The combination of rising office costs and new technology is turning us into a nation of nomads and battery hens, if research from property consultants Knight Frank is to be believed.

The report discovered that employers now allocate as much as 50 percent less office space per employee, and rely on flexible working and technology to make up the difference. In effect, they expect 50 percent of their staff to push off and work elsewhere, not at the office.

"Corporate occupiers don't see the need for so much space," said Catherine Penman, Knight Frank's head of research. "People are much more flexible in how they work - they can be online and accessible much more than they used to."

She said that the average office space per employee is down to 120-130 square feet, compared with a historic figure of between 140 and 190 square feet each.

The Knight Frank survey specifically covered the area within the M25, but Penman said that the changes are "to some extent Europe-wide - and global too.

"I think price is driving it," she added, noting that where staff costs were once the biggest concern, property prices have pushed the cost of office space towards the top of the corporate agenda. Occupiers are responding by using space more efficiently and "sweating their assets", she suggested.

It is not just the people that are under pressure - IT is also affected by the rising cost of property, added Julian King, commercial director at IT hosting company Global Switch.

One option is to switch to higher density equipment such as blade-servers, but these typically have higher electrical power and cooling costs as well.

The other option is to free up your city-centre IT space altogether by moving the IT somewhere else, such as a hosting or colocation centre, and accessing it remotely, King said.

"We're a property company ourselves - we own and operate buildings, but for IT," he added. "It's a question of fitness for purpose - you wouldn't manufacture in an office, so why put IT there?"