Authors

Emma Oakley

Partner

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Alexandra Richardson

Partner

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Matthew Swainston

Partner

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Alistair Watson

Partner

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Jo Joyce

Senior associate

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Authors

Emma Oakley

Partner

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Alexandra Richardson

Partner

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Matthew Swainston

Partner

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Alistair Watson

Partner

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Jo Joyce

Senior associate

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28 September 2020 | 59:00

The legacy of COVID-19: what's next for the office sector?

As Government tries to juggle encouraging a return to the office with a rising R rate our panel of Taylor Wessing experts chaired by Emma Oakley discussed the future of the office examining the role of data in creating a safe working environment; the coming of age of PropTech; whether the planning changes are really what they seem and the leases of the future.

  • Jo Joyce, our data expert highlighted what data can be collected and how; reassuring a workforce that their privacy will be maintained whilst ensuring compliance with GDPR obligations - no leniency is likely from regulators but fines may not be huge.
  • Alexandra Richardson, our PropTech expert highlighted the advances made in Proptech for the residential sector over lockdown and foresaw a bit of a revolution for PropTech in the office sector with tracking usage of a building to identify pinch points and allocation of cleaning and maintenance staff should an outbreak arise.
  • Al Watson, our Planning guru discusses the commercial ecosystem, zoom rooms and retailers' pop-ups; how the planning system was quick to move online during lockdown demonstrating its robustness; an increase in planning fees and whether the planning changes announced by Government really offer as much as they promise; and
  • Michael Swainston, our Landlord and Tenant expert examines what Tenants will do with their space – is it all about rationalisation or will there be a repurposing such as in the US with the conversion of out of town retail into office; will there be a move to a hub and spoke model and the future of the lease.

Key takeaways – Proptech can be ignored no longer; data collection will be key to a safe environment; the pandemic has accelerated change in the lettings market; leases are likely to become shorter with an emphasis on space flexibility; landlords are now service providers in addition to space providers; tenants will be looking for greener, smarter spaces and whilst Government and Local Authorities still require investment from third parties s106 agreements or their equivalent will be sticking around.

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