The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales recently announced that more than half of UK business directors plan to downsize their offices following the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst this might strike fear into the hearts of office landlords, the reality is that the new playing field could offer rich rewards for those willing to think outside the box. The most obvious two solutions are residential conversion or serviced coworking space.

As recently as August 2021 Permitted Development Rights changed to make converting offices to residential accomodation easier. Since that date commercial buildings considered Class E can now be converted to Class C3 residential use without planning permission. This trend was already apparent pre-pandemic with nearly half of all new homes in areas such as Harlow, Norwich and Trafford being former office space.

In terms of conversion to coworking space the most straightforward option is to let out large parts of vacant offices to flexible workspace operators such as WeWork or TOG. However, with Jones Lang LaSalle predicting that by 2030 30% of offices will include flexible workspace there is nothing to stop an entrepreneurial landlord from creating their own serviced office space with the right form of legal agreements in place.