By Daniel Hunter

Investing in new growth is now at the top of the agenda for UK businesses, with the country nearing full employment and occupied office floor space jumping 44% in 2014 in London, the biggest surge since the financial crash.

Research from leading property firm Cushman & Wakefield revealed that companies in London committed to 8.2 million sq ft last year, while relocating from 5.8 million.

The net growth of 44% is a significant increase over 2013’s growth of 33%. Media and technology companies lead the expansion, accounting for 37% of new space, followed by 27% being taken by the banking sector.

However, leading workspace utilisation specialist Condeco Software has discovered that average office workspace utilisation is only 38%, leaving companies investing in millions of pounds of premium real estate that routinely goes unused by staff increasingly out at meetings or working remotely. Research from HR company Robert Half recently revealed that flexible working has increased 37% in the last three years alone.

Paul Statham, Founder and CEO of Condeco Software, said: “The high level of employment across the UK reflects growing confidence from businesses that are eager to invest in new staff to expand their operations. However, they must ensure their workplaces are equipped to make the best of their new hires.

“Alongside new staff, investment in new workspace previously stood as one of the strongest indicators of performance, but with the fixed desk becoming increasingly irrelevant, aggressively expanding into larger office space is no longer a requirement for successful growth. With the UK standing as the most expensive office location in the world, it is vital for the leading global companies based there to ensure they make the most of every last inch of their facilities.

“We have found very few business leaders have any visibility of real time data on how their offices are used day-to-day. Most believe they have a high level of efficiency, but our research has found it to be almost half of the expectation. The huge disparity is caused by reliance on outdated manual surveys — clickers and clipboards — which are very time consuming and prone to inaccuracy, and provide no indication of the day-today use of the space.”