It’s no secret that the pandemic has completely transformed the world of work. The reigning five-days-in-the-office week is over, and a new, more flexible framework is emerging—coming further into fruition every single day.
The commercial real estate industry has always been fond of jargon and technical terms, so it’s no surprise that we’ve already seen an influx of new words and phrases related to the “new world of work”; referring to everything from office types to working practices.
Having a good grasp of what all this new terminology means will be invaluable when navigating your company’s future workplace strategy. So, from CAT+ fit outs to on-demand workspace, below you’ll find the essential definitions you need to know, to ensure you’re ready to face the new world of work.
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Agreement to lease
An agreement to lease is simply a pre-signed agreement between a landlord and prospective tenant before move-in day. It contractually binds both parties to enter into the lease, either on a fixed, future date, or when all conditions set out in the agreement have been met. These agreements are usually used for brand new developments, where tenants sign for space in a building that hasn’t been completed yet.
“Amortising” the fit out
This means that any workspace fit out costs are spread over a company’s tenancy—one of the key benefits of managed office space (see below). When you’re in the process of moving office, the costs of a new fit out (e.g. buying furniture, building meeting rooms / tea points etc) can really rack up. When these costs are amortised, tenants are billed in manageable chunks—rather than having to pay for it all up front. This gives them greater control of their cash flow (which, in these changeable times, is more important than ever).
Category A, also known as CAT A, is a type of office fit out. Usually commissioned by the landlord, the property is delivered to the tenant with a basic finish. It will include power, electricity, heating, fire alarms and, in some cases, suspended ceilings and raised floorings.
This type of fit out typically attracts prospective tenants or buyers who’d like to come in and install a functional design entirely to their taste. From kitchens to breakout space, tenants get to decide the office’s layout and amenities. It’s worth noting that landlords usually require tenants to return the space to its original CAT A state once the tenancy ends.
A CAT A+ fit out means that the workspace is all set up and ready to go for when the occupier moves in. Completed by the landlord, it’s newly fitted with a workable design, so that tenant can move straight in without having to manage a fit out project. They’ll also face no dilapidations liability (requirement to return the building to its original state) at the end of their term.
Category B (CAT B) fit outs include everything you’d get with CAT A, such as electricity and raised flooring, but also all of the things that make an office fully functional and tailored to a specific company.
The fit out is instructed by the tenant, so will include features such as partitions, breakout space, furniture, meeting rooms and kitchens to their exact specification. CAT B properties also allow businesses to add the detail and flair into their workspace by including branded material and decor in the finish.
These are workspaces where employees can work alongside one another in a space specifically designed to facilitate teamwork and innovation—whether they’re a growing startup or a global business. These workspaces are typically made up of a mixture of meeting rooms and breakout areas spread out over several floors.
Covid clauses are provisions in tenancy agreements that offer protection for tenants and landlords should a ‘covid defined event’ arise. This means that if either the tenant or landlord is unable to fulfil their duties due to illness/shielding, delays, or government action (for example), they will not be in breach of their contracts.
Covid clauses also give both parties the flexibility to withdraw from contracts or delay a completion date without forfeiting their deposit, and will also allow suspension of the annual rent, if:
- to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19
- the government introduces rules whereby tenants are prohibited from accessing the property
In a nutshell, covid-secure workspaces are those that have taken the necessary measures to minimise the spread of covid. They will need to factor in three things; hands, face and space.
By mid-2020, 81% of the flexible office providers we surveyed had already implemented layout changes to allow colleagues to work at a 2-metre distance, and a further 75% had reduced seat density of communal and private offices. Covid-secure workspaces may also introduce daily antiviral cleaning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Hand sanitisers will be readily available in multiple locations throughout the building, and high-touch items and equipment will be reduced where possible. In the new world of work, office providers may adopt universal safety measures to ensure their buildings are covid-secure.
If you’d like to find out more about how London’s workspace providers propose to make offices safer for businesses, check out these survey results.
Coworking spaces are shared workspace where individuals and companies work alongside one another. They can be used by companies of all sizes—either by taking hot desk, fixed desks or private office(s)—with the main benefits being the flexibility, superb amenities and sense of community they offer to workers in all industries.
