Last reviewed 11 September 2020

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 according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) latest CEO survey.

The CEO Pulse survey looks at how business leaders have responded to the recent pandemic.

It found that over three-quarters of UK CEOs (86%) see a long-term shift towards remote collaboration while almost as many, 77%, predict an enduring shift from traditional human labour to automation.

According to Simon Hampton, PwC’s UK Real Assets leader, the results suggest that the consequences of homeworking are starting to fundamentally filter into long-term thinking about existing office accommodation models.

Conversations with UK CEOs also suggest, he went on, 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.

PwC said that this shift is backed up by real estate reports, which report a dramatic increase in house buyer enquiries outside London.

Angus Johnston, Real Estate Leader at PwC, said: “Our CEO survey highlights the many challenges facing the office, retail and even hotel sectors as they navigate this ‘new norm’. It remains to be seen whether office landlords and tenants can find new, more flexible models that make significant low-density space available on a basis that works commercially for both parties while retaining a strong city centre bias.”