In our the second instalment of our interview with Greg Davison, we find out why the North East is such an attractive proposition as an office location and Greg offers some valuable advice for any organisation looking to relocate.

What are the most important issues occupiers should consider when acquiring new offices?

There are two key areas that occupiers need to consider, availability and the retention of talent and digital connectivity.

To most businesses, their people are critical and therefore the office needs to provide an environment that becomes a great place to work. Some of that will come through corporate culture, but the office environment and the surrounding amenity and sense of community can also inform culture.

With the cost of staff churn now being much more tangible, creating the right conditions to reduce that cost can have a massive impact on business efficiency.

The second issue is connectivity, how fast is the connection, how much bandwidth can you get, how resilient is it and how secure is the infrastructure.

Where do you see the office sector going over the next few years?

It is an interesting time to be asked that question. The Covid-19 pandemic is a global phenomenon and therefore its impact on how we utilise office space going forward will have a global momentum behind it, lead by larger corporate occupiers. If it was a UK only issue, I don’t think it would have the same impact.

Over the past few years we have seen occupational density increase, with buildings now being designed to a ratio of 1:8sqm/person. Whilst I don’t see that changing, I think the drive towards 1:6sqm will abate.

What we are likely to see that replaced with is a lower desk:FTE (full time equivalent) ratio. It is likely that where a business provided 8 desks for 10 FTE staff, they might reduce that to 6, increasing the space between desks and making circulation space more generous so as to increase social distancing as much as possible.

This will of course rely on greater adoption of flexible working practices, as not all of the staff can then be in the office at the same time, and of course the ability to do that will vary from business to business.

What will not change will be the importance of the office as a focal point. The need for social interaction and for collaborative working.

Where our region will perhaps benefit is that it is one of the most cost effective in the UK, so if you are going to spread out a bit more, it will be less financially challenging in the North East.

What does the North East offer as an office location for occupiers outside of the region?

It is interesting to see how the North East has started to attract a significant number of occupiers either expanding or re-locating their operations from London to our region. We have worked with several occupiers who have found the experience really positive, having perhaps initially faced some scepticism internally.

So with freedom of choice, why would our region not be considered an attractive proposition? There are few areas of the country where you can offer employees the ability to buy good quality housing,  to move around so freely with relatively little congestion, and yet work in an office environment equal to any other part of the UK and then spend the evenings (in summer at least!) and weekends enjoying the regions beaches and fantastic countryside.

Technology has allowed us much greater freedom geographically without the impact on our ability to communicate. The current lockdown situation has only served to underline that ability, and so whether your main HQ remains in London or not, the decision to locate at least part of the business here makes absolute sense financially, for staff wellbeing, talent retention and efficiency.

What is your best piece of advice for anyone looking for office space?

Employ a good advisor to guide you and ensure you are getting the best deal, not just focusing on the rent, but looking at the total package that best suits the needs of the business.

To contact Greg for more information on the office space currently available at Quorum Park, email him at: greg.davison@cushwake.com