COVID-19 Back to Work Update
Office Space is Vital, but Reducations Being Considered
With COVID-19 vaccines in the spotlight, office building owners and tenants are carefully evaluating their return to work strategies. The good news is that in-person workspaces are considered vital to business operations — according to nearly three-quarters of respondent to a COVID-19 Commercial Real Estate Impact Study by BOMA International, Yardi Systems and Brightline Strategies.
The caveat, though, is that many tenants plan to reevaluate their space needs in the next six to 12 months. Will they reduce office space or shift it around to support pandemic safety measures? That’s the big question for office building owners in 2021.
The survey collected feedback from more than 3,000 office space decision makers during Q3 and Q4 of 2020.
Office Space: Reduce or Repurpose?
The study shows that 74% of office users believe office space is vital to the operation of their business. But, 61% say they will reassess those needs soon, while 19% are unsure. Out of that 80%, more than half (54%) say they will reduce their square footage.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said that they are personally comfortable with or supportive of returning to the office, but only 59 percent believe that their employees or colleagues feel the same way—an intriguing gap that hints at psychological projection.
Among the favored office space planning options are:
- Reducing office space set aside for common areas to make more room for private offices or cubicles
- Reducing the size of private offices or the number of conference rooms
- Adding hoteling or flexible space for employees who spend more time at home.
The good news for building owners is that more than half of tenants (55%) plan to renew their leases, mostly because they are happy with how owners have handled the pandemic. Many say that landlord communication is a driving factor.
COVID-19 Safety a Must
Looking toward the future, office tenants say they’re more likely to stay in a building that:
- Maximizes fresh air in the HVAC system
- Includes large, prominent disinfecting stations and
- Offers multiple disinfections per day using chemicals and ultraviolent wands
Despite a massive rollback in office space usage during the pandemic, the outlook for office building owners is not dismal as it once looked. While many employees and tenants may plan to work from the office less, they still see the importance of available collaborative space and distraction-free zones. Office building owners are hoping to see the resiliency of the office sector return in 2021 and beyond.
See this Commercial Property Executive story for more.