner London would fall by 5% – they actually fell by 4%.

This year’s predictions match another report from estate agent Savills, which also predicted in November that average prices would rise by 1% in 2018. They also said that the market in the UK has proved “stronger than expected”, as they had suggested it would stagnate.

Mixed pricing pressures

Analysts at Rightmove further estimate that next year will continue 2017’s trend of being a mixed bag of pricing pressures. The result will be further slowing of the pace in price rises.

Price rises peaked in 2015 when they leapt 7.4%. The next year growth more than halved to 3.4%.

Regional asking prices

The average asking price for first time buyers outside of central London is £190,310 (that’s 3.5% higher than 2016’s figure). North Eastern England had the highest price inflation this year, rising by 4.7% and was the only region where prices didn’t fall in November.

Camden is London’s most popular borough, with prices rising by more than 19%. The second biggest price rise in London is Newham by 9.8%. Just a mile away from Camden, Islington saw prices fall by 10%.

In November, Savills predicted that the north-west will experience the fastest price growth in the country over the next five years, at 18.1%. They also predicted increases of 17.6% in the north-east and 17% in Scotland.

– Richard Carr

Property agents must adapt business models for changing times

It’s not surprising that, in a world that is changing fast, many business sectors are having to fundamentally change the way they work. And the property sector is no different.

With the rise of fintech (financial technology) and proptech (property technology) where start-ups are disrupting traditional ways of selling property with new products, it’s a case of adapt, innovate and change – or be left behind.

Major trends for the property sector in the UK

The State of the Nation report by ZPG, owner of many consumer-focused online platforms, including uSwitch and Zoopla, has identified four major trends for the sector. These trends are forcing changes in the traditional business model for high street property agents, and are having a big effect on reshaping the market. They are:

  • The rise in online agents.
  • Changing consumer expectations and demands.
  • Shifting economic outlook.
  • Government regulation.

The rise in online agents

Richard Carr house purchaseTen or more years ago, just 20% of people looking for a new property used online portals. Today, that figure is more than 70%. The continued rise in online property searches mean consumers are increasingly seeing the benefits of searching and selling online, particularly as fees are generally lower than the high street agents.

Traditional estate agents have higher costs, in part due to the number of staff and the physical offices they need to pay for. This often means it’s impossible to compete with the fixed-fee, low cost online agents.

To try and tap into this market, and differentiate themselves from the old way of working, many agents are investing in new online and offline services and products. These range from responsive websites, customer login portals to online chat. Investment, innovation and speed is necessary to encourage people to buy.

Changing consumer expectations and demands

Consumers expect speed, transparency and instant access to their property transactions. More than 30% of consumers want more support for the entire process of moving, and more than half want better value for money from their agent.

Consumer expectations are changing, as are buying behaviours. However, so are the kinds of solutions that property professionals can offer their clients. Innovation and technology offers new ways of engaging with customers to increase future business.

Shifting economic outlook

The research showed that one of the main concerns brought up by agents is the UK’s economy. Just over 60% said they feel unsure about the economy, up from 43% in 2016.

Consumers are also concerned, with only 31% feeling confident in the economy. As people start to make moves to spend less money, many are also postponing moving to a new house until Brexit is settled.

Government regulation

Yet more reports, legislation and consultations have been announced by the government. These are likely to have a big effect on UK agencies, with many working out ways to mitigate them. A big focus is the government’s new lettings fee bill, which will likely cause problems in the lettings industry.

How agents should adapt

All of this means agents must utilise technology and new products to offer more interactive, comprehensive and communicative support throughout the entire consumer journey.

Increasing marketing, offering flexible fees, being more available and giving clients access to ore information with both online and offline services are steps that every agent should take.

 – Richard Carr

How the south coast property market is changing

Showing yet again that the property market is withstanding the economic uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations, the student housing market in particular is booming.

JLL (corporate investment property experts) predict that the student housing market will account for £1 in every single £10 invested in commercial property by the end of the year.

Student trend replicated in south

Figures and projections show that this student housing investment trend is echoed strongly along the south coast of the UK. Thanks to growth plans from major Higher Education institutions, demand for student housing is rocketing.

For example, the University of Southampton is rapidly expanding, leading to a growth in PBSA (purpose built student accommodation) developments and investment in existing stock.

Private rentals increasing

Richard Carr Cornwall small

As well as the student housing boom, Southampton is also seeing a rise in private rented sector (PRS) and co-living housing developments. Investors are buying blocks of property in order to buy-to-let the stock to students and private renters. In doing so, they’re benefiting from rise sin rent and value.

Major cities across the UK have seen this surge in the student housing sector, but it was previously concentrated in the largest. Places like Bristol and London have seen investors snapping up plenty of student accommodation. The rise in investment in smaller regional cities like Southampton show that it’s an enduring and growing trend.

