Property #Interview

Real estate consultancy firm Colliers recently published an article, drawing attention to the large share of leased offices in the Netherlands that are unoccupied. Even at peak times, one in three workspaces on average goes unused by employees. According to Colliers’ calculations, companies are leasing 2.5 million m2 in excess office space. Bad as this is from an economic standpoint, it’s even worse from a societal and environmental point of view. These are the conclusions of Colliers’ office market report. We learned more from Harold Coenders, partner and director of Occupier Services at Colliers International.

Your research shows that even at peak times one in three workspaces on average goes unused by employees. Colliers calls this bad business from both an economic and a societal perspective. Could you expand on that?

First and foremost, a workplace has to be a good place to work comfortably and productively. But office buildings are also a production resource, so that’s the economic perspective. Not many production resources are idle thirty per cent of the time. But even more relevant is whether, in terms of sustainability, we can afford to let thirty per cent of workspaces just go to waste. That’s a whole lot of office. Building offices and then not using them is really unjustifiable.

How can tenants optimize the use of their office space?

Simply put, by sharing or distributing use. Sharing means leasing the space you need, on average, and then renting flexible co-working spaces to accommodate peaks. Distributing use, means employees work in continuous shifts. That’s the norm in healthcare and industry, but still taboo for office workers. Yet simply implementing a schedule for continuous shifts provides an immediate solution to ensure peak occupancy and maximize use of the space.

Do these figures apply equally to Zuidas, or are occupancy rates different here?

These are national figures, so Zuidas won’t be a substantial exception. But because the part-time work factor is lower at Anglo-Saxon than at Dutch companies, the occupancy rate may be slightly higher in Zuidas.

Have there been any specific noteworthy developments in the Zuidas property market recently?

With all the new developments at the periphery of Zuidas, from the Van der Valk hotel to Loetje, Zuidas is becoming more interwoven with the rest of Buitenveldert and the city. Zuidas has become more than just the strip along Claude Debussylaan.

What’s your favourite spot in Zuidas, and why?

That would be Circl, the odd duck in Zuidas. It’s a beacon of sustainability in a sea of traditional high-rises. But especially because it’s more than just a building, with a topical and exceptionally good programme centred around issues of circularity and sustainability.