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THE HIDDEN VALUE IN FLEXIBLE OFFICE SPACE COMPARED TO CONVENTIONAL LEASED SPACE

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THE HIDDEN VALUE IN FLEXIBLE OFFICE SPACE COMPARED TO CONVENTIONAL LEASED SPACE

Latest research shows just how much a business can save by choosing flexible space over a conventional lease in a major city, and the results are significant according to Instant Offices.

Proprietary data from Instant overlaid with recent data from Cushman & Wakefield cites Hong Kong as the most expensive place to rent office space in the world.  But, to rent a desk in a co-working space is almost three times cheaper in Hong Kong and almost two times less expensive in London.

Businesses Can Save Up to 73% in the World’s Major Cities

According to the data, the cost of occupying a desk in Hong Kong under a traditional lease arrangement is US$27, 432 per year. This is nearly twice the amount of any other city in Asia and more than 18% more than in London, its nearest global competitor. Instant’s proprietary data, collated from more than 20 years of flexible workspace listings, shows that in comparison, it costs just US$7, 607 per year to rent a desk in a co-working or serviced office space, saving businesses up to 73%.

In London, the average cost of renting a flexible workspace is US$11, 931 a year, more than half the cost (47% cheaper) than the total cost of US$22, 631 for conventional space.  The number of flexible workspaces in London grew 20% during 2017 with new centres opening up across the capital. This growth ensured that the market remained highly competitive, particularly compared to conventional space where vacancy rates are at an all-time low and space is at a premium.

John Duckworth, Managing Director of the Instant Group EMEA, said: “It is a commonly held misperception that flexible space, which offers shorter contract lengths and fully serviced offerings, can prove to be a more expensive proposition for a business. But, both the market data and our experience with clients entering the local market, has proven that flexible space is a viable, low-cost alternative.

“In London, we have one of the most mature markets for flexible workspace, but it is still evolving rapidly and in the last two years, in particular, we have seen a real diversity in the type of companies using this space and a wider recognition of its ability to provide a viable long-term solution.”

Flexible vs. Leased: A Comparison of Costs in Major Cities

Cushman & Wakefield’s research assesses occupancy costs per workstation for prime office space globally, taking into account all workspace costs.  Those costs are already included in flexible workspace fees per desk, so this allows us to undertake a like-for-like comparison of workstation costs in conventional space and its flexible alternative.

City Flexible Workstation Rate Conventional Workstation Rate % Difference
Hong Kong $7,607 $27,432 72%
London $11,931 $22,665 47%
Sydney $6,921 $11,997 44%
Tokyo $10,409 $18,111 43%
Singapore $5,873 $8,611 32%
Paris $9,724 $11,756 17%
New York $13,440 $15,931 16%
Munich $8,519 $9,784 13%
Beijing $9,974 $11,323 12%
Shanghai $6,574 $6,605 0%

Hong Kong is one of Asia’s more expensive locations for flexible space, even with the supply of space growing 19% in the last year, but it is still significantly cheaper than the markets of New York and London.  However, for businesses entering the Hong Kong market, the total cost of occupancy operates at a large discount in flexible workspace to that of conventional office space.

Tokyo and Sydney also show a significant saving for flexible workspace compared to conventional space, costing 44% and 43% less respectively.

Sean Lynch, Managing Director for Instant Asia Pacific, said: “Co-working has grown dynamically in the major cities across Asia-Pacific but the number of centres is still relatively low compared to London and New York. So, we would anticipate further growth in supply in the coming year, which will keep costs low.

“Of course, there are other mitigating factors such as location – and much of Hong Kong’s burgeoning flexible market is outside of Central – but when total office costs of occupancy are taken into account then the alternative appeal of flexible workspace is obvious.”

Deal lengths in London are increasing for flexible space, with 52% of deals in the capital now being offered for more than 12 months compared to 44% 18 months ago. Deals in London for more than 50 desks have also increased by more than a quarter year-on-year as larger corporates such as Ernst & Young, Microsoft, Deloitte and Accenture look to the flexible market for workspace solutions.

Which Companies are Choosing Flexible Space?

Of the six APAC Tier 1 cities highlighted in the Cushman & Wakefield report, the average conventional workstation rates all appeared higher than Instant data based on live information. Averages varied but in most cases, the difference was above 25% in favour of the flexible option.

While flexibility is a large driver for young companies and those looking to expand quickly, the market is seeing a huge surge in activity within the flexible market from large corporate customers. Microsoft is a well-known user of flexible office solutions, utilising WeWork to house large numbers of staff in both New York and London. But, more recently they reportedly obtained 500 spaces in WeWork’s Bengaluru office – this office in southern India has seen a number of high profile corporate customers including, SalesForce, Amazon and Facebook in recent years.

The rise of corporate use across Asia can be seen in a number of locations following on from increasingly high-profile moves. HSBC moved 500 people into Tower 535 in Hong Kong and Instant recently placed more than 1,000 staff for one large US corporate in a Kuala Lumpur.

