My Column

Why office space is still the business.

  • Date: Monday 28th November 2022
column Picture

We all have our own passions when it comes to business. Find what you believe in and what you’re good at, then everything else falls into place. It’s a good lesson as an entrepreneur, and one I wholeheartedly agree with. And for me, that passion certainly lies within commercial property.

With the pandemic resulting in huge numbers of UK workers logging in from home, many within the commercial property market have inevitably been worried. Can an industry survive when there are offices lying empty?

But personally I’ve remained optimistic, and I don’t think that optimism has been misplaced. I’ve previously said here in this column that working from home could never completely take over working from an an office-based environment.

I don’t believe you’re going to get the most out of your workforce if they never benefit from setting foot inside an office, collaborating on ideas, working as a team, learning from their peers, or receiving the hands-on training and development that will help them grow your business.

Don’t mistake that for me being ‘anti-work-from home’. At the height of the pandemic it was a working model that provided a lifeline for many companies.

However, it is good to see that the number of Scots working completely from home has now dropped to its lowest since the effects of the Covid pandemic began to ease.

New figures, revealed in the Office for National Statistics’ Business Insights and Conditions Survey, showed that in the first fortnight of October, just five per cent of workers were exclusively working from home.

According to the survey of more than 1,000 Scottish businesses, the stats represent a gradual reduction in those only logging in from their own home, with 15.7 per cent recorded at the turn of the year.

In its place, we have seen a hybrid model of working emerge - where employees split their working week between home and the office - and the benefits can certainly be seen not just for staff, but for the towns and cities where their offices are based, with those businesses reliant on footfall beginning to flourish once again.

With the survey revealing that 28.4 per cent of large businesses will adopt hybrid working, nearly double the rate from the beginning of 2022, there is a real opportunity for Scottish companies to not only perform well digitally, but enjoy all of the benefits that in-person interaction can bring.

This sentiment was shared by former MSP and hybrid working expert Gavin Brown, who believes that “if Scotland gets this right by investing in hybrid technology and gaining the skills to capitalise on it, there will be considerable potential for growth and prosperity.”

With hybrid working on the up, along with numbers returning to offices in some capacity, the upward trend in demand for commercial property also continues to rise across Scotland.

Whilst commercial and industrial property supply in Aberdeen still outweighs demand, this is unfortunately not the case across the country, especially within Edinburgh.

A recent report produced by Ryden and global commercial real estate services, CBRE, found that there is a severe shortage of Grade A offices within the Capital, especially with sustainable credentials prospective occupiers need in the current climate.

This shortage is further highlighted with no new developments currently under construction and no new stock expected to be available before 2024. 

Just last week though. We recently saw plans launched for one of Edinburgh’s biggest ever workspace developments which, if approved, will feature the largest electric car charging hub in Europe. 

The ambitious proposals for Edinburgh Green would create more than 800,000 square feet of high-quality office space with a range of facilities, including a café/events space and new public park. 

According to analysis by BiGGAR Economics, the development would support an annual economic impact of £370 million GVA and 5,300 jobs in Edinburgh and £427m and 6,480 jobs across Scotland.

Those figures are certainly welcome and show just what suitable commercial property can bring to the country. With a buoyant industrial and commercial property market, the resurgence of our high streets and markets is surely on the cards. Long may it continue.


Staffing is so often the biggest expense for a business, so getting the right team together is paramount.

The Society for Human Resource Management predict that every time a business needs to replace a salaried employee, it costs the business 6 to 9 months’ salary in recruitment and training expenses.

For that reason, it’s important to remember the benefits of hiring from within your own organization.

Hiring time is reduced. Onboarding times are quicker because the employee already knows your business inside out. And you will already have built a trust and rapport with the candidate.

It also helps from a culture perspective. When workers see colleagues climbing the career ladder it reminds them what’s possible and brings encouragement, showing you are company that offers opportunities for growth.

I saw a recent example of this with Cala Homes in Scotland which publicised some big appointments based on hires from its internal talent pool.

The housebuilder announced Jennifer Wylie has taken the helm to head up Cala in Scotland as its Regional Chair.  She joined the company nine years ago as a legal counsel and has swiftly climbed the ladder to the top leadership position.

Similarly its newly appointed West of Scotland MD Gordon Craig, who joined the housebuilder a decade ago as finance director for Cala Homes West, is now heading up the West of Scotland region as its MD.

It’s a prime example of what can happy when you put the time and resources into nurturing your employees – you can help elevate them to senior positions and they in turn will help to you’re your business.

Simply put, invest the time and effort into training your team today, as they might just help you lead tomorrow.



After being awarded with his Outstanding Contribution to Film and Television by the Scottish Baftas, the speech given by Peter Capaldi certainly brought a big smile to my face.

He reckons the secret of his success was being lucky enough to be Scottish.

Thanking his parents, he said they’d taught him “the real Scottish virtues of hard work and sarcasm".

I have to say I’ve met many a Scottish business person who displays both attributes, recognising that amid all the hard graft, it helps to have a sense of humour too.

I’m sure Capaldi’s folks – who couldn’t attend the ceremony because they were short staffed in their chip shop – still managed a big smile and were proud as punch when they heard what he’d said about them.



The Ullapool Book Festival celebrates its 19th anniversary in May next year – but sadly it’ll never see it’s 20th.

The popular event – which have described on twitter as ‘legendary’ and ‘the best small book festival in Scotland – will be wound up next year as the organisers believe they’re getting too old to run it.

It was previously held at the same time as Ullapool's Loopallu music festival, which played its last tune in 2019, after 15 years.

It’s sad to see small but highly-regarded and long-established cultural events like this becoming untenable.

These vibrant celebrations are so important to rural communities and I hope we see more intervention to help futureproof events like this moving forward.



Back to column listings

Recent News

News Archive