Looking for a new coworking space for your team? Search the UK’s largest online marketplace for flexible office space—including in locations such as Bristol, Oxford and Glasgow.
A Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Assessment is a risk assessment conducted for employees who regularly use devices with display screens for an hour or more each day. While the assessment sets out to evaluate any risks presented by an employee’s display screen, it also extends to their entire workstation. The DSE Assessment helps identify and resolve any issues caused by an employee’s office furniture, peripherals or general environment, including the lighting, temperature or noise levels.
UK Health and Safety laws require businesses to conduct a DSE workstation risk assessment for all their employees, whether in the office or at home.
At Hubble, we’ve launched the Hubble Home Working DSE Assessment: a tool designed to easily assess your team’s home working environments, produce DSE reports, and help you diagnose and minimise any risk—all with the view to keeping your employees happy, healthy, and productive.
Flexible office space
Whilst conventional leases require businesses to commit to an office for 5-10 years, flexible office space has much lower minimum terms, and is usually charged on a monthly rolling basis. Often serviced, this takes the hassle out of office management, simplifies costs into an all-inclusive monthly fee, and enables businesses to grow at their own pace.
Flexitime refers to any arrangement that allows employees to diverge from the typical 9-5, Monday to Friday working schedule. While employees may still need to work the same number of hours as they would traditionally, with flexitime, they’re able to adapt their starting and/or end time to fit their specific needs. This type of freedom has been praised for boosting the productivity, morale and inclusion amongst teams.
Fully-remote (working / teams…)
A fully-remote job means that an employee is never required to work from the company office. Instead, they have the flexibility to work from just about anywhere—abroad, a coworking space or a kitchen. As such, fully-remote teams, also known as distributed teams, can be made up of employees from all different locations.
Hot desking is a way for workers to access desk space whenever they need it. Rather than each employee having an assigned desk, all desks are up for grabs.
Until now, hot desking has been most frequently present in coworking spaces— where individuals and small teams purchase hot desking memberships, giving them access to any of the desks in a communal area. However, in the new world of work, hot desking is likely to become increasingly popular within bigger organisations too, as many choose to downsize their office footprint.
For example: a 200-person company may opt to take a 100-person office, which any employees can use as and when they need it. However, because they only have half the number of desks, employees will hot desk—choosing a free desk to work at when they’re in the office.
Before implementing a hot desking system within your own team, it’s important to check whether or not you have employees who have immovable equipment, like monitors or other heavy peripherals—as this way of working may not be suitable for them.
Hub and Spoke model
The Hub and Spoke model refers to an office distribution method that allows a company to have both a headquarters in a central location (the ‘hub’) and a network of private offices dotted around elsewhere (the ‘spokes’). While this isn’t a new concept, it’ll arguably be more prevalent in the new world of work, as it allows companies to give their employees greater flexibility in where they live and work.
The Hubble Pass allows businesses of all sizes to access hundreds of on-demand workspaces across 600+ locations worldwide (and counting!). With it, a company’s employees can access convenient workspace, on demand. It’s highly convenient and offers a cost-efficient solution to companies looking to implement flexible working practices.
A hybrid workforce is one that splits its time between three places: the HQ, the home and on-demand third spaces. It’s up to each company to decide what their own hybrid working practices are. For some, this may involve giving employees the choice to work where they want, when they want. Others may opt for a more structured approach, designating specific times and days for employees to be in the office—and allowing them to work remotely for the rest of the time.
A hybrid office is a workplace setup that reflects a company’s specific hybrid working practices. This may mean opting for a smaller HQ (or HQs) with access to a network for everyone, taking an office part-time or giving employees access to on-demand space when they need it, for example.
Leasehold / leased office space
Leasehold refers to the holding of a property by a lease, of which there are two main types; short-form and long-term leasehold agreements. Long-term leasehold agreements are ideal for more established businesses that are strategising for the next five to ten years. In contrast, short-form leases act as a flexible alternative, and terms can start anywhere from 18 months to three years.
Many leased offices come in CAT A condition (see above), which means that the tenant will take on the bulk of the fit out project. While the initial setup costs may be hefty, leased offices are typically more cost-effective in the long run, and businesses can reap the benefits of having their bespoke and branded workspace.
