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Addressing Edinburgh’s critical shortage of Grade-A office space

 It has been reported in recent months that Edinburgh is facing a critical shortage of Grade-A office space with predictions that business growth in Edinburgh could become stifled by lack of availability.

According to comments from JLL in a recent interview, we’re seeing occupiers with leases expiring as far away as 2028 searching the market for opportunities which might meet their ESG targets and timeframes.

So, you’ve spoken to all the agents and been to see just about every available space on the market and nothing suits your needs, what should you do?

You could just wait it out and hope that the market provides just in time, however if you are looking for a more proactive approach and one that avoids losing out to the competition, here are some suggestions that may help.

Figure out your exact needs in advance:

Working with a workspace specialist can help you to see potential in buildings and spaces that you may have otherwise written off. Thoroughly interrogating your office utilisation figures could help you to reduce the overall total square footage required by your organisation.

Research carried out post-pandemic by both Square Dot and the British Council for Offices suggest that with new ways of working and hybrid models of time split between home working and time in the office, ratios of staff to desks can be manipulated to make office space more efficient per square foot and improve overall productivity. This could mean that spaces written off for being either too small or too pricey could be back in the running, or that your existing space can be reimagined to remove the need for expansion.

Shifting the focus of your space from fixed dedicated desks to a range of spaces designed to promote collaboration and face to face interaction could allow numbers of desks to be reduced to ratios closer to 10:6 or 10:8 as long as utilisation at peak times is still catered for.

Actively create the space you need:

If there really isn’t a suitable space for your organisation to grow into, it may be possible to create the space you need through a joint venture. Speculative office developers and building owners may currently be reluctant to invest in new or existing office stock due to market uncertainty but through joint venture you could work together to create the type of space needed to fit your organisation’s requirements and ESG targets.

‘De-furbishing’ an existing building and retrofitting it with the latest energy saving and low carbon technologies could give you a space that is unique and tailored to your needs.

Alternatively, it may be possible to engage a developer early and negotiate a pre-let where you have input on the type of space required. This could be a good solution if you are looking further into the future for your office move.

Switch to a different office model:

With the many changes in the way we work over recent years, a range of different office models have sprung up in the capital alongside the traditional Cat-A offices. Managed office space, serviced offices, co-working space, and flexible workspace offer occupiers more choice in where to locate their business activities and the facilities offered to employees.

It may be possible to keep your organisation fleet of foot by moving into more flexible or short-term lease accommodation that can be adapted over time to suit changing needs. Furthermore, these spaces often come ready fitted out, saving you time and money on fit-out meaning you can get down to business sooner after your move. Again, a workplace consultant can help you decide if this is a possible solution for you.

Hopefully, with time, the Edinburgh Grade-A office market will resolve itself but for the time being, perhaps one of these suggestions could provide the solution to your future office needs.




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