“With reported flexible office average workstation rates now proving competitive if not lower than conventional space, a number of other advantages around flexible solutions are now starting to show their importance,” explained Lynch. “Lower initial investments and forecastable costs allow a business to invest more heavily in its core areas and allow its teams to focus on the business.

“There are other factors to consider such as the appeal to employees of more flexible office arrangements and a variety of locations to choose from.  This is particularly relevant in high growth, developing markets that are found in Asia where skilled, experienced labour is a valuable commodity and companies work hard to keep staff turnover low. It is also worth noting that there is less space per person in co-working space rather than conventional office design, but this is dependent on the relevant space configuration. But thus far this does not seem to have impacted the co-working of flexible space model.”

There has been increasing trend in the Asian flexible office industry for longer contract terms as companies see more value in the offering outside of its flexible terms. Of the deals Instant was involved in Asia in 2017, 7% were for rental terms above 18 months while during a similar period in 2016 this figure was just 2.4%.  This trend is in line with those we have seen in the more mature flexible markets in the US and UK.

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Exclusive: India woos Tesla with offer of cheaper production costs than China

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Exclusive: India woos Tesla with offer of cheaper production costs than China 1

By Aftab Ahmed and Aditi Shah

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is ready to offer incentives to ensure Tesla Inc’s cost of production would be less than in China if the carmaker commits to making its electric vehicles in the south Asian country, transport minister Nitin Gadkari told Reuters.

Gadkari’s pitch comes weeks after billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla registered a company in India in a step towards entering the country, possibly as soon as mid-2021. Sources familiar with the matter have said Tesla plans to start by importing and selling its Model 3 electric sedan in India.

“Rather than assembling (the cars) in India they should make the entire product in the country by hiring local vendors. Then we can give higher concessions,” Gadkari said in an interview, without giving details of what incentives would be on offer.

“The government will make sure the production cost for Tesla will be the lowest when compared with the world, even China, when they start manufacturing their cars in India. We will assure that,” he said.

India wants to boost local manufacturing of electric vehicles (EVs), batteries and other components to cut costly imports and curb pollution in its major cities.

This comes amid a global race by carmakers to jump-start EV production as countries work towards cutting carbon emissions.

But India faces a big challenge to win a production commitment from Tesla, which did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment about its plans in the country.

India’s fledgling EV market accounted for just 5,000 out of a total 2.4 million cars sold in the country last year as negligible charging infrastructure and the high cost of EVs deterred buyers.

In contrast, China, where Tesla already makes cars, sold 1.25 million new energy passenger vehicles, including EVs, in 2020 out of total sales of 20 million, and accounted for more than a third of Tesla’s global sales.

India also doesn’t have a comprehensive EV policy like China, the world’s biggest auto market, which mandates companies to invest in the sector.

Gadkari said that as well as being a big market, India could be an export hub, especially with about 80% of components for lithium-ion batteries being made locally now.

“I think it’s a win-win situation for Tesla,” Gadkari said, adding he also wanted to engage with Tesla about building an ultra high-speed hyperloop between Delhi and Mumbai.

India is drawing up a production-linked incentive scheme for auto and auto component makers as well as for setting up advanced battery manufacturing units, but the details are yet to be finalised.

Switching to cleaner sources of energy and reducing vehicle pollution are seen as essential for India to meet its Paris Accord climate commitments.

India last year introduced tougher emission rules for carmakers to bring them up to international standards. It is now looking at tightening fuel efficiency rules from April 2022, which industry executives say may compel some automakers to add electric or hybrid vehicles to their portfolios.

Battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry says it needs longer to make the transition.

Gadkari said he was not directly responsible for making the decision on whether to delay, but was confident India would meet its Paris treaty commitments without disrupting economic growth.

“Development and environment will go hand in hand. We will take some time but we will soon reach the international standard norms,” he said.

(Reporting by Aftab Ahmed and Aditi Shah. Editing by Mark Potter)

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Is it legal for an employer force an employee to have the COVID vaccine?

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Is it legal for an employer force an employee to have the COVID vaccine? 2

By Amanda Hamilton, CEO, National Association of Licensed Paralegals

Can you force your staff to have the vaccine before they return to work? Quite simply, no, not legally!

Despite the claims of some of the anti-vaxxers, there is no law in the UK which requires mandatory vaccination. The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 devolves powers to Parliament to legislate in order to protect UK Citizens. The law enables Parliament to intervene in an emergency situation, such as the pandemic, and impose lockdowns and restrictions to protect citizens, but it cannot impose mandatory vaccinations.

In other words, there is no power to make vaccinations mandatory. This raises a whole host of issues – from human rights to equality – and balances them against the rights of others to be safe in their workplace. In addition, it raises issues around the possible criminal implications of forcing someone to be vaccinated against their will.

Potential criminal implications: The Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 s20 states that an unlawful wounding would occur if a person were forced to have a vaccination against their will. A wound means ‘a break of the skin’. This statute still remains in force today.

