City giants look to move to the regions… and our towns must be ready

May 04, 2020

Milton Keynes should brace itself for an influx of big business looking to regionalise in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are entering a new culture of flexible working and regionalisation of office space.”

TOWNS and cities such as Milton Keynes must be ready for a mass move of large corporate headquarters from the big cities to more regional, lower-cost locations, says an office sector expert.

Milton Keynes has already seen some large businesses expand from London in an effort to tap into the huge pool of talent based in the city. The current mood is that City firms or those with large central offices can no longer justify the price they pay financially nor do the staff want to be there.

The big change during the Covid-19 lockdown has been home working, said Jonathan Ratcliffe, of office search company offices.co.uk. He believes that as office workers become used to home working during the lockdown and the potential for long drawn out restrictions continues, business bosses will see huge cost savings.

“Everything has changed,” Mr Ratcliffe said. “We are witnessing the biggest shift for a generation – huge centralised HQ buildings are the new dinosaurs. We are entering a new culture of flexible working and regionalisation of office space.”

“The opportunities for key regional centres like Milton Keynes is phenomenal.”

Jonathan Ratcliffe, offices.co.uk

Milton Keynes is in a key position to hoover up some of the major moves over the next 12-24 months, headed. When a key player like Barclays in the City announces that its office strategy is to downsize to smaller office spaces in the regions, it is a very positive signal for cities like Milton Keynes.

The big opportunity for Milton Keynes will be for office providers to react quickly to the demands from the huge corporations readjusting where they need staff. Milton Keynes needs to be ready for a large Central London business to suddenly decide over the next 24 months they are moving into several regional cities.

 But this may also be where the squeeze happens, Mr Ratcliffe warned. There may not be enough room.

“The opportunities for key regional centres like Milton Keynes is phenomenal,” he said. “You see huge corporates like Channel 4 move to Leeds city centre and law firms growing from one city to ten regional cities. They are chasing local talent, lower costs and a better overall quality of life for their staff.”

He foresees a post-coronavirus working week involving three days working from home, and two in a shared co-working space. “When you have international oil traders working from home in the countryside, you know location is not a problem any more,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

“Milton Keynes has a good supply of office space but if the predicted trend happens there might not be enough Grade A space available at short notice. The potential shift into the regions is huge and for Milton Keynes it is great news.”

by ANDREW GIBBS e: news@businessmk.co.uk

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