Many offices remain closed, and employees have settled in for an extended and indefinite stint of working from home. And though some companies are only just realizing how much of their work can be done remotely, many workers are eager to get back in the office, at least some of the time. A recent survey by the JLL company Big Red Rooster found that 94% of employees want the option to return to a physical office, and that remote work should augment but not replace the traditional office.
So companies are facing the quandary of how not to waste money on office space when people are working from home most of the time, but also how office space can be available when workers want or need to come in. Enter the hub-and-spoke model.
“Many corporate occupiers are saying let’s have a downtown hub, and suburban west, east and north spokes, so that people can have their office close to their home if and when they want to go to the office,” says Sheila Botting, president for the Americas at the commercial real estate company Avison Young. A smaller central office may still stay in the downtown core, but it will be augmented by several smaller offices or a coworking space near where their employees live. Instead of leasing a big office building, or a whole floor, companies may start renting out smaller chunks of real estate that are spread across a broader geography.
Botting, who’s based in Toronto, says she’s seen companies such as Deloitte, KPMG, and the Bank of Montreal exploring their own hub-and-spoke approach. They’re not alone.