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Half of UK Landlords Believe Office Market is Falling Behind on ESG Policies

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New research exploring the state of sustainability within the UK office market, jointly commissioned by infinitSpace and The Instant Group, has revealed that the office market is falling behind on environmental policies. Key findings include:

  • Almost half (47%) of landlords believe the office market is lagging behind other areas of the property sector in implementing/adopting environmental policies;
  • The same number say they can’t ‘go it alone’ with 47% of landlords agreeing they need help in shaping environmental policies;
  • Meanwhile, 84% of landlords report a vacancy rate of 30% and above as average among their office building portfolio;

These insights, which come from a survey of 250 commercial landlords with offices in the UK, are the first to come from a new research partnership between infinitSpace, the creator of white-label, tech-enabled, flexible workspaces, and The Instant Group, the largest global marketplace for flexible workspace solutions.

The research, conducted independently by Censuswide, revealed a significant knowledge gap in the capabilities of office landlords to shape environmental policies with almost half agreeing that they need help. It also uncovered a pervasive belief that the workspace market is moving too slowly in implementing and adopting environmental policies with 47% of landlords believing the office market is lagging behind other areas of the property sector compared to 20% who do not.

The research also revealed the poor state of occupancy across UK offices, itself a major factor in the overall energy efficiency of a commercial building, as 84% of landlords reported occupancy as less than 70%, and 53% said their offices were half-empty or less. 

With all 250 landlords asked to identify the current adoption of sustainability policies in place across their office portfolio, the research uncovered a correlation between occupancy and level of sustainable practice. Of those with the most robust set of sustainability policies, 56% had offices with an occupancy greater than 70%.

Wybo Wijnbergen, CEO of infinitSpace, said: “I’m delighted to be partnering with The Instant Group on this important research project exploring the adoption of sustainable policies across the UK office market as well as the challenges landlords face in implementing them.

“As a sector, the office market is a large emitter of carbon and its transition to net zero will be essential in reaching the sustainable future the planet so desperately needs. But success will be dependent upon understanding and mitigating the challenges landlords face in improving the operations of their buildings. The research partnership we have unveiled today will go a long way to shedding a light on these challenges and where the sector must act. Expect much more to come, the first few results we have released today barely scratch the surface. The real estate sector can play a significant role in safeguarding the future of our planet – now is the time to execute.”

Related  infinitSpace Opens Second Netherlands Location Under ‘beyond’ Brand

A view of a sustainable office.

Sam Pickering, Executive Director of Sustainability at Incendium (part of the Instant Group) said: “The corporate sustainability landscape is rapidly changing due to the urgency of the climate crisis, stakeholder pressure, expanding regulations and consumer-driven transparency. The research partnership between The Instant Group and infinitSpace is a step forward for the commercial real estate sector to identify where key stakeholders can start to make a difference.

“Businesses must adapt – starting with landlords and asset owners. A genuine sustainability strategy requires data transparency in order to influence decision makers that can have a true impact on reducing carbon emissions. Our intention with research initiatives such as this one is to forge a strong foundation for sustainable outcomes for all.”

About infinitSpace

infinitSpace creates and manages tech-enabled white-label flexible workspaces on behalf of commercial landlords. It aims to empower human endeavor by bringing together local communities in world-class spaces that have customized curated services and high-spec technology. It operates its own flexible workspace brand – beyond – which landlords can choose to adopt for their own buildings. Alternatively, infinitSpace can create white-label brands and technology, allowing landlords to collaborate in choosing the exact make-up of their workspace.

About The Instant Group

The Instant Group has been rethinking workspace since 1999 with over 500 experts working globally across more than 175 countries. Instant’s digital platforms constitute the world’s largest digital marketplace for flexible workspace listing meeting rooms, virtual offices, flexible office space and coworking memberships. Its global team advises on commercial real estate solutions from serviced offices to fully customized managed offices, and consulting services for portfolio and net zero strategies. Instant’s approach enables agility, hybrid working solutions and improved operational resilience for more than 250,000 businesses every year. Clients include Prudential, Booking.com, Shell, Jaguar Land Rover and GSK. Instant has global offices including London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney.

About the Research

The market research was carried out by Censuswide between 24 February and 4 March 2023 among 250 commercial (office building) landlords in the UK. Censuswide adheres to the ESOMAR principles and complies with the Market Research Society (MRS) Code of Conduct, ensuring the highest standards of research practice and in the collection of data.

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