Sometimes referred to as a “bespoke” or “customisable” office, a managed office is one that can be tailored to a company’s requirements—meaning you can specify everything from the design and branding to the facilities and layout.
A managed office is an alternative flexible solution to a serviced office—similar in the way that it is managed by a separate party, paid for in a single monthly fee, and the terms are more flexible than a lease. The key difference is the freedom with which a business can tailor it to their exact specifications, and rather than pay per desk, the business pays for the amount of space they occupy.
Office providers with multi-location access allow their business tenants to access any of the workspaces in their portfolio. For some, this portfolio may be spread across one city—others may have locations all across the UK, or even the world.
Office timesharing allows businesses to have an office space on a ‘part-time’ basis—by sharing ownership, costs, and usage with other companies. It’s a flexible option where the companies agree on a schedule, and split the cost accordingly. This choice is ideal for businesses who would like a private office but don’t want to use and pay for it for 5 days per week.
Office-first is the workplace strategy adopted by companies who have decided that the majority of work will take place in the office. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that employers won’t permit any remote working, it does mean that the office will remain the primary workspace for these organisations.
Companies like Netflix and Goldman Sachs fit into the office-first category. Find out how other big names are planning to work in the future—and whether your organisation is more like Amazon or Apple—in this downloadable summary.
This refers to workspaces such as meeting rooms, event spaces, or desks that can be booked by individuals or teams as and when they’re needed.
Using on-demand workspace is hugely beneficial for companies who are keen to work remotely most of the time, but know that they will sometimes need access to these kinds of physical environments. It’s a cost-effective and hassle-free way of providing professional workspace to those who want or need the option to work from somewhere that isn’t their home, but not necessarily a main company office.
Remote-first (or virtual-first)
Remote-first is the type of workplace strategy chosen by companies who feel that remote working is not just a viable long-term policy, but the preferred one. To be clear, being remote-first is not the same as being remote-friendly—for remote-first companies, remote working isn’t just an option, but the norm—and all processes, policies, and systems will be geared around a distributed workforce.
Instead of having a permanent physical office (though some may choose to have a small HQ for employees to use if they need it), these businesses will often have a virtual one. Many will also opt to give their employees access to on-demand workspace (see above).
A rent-free period is precisely what it says on the tin: a period where the occupier does not pay rent. While this usually commences at the beginning of a contract, tenants may come across rent-free periods at other points during the term. Landlords typically offer rent-free periods as an incentive for a prospective occupier to enter into the lease or a licence.
A serviced office is a workspace that’s set up and ready to go from the day you move in—as seen in Leeds, London and Birmingham. In the new world of work, serviced offices are popular choices, as they offer convenience and flexibility to businesses of all sizes.
The office provider will manage all of the bills and utilities on your behalf, while also ensuring the building itself operates like a well-oiled machine.
Serviced offices tend to offer much more flexibility and shorter-term contracts than traditional private offices—a few months rather than a few years—which is great news for businesses who aren’t sure where they’re going to be a couple of years down the line.
A shared office is just what it sounds like; a workspace that’s used, occupied and enjoyed by more than one business. There are two main types of shared workspace: sublets (which we’ll get onto in a moment) and purpose-made coworking spaces.
The latter refers to office buildings and business centres that are designed for sharing in mind. Here, businesses can rent desks and share fantastic amenities, such as meeting rooms and breakout space.
Subletting is where businesses rent out their spare office space to others (specifically smaller companies) looking for workspace.
As well as having become a recognised strategy for businesses looking to generate extra income, it’s a logical option for smaller businesses looking for affordable yet professional workspace.
In the new world of work, many workers don’t want to be limited to working from just the office or home, but would also like the option to work from a third space: such as a cafe, hotel lobby, member’s club or even from abroad.
Video-conferencing enabled suites
Video-conferencing enabled suites are audio-visual workspaces that allow parties to meet digitally from across time zones or any other separate physical location.
A virtual office is a combination of address and communication services that replace the traditional office setup. These services include mailing addresses, remote receptionists and virtual assistants that’ll ensure your business’s smooth runnings. In short, they give you everything that a real office does, but without the hassle of managing the physical space itself.