Restrictions lifted

Part of the reason for this upward student housing investment trend is the decision made by the government that resulted in restrictions on student numbers being lifted. This has allowed universities to hugely expand their plans to attract more students, and there has been a rise since 2016 of more than 2% in applicants from overseas (outside the EU).

The accompanying massive increase in student fees has also helped to fuel huge investment across this sector. All five main universities in the south of the UK have experienced similar surges in student housing – these are in Bournemouth, Portsmouth, two in Southampton and Chichester.

Other predictions

JLL also predicted that there will be a seismic change in the way new property along the south coast will be built over the next ten years. They believe that new homes will increasingly be produced by modular building.

The UK’s construction landscape is rapidly changing, and modular buildings are becoming more popular with contractors, developers and architects. They are revolutionising the way that houses are built in this country.

Why choose modular building?

Modular buildings (also called prefabricated buildings) are constructed from multiple pre-made sections, called modules. Each module is made in a factory before being taken to the building site where they’re connected and assembled to create the final structure.

They’re made with traditional building materials, such as wood, steel and concrete. While this form of building might conjure up ideas of temporary structures, its practical uses stretch far beyond this.

Where can modular building be used?

Modular building can be used to effectively and economically construct long term and permanent buildings across a range of different sectors, including housing, hotels and industrial facilities.

They’re cheaper to construct, much faster to build, environmentally sounder and can be reused and repurposed in many cases. Expect to see many more in new developments across the UK, and along the south coast.

– Richard Carr 

How can we fix the UK’s housing problem?

One of the biggest news stories from this year’s Autumn Budget, announced by the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond earlier this month, was that first-time buyers are going to be given a leg up on to the housing ladder through a major change to the rules on stamp duty. The Chancellor announced that the Government will abolish stamp duty on homes under £300,000 – a move that could have a huge impact on many people who are trying to purchase their first home.

Great news then – and the kind of boost that the housing market clearly needs. But, we’d argue that there is much more that still needs to be done to make housing affordable for the vast majority of people in the UK. For us, the far more fundamental problem lies in our country’s planning laws – and a system that has allowed land prices (particularly for land with planning permission) to spiral out of control. So, how can we start to fix the UK’s growing housing problem?

Time to free up our planning laws

At present, 90 per cent of our country’s population lives on just 9 per cent of the land we have available. This situation means that there is a huge amount of potential space there that simply isn’t being used. Prices on the little land that is available to build on have skyrocketed, and this cost is then passed on, at the end of the chain, to buyers. The south of England suffers particularly badly from this problem, where land can sell for up to £2m per acre if it has been granted planning permission.

Smarter development

So, we have a situation where we have the space to build new properties, that are affordable for those who need them most – but a system exists that isn’t allowing the market to take advantage of this. This isn’t about building in sensitive areas, or losing our nation’s valuable green space – instead, it’s simply about increasing the amount of space we have available to build on. If land prices go down a little, as a result of more land being available on the market, it should lead to more affordable house prices for buyers, as the cost of land makes up a considerable proportion of the sale price of a new house.

Too many properties sitting empty

There is also a huge opportunity to use more of the houses we already have available. Across London alone, over six months in 2016 there were 19,845 homes sitting empty – the equivalent of £9.4bn-worth of property, at current London prices. Of course, London and the south east aren’t the only culprits, and indeed many of the local authorities in the Midlands and the North make up the areas with the highest number of empty homes.

Richard Carr housing issuesThe Government and local councils have done a lot of work in this area to reduce the number of houses sitting empty, in particular by reducing the tax advantages of leaving a property unused. As a result, there are some bright spots – not least Manchester, where they’ve seen a huge fall in unused homes in the last ten years – dropping 88% to 1,365 properties.

Ultimately, the housing problem this country faces is a complex issue, with a growing population in an ever-diminishing amount of space. Yet the potential is there to fix many of the problems, though a smarter approach to planning laws that make it easier for developers to build affordable homes, and a renewed effort by all parties to free up the housing stock we already have.

– Richard Carr

Do the Chancellor’s stamp duty reforms go far enough?

Stamp duty will be scrapped immediately for first-time buyers of homes below £300,000, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his Budget. Richard Carr asks does it go far enough?

The change, effective immediately, cuts stamp duty for most first-time buyers in England and Wales. For years, stamp duty has been just another barrier to homeownership, another cost to overcome, but with this exemption the path is being made a bit easier.

Stamp duty scrapped for first-time buyers on homes below £300,000

It’s welcomed by many but has its critics – with young people saying that the ability to save a deposit is also a factor for ‘generation rent’.

Housing was billed as one of the key themes of the Budget and the Chancellor promised the next generation that getting on the housing ladder would not simply be a “dream”.

