It’s fourteen months after the result of the EU referendum, five months on from the triggering of Article 50 and almost three months since the General Election. Only one of those political processes had a very definitive outcome.
We’re all heading back to work after the summer holiday season with, on a day-to-day basis at least, the prospect of business as usual until we know, for definite, what will change.
The atmosphere of ‘phoney war’ does figure but the sense of it waxes and wanes as the news headlines, intermittently, reminding us of the latest round of Brexit talks and the posturing of the negotiating parties move on to the next story.
Meanwhile, property agents are returning to their spreadsheets this autumn and looking to the final quarter of the calendar year of 2017. There’s some crucial number crunching to be done so we can all compile our reviews of the year and previews of what’s to come in 2018.
Nothing feels like it has changed since we did the same in the last quarter of 2016. In Cambridge, the squeeze on the supply of Grade A offices is still a concern, as is the development pipeline, and values remain robust. No change there, then.
No doubt there are some medium and long-term decisions being made by top-level investors and executives in the privacy of their corporate boardrooms. In the meantime, on the lower floors of office buildings the daily, short-term, business life goes on.
Asked recently if anybody was reconsidering decisions to make office moves, I had to answer, ‘No’. Not in Cambridge, in any case, but we are fortunate in operating here.
Established, world-leading Cambridge companies such as ARM and Darktrace continue to grow and require more space in which to do their growing. AstraZeneca remains firmly committed to its new headquarters at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Venture capital funded, University spin-out businesses like Cambridge Medical Robotics – among others – also need high-quality space in which to expand their business and from where they can profile to an international audience.
Past economic downturns have had a softer impact on Cambridge than on other commercial centres of the UK. Perhaps we have been protected here by having such an international business profile? The nature of pioneering, scientific R&D companies here gives them a different financial profile to other commercial concerns whose funding sources are not grant-related.
There are legitimate concerns of companies – and not just those in the R&D-led sectors - about the future status of their EU citizen employees which are matched by consideration of recruitment from EU states.
It may be that it is Cambridge businesses’ wider international reputation – beyond EU country borders – that will prevail and ensure the city’s continuing prosperity and growth.
Who knows? Until we do, it’s back to business. Although it does feel unusual given that, by now, many of us thought that a new post-Brexit business scene might have been playing out with more certainty.
For more information about office space in Cambridge, contact Ben Green, 01223 467 155, firstname.lastname@example.org.