CEOs signal shift to hybrid home-office models and de-urbanisation

UK towns and cities will undergo an inevitable transformation as a result of Covid-19 with 68% of UK CEOs believing there will be an enduring shift towards low density office usage and 35% expecting a similar move towards de-urbanisation, according to PwC’s latest survey.

The CEO pulse survey results suggest that the consequences of home working are starting to fundamentally filter into long term thinking about existing office accommodation models, says PwC’s Simon Hampton. He explained: “Prior to the pandemic, we were already noticing a significant shift in the way people choose to consume – physical retail assets versus online, served via logistics warehousing for example – but with lockdown this home delivery trend has swiftly accelerated into food and perishable items with a new, often more elderly, buyer group joining the younger, tech-savvy generation.”

He felt it would be short-sighted of us to think it won’t result in different looking tow centres and suburban areas in the future.

CEOs are divided about what role cities will play in the future with a third believing the shift towards de-urbanisation (away from urbanisation) is enduring with another third believing it is temporary.

Conversations with UK CEOs also suggest that a new hybrid model is emerging with work being ‘something people do rather than a place to go to’. The survey shows that one in four CEOs (24%) are already prioritising digital adoption as well as making their workforces more flexible and smaller, a move that will enable them to be leaner and more agile.