Human Rights and Equality: Compulsory medical treatment or testing is contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights meaning that it is a human right to refuse medical treatment if you wish to do so. Refusing medical treatment could be because of deeply held religious or other beliefs, and this brings into play the Equality Act 2010. This statute states an individual is protected from discrimination from nine possible characteristics including: age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sex.

So, an employer cannot force an employee to be vaccinated. But can that employer dismiss an employee for refusing the vaccine?

Again, simply no. If they did, then it would amount to an unfair dismissal and the employee could justifiably take the employer to an employment tribunal for discrimination. The case would be brought under the Equality Act 2010 in that the claimant’s refusal to be vaccinated is founded on a fundamental belief or on religious grounds. It would of course, be for the claimant to prove that she/he has such beliefs.

And it would be exactly the same if the claimant felt that they were being victimised, because of their belief, to such an extent that they felt that they could not continue being in the employ of the employer, and consequently, resigned. This would amount to constructive dismissal. The result being the same as if the employer had dismissed the employee – an employment tribunal case could ensue for unfair dismissal.

So how on earth can an employer manage such a situation if there is a statutory duty to provide a safe environment for employees in the workplace? The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 places the responsibility on employers to protect the ‘health, safety and welfare’ at work of all employees and includes others on the premises such as temps, contractors and visitors.

This appears to be in contradiction to the premise that it is an individual’s right to refuse the vaccine. The only way to manage this is to impose certain guidelines on employees such as those we are all asked to follow during the current pandemic, e.g. social distancing, mask wearing and sanitising/hand washing etc.

It may also be prudent to find alternative work for the employee until it is safe for them to return. A reasonable solution such as this should be acceptable to an employee. If not, and the employee brings an unfair dismissal case against the employer for constructive dismissal on the basis of discrimination, then a Tribunal, hearing such a case would weigh up the rights of the claimant to refuse the vaccine, with the nature of the work they do, the alternatives offered to them, and how many others would be put at risk, if they were to continue in their role without vaccination. In other words, they would look at the situation and apply a test of reasonability.

Lastly, can an employer insist that their staff tell them whether or not they have been vaccinated?

If you can demonstrate that asking them to be vaccinated is a reasonable management instruction, then asking them for this information will also be reasonable. However, just as you can’t force them to be vaccinated, you also can’t force them to reveal their vaccination status. Again, equality laws will come into play if there is a risk that revealing their vaccination status will result in discrimination within the workplace.

If they do agree to tell you then this will constitute sensitive personal health data and you’ll need to comply with GDPR. The same applies to information about who has not been vaccinated and why.

Generally, the best policy is one of unambiguous communication. Explain why you’d like staff to be vaccinated and why you’d like the information about their status. Give them an opportunity to discuss this privately with you or your HR department, and look at ways to mitigate the risks and offer alternative working options.  This way you have done your best to provide the right working environment, have kept staff informed and engaged in the process and ultimately reduced the chances of a successful Tribunal claim.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Hamilton is Chief Executive of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit Membership Body and the only Paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its Centres, accredited recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for a career as a paralegal professional.

See: http://www.nationalparalegals.co.uk

Twitter: @NALP_UK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NationalAssocationsofLicensedParalegals/

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-hamilton-llb-hons-840a6a16/

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UK’s Taylor Wimpey sees recovery building in 2021 after good start

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UK's Taylor Wimpey sees recovery building in 2021 after good start 3

By Aby Jose Koilparambil

(Reuters) – Britain’s third-largest homebuilder Taylor Wimpey reported a strong start to the year on Tuesday and forecast a recovery in sales and margins in 2021 after a slump in 2020.

The group also earmarked 125 million pounds ($174 million) for fire safety work on its developments amid a nationwide drive to improve building safety following a deadly tower block fire in London in 2017.

The FTSE 100 firm said it expected to develop fewer affordable homes than usual this year, with a higher proportion of more profitable private homes, which would help improve its operating margin.

Its shares were trading 2.2% higher at 1000 GMT.

“The key news is that they are talking better on the operating margin for 2021, recent trade has been resilient … and all looks in pretty good shape,” said Canaccord Genuity analyst Aynsley Lammin.

Taylor Wimpey said it expected 2021 operating margin to rise to between 18.5% and 19% after it tumbled to 10.8% in 2020 from 19.6% a year earlier.

Britain is expected to extend a tax break on home purchases by three months and unveil a mortgage guarantee scheme in Wednesday’s budget, moves that could bolster the housebuilding sector after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled an exit plan from coronavirus lockdowns.

Taylor Wimpey, which has operations in Britain and Spain, joined rivals Barratt and Persimmon in setting aside funds to meet new fire safety regulations introduced after a deadly fire at London’s Grenfell Tower in 2017.

The group made pretax profit of 264.4 million pounds ($367 million) last year, down 68.4% from a year earlier and just below analysts’ average forecast of 267 million in a company-provided poll. Revenue fell about 37% to 2.79 billion pounds.

It resumed dividend payments, with a final payout of 4.14 pence per share.

($1 = 0.7202 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru. Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Mark Potter)

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