More major businesses in the UK may look to local offices, serviced offices and collaborative spaces during the post-pandemic recovery, if they follow the strategy taken by one of the country’s largest financial services providers.

Santander have announced plans to introduce more flexible working conditions for around 5,000 staff, including a hybrid approach that combines working from home, with time spent working in “local collaboration spaces”.

The consolidation programme will see the bank left with six main offices in London, Milton Keynes, Sheffield, Belfast, Bradford and Glasgow.

In addition to these, thousands of employees will divide their time between local offices and homeworking, which Santander say reflects a desire found across their workforce over the past year.

Nathan Bostock, Santander UK CEO, said: “The pandemic has accelerated the existing trend towards greater flexible working, and our colleagues have told us this has brought significant benefits for many of them.

“At the same time, physical spaces remain very important and our sites around the UK will provide our colleagues with first-class facilities fit for the future.”

A shift towards local offices?

The plans resemble the Brooklyn model of small local offices described by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in a Politico podcast in February.

He told the politics site’s Westminster Insider podcast that in the New York City borough, more people are working from small local offices in their own neighbourhood, allowing them to avoid working from their own homes, without needing to commute a long way.

Santander’s announcement is a sign that major businesses in the UK are adopting the same model as we move into the post-pandemic recovery phase, partly due to demand from employees.

As well as allowing a distributed workforce to avoid a return to early mornings and lengthy commutes, more distributed offices are a sensible measure to manage a variety of pandemic risks.

They allow fewer employees to attend the workplace at any one time, reducing the likelihood of spreading an infection.

And in the event that an individual tests positive for COVID-19, there are fewer colleagues forced to self-isolate as a safety precaution too.

An increased regional presence

One benefit of operating from multiple local offices is the ability to establish a presence in numerous different regions around the country.

Santander’s six main offices after the consolidation programme will include premises at the bank’s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes, the capital city of London, as well as Yorkshire, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This connects with the trend of ‘north-shoring’ in which businesses look to open bases of operations outside of the south of England.

At the Serviced Office Company we are ready to support British companies who want to follow a similar strategy, with serviced offices in London and Manchester that allow you to set up in the south-east, the north-west or both.

The months ahead are uncertain but the trend is positive. If you are looking to establish a regional office structure to tap into local growth opportunities post-lockdown, contact us today to discuss our serviced offices in Manchester and London.

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