83% of 25-34-year-olds say quality of office will influence their next job

Firms that fail to upgrade lacklustre offices risk an exodus of young talent who are demanding plusher amenities in exchange for returning to the workplace, research by commercial property market experts Sterling Property Ventures suggests.

According to the poll of 2,641 UK office workers, nearly three-quarters (73%) of participants aged between 25 and 34 thought bosses should provide them with higher-quality office space in return for being asked to head back to the workplace post-lockdown.

The poll by Sterling Property Ventures, which is delivering 103 Colmore Row in Birmingham, the tallest office scheme under construction outside London, comes amid the resurgence of a fierce war for talent, with hiring in the capital, for example, topping pre-pandemic levels in recent months.

Sterling Property Ventures’ research also revealed that 83% of 25 to 34-year-old office workers thought that the quality of a prospective employer’s office would be an important factor in them choosing whether to accept or reject a new job offer.

London was found to be home to the greatest proportion of workers across all age groups who considered office quality as an important factor when choosing a new job (85%), followed by Birmingham (83%).

The capital also had the greatest proportion of workers who thought their current employers should upgrade their offices in exchange for being asked to return to their desks, with 68% calling for a higher-quality workspace.

London was followed by the South-West (64%), the North-West (63%), the East of England (63%) the East Midlands (63%) and the West Midlands (62%).

When asked what other factors would encourage them back to the office, nearly a third of respondents (30%) cited ‘better air quality’, followed by ‘communal and break-out spaces’ (24%), ‘quiet booths’ (24%), ‘close to transport links’ (24%), ‘high sustainability credentials (22%) and ‘professionally managed office space’ (21%).

The research comes amid an explosion of vacancies in London’s job market, with City giants leading the way, according to separate research.

Jobs in banking and finance in the capital are up 161% year-on-year, while insurance jobs are rising at 108% and software and development roles are up by 102%.

Legal roles were also up 92%, with Macfarlanes this month becoming the first City law firm outside the Magic Circle to pay newly qualified solicitors packages worth £100,000 per year.

James Howarth, Managing Director of Sterling Property Ventures, commented: “The debate about a return to the office has mostly centred on personal preference and the convenience of working from home.

“However, this research makes clear that employers who plan on encouraging staff back to the office over the coming months must be increasingly mindful of the needs and wants of their employees, who today expect first-class amenities, flexibility and a strong focus on wellbeing.

“As the war for talent intensifies in the wake of the pandemic, job-hunting is once again becoming a buyers’ market, meaning employers must – if they are not already – take stock of their current workplace arrangements to ensure they can continue to both attract and retain talent.

“In cities such as Birmingham, which historically has been constrained by a shortage of high-quality offices and shared space compared with London, the demand for new working models and higher-quality offices, will become even more pronounced over the coming years, and we believe that 103 Colmore Row is well positioned to meet that demand.”