The Treasury said it amounted to an average tax cut of £1,600 for a million first-time buyers over the next five years. But the measure was quickly called into question by the Office for Budget Responsibility which said it would push up house prices by around 0.3 per cent, with most of the increase happening in 2018. Rates vary across the UK – in England, Wales and Northern Ireland it kicks in at £125,000 and in Scotland at £145,000.

Package announced to boost housebuilding

richard carr building-joy-planning-plansHe also promised a wide-ranging package to boost housebuilding, setting a target of an annual 300,000 homes built by the middle of the next decade.

The Chancellor pledged £44bn capital investment and measures aimed at getting building projects started. Cash for house building will include a £630million small sites fund, £2.7billion to more than double the Housing Infrastructure Fund, £400m for estate regeneration, £8bn of new financial guarantees to support private house-building and an additional £34m to develop construction skills.

Among the £44bn package is a pledge to make it easier for councils to build in areas of high housing need.

Mr Hammond also threatened to intervene with compulsory purchase orders if landowners and developers are found to be holding back on building “for commercial rather than technical reasons”.

He said: “Solving the housing challenge takes more than money, it takes planning reform. We will focus on the urban areas where people want to live. Building high quality, high density homes.”

Will this help ‘Generation Rent?’

While Wednesday’s moves were broadly welcomed, many said that it would not provide enough support to make a marked difference to younger generations, who’ll still struggle to get on the property ladder.

The focus on bridging the housing generational gap lies on the all-important saving up for the deposit. The issue of housing supply and price is important, but looking at measures to support ‘generation rent’s’ ability to save a deposit is crucial.

– Richard Carr

Does workplace design matter to millennials?

Research shows that a much greater role is being played by office aesthetics in the recruitment of young people.

Richard carr millenial office designThe millennial generation (usually defined as those born between the early 1980s and the early 1990s) are changing the way the world works in many ways. Their expectations of technologically advanced solutions to everyday issues, such as banking, buying property and shopping, has led to the rise of Fintech (financial technology) in banking, Proptech (property technology) in the property sector and Regtech (regulatory technology) in the compliance and regulatory sector.

In addition, there has been a rapid rise establishing the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. While these are all widely considered disruptive and obvious game changers in the world of work, the millennials are influencing rather more down to earth aspects of the corporate sector.

Changing expectations

A study by global market research firm IPSOS has recently shown that the expectations of young employees have changed in terms of their working environment. The research shows that the design of the workspace and aesthetics of the office are extremely important when it comes to recruiting the best young talent.

The research surveyed a wide range of adults over the age of 18, including those who work in an office. It particularly aimed at finding out what has the biggest influence on employees when they first come across a company.

Generational shift

There has been a distinct shift generationally, with younger employees caring much more about the feel and look of their workplace in comparison with older generations:

  • Office design: 76% of millennials (defined as aged between 18 and 34) reporting feeling somewhat or very strongly that office design and aesthetics does influence their thoughts about a company. Only 39% of employees aged over 55 said that they cared about their office decoration.
  • Design upgrades: 70% of office workers in the survey reported a wish for a design upgrade of their surroundings.
  • Location of office: Just 41% of employees over 55 reported caring where an office is located, while 70% of millennials said that they do.

First impressions do matter
While it could be argued that most people are influenced by first impressions when they come for a job interview, millennials are more strongly impacted. They indicate in the survey that they could walk away from a job offer based on the surroundings that they would be expected to work in.

Make your workspace inviting

There are various steps businesses can take to ensure their office space is more comfortable, inviting and inspirational for potential and current employees:

  • Customise spaces: different departments and teams should have their spaces adapted around the way they work. For example, employees in HR may need personal offices to manage information, while creative departments such as PR & Marketing could work better clustered together in areas that make it simple to communicate and collaborate. This can involve simple partitions and an imaginative use of office furniture, or an office redesign to install more private and team work spaces.
  • Be flexible with open plan: since the surge in popularity of open plan offices, there have been many benefits for communication and collaboration, but there is a negative side effect. A large open plan area can be extremely noisy and distracting for people who need to concentrate, or for groups that need to have meetings. Utilising portable wall panels to close in smaller spaces can help to alleviate distractions and act as a barrier to noise.
  • Get green fingered: a study in the Netherlands found that a 15% increase in productivity was measured when employees were surrounded by green plant life. The introduction of plants to an office has been found to slash absenteeism in half and help to reduce minor illness. This is a simple, cost effective way to boost your office design, improve the health and motivation of employees and create a pleasant and stylish atmosphere.
  • Create an active space: research has shown that sitting for long periods can increase the risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Employers can use all sorts of options to make the work environment more active. Standing desks and adjustable work tables are a good option so that employees can change between sitting and standing throughout their working day.