It is no secret that Covid-19 has impacted the way that companies and their employees view office work. In some areas, the virus has had an impact on commercial property similar to the great recession of 2007 – 2008. Depending on your location, there may even be an increase in office space for lease.
Is this a Long Term Trend?
In short, no! As vaccinations are rolling out, most employees will return to the office. Even the “hybrid model” of working part time from home requires office space. In fact, some predict that office rental will soon become harder to find. We are creatures of habit that thrive when working together. Being able to go to the next cubicle or workstation and have instant communication is invaluable. Business owners know this, and workers know this. Therefore, business owners, and sometimes their Executives, are now strategizing on when employees will come back to the office. Google recently announced they were accelerating partial reopening of their offices. And Amazon made a similar announcement stating “our plan is to return to an office-centric culture as our baseline” with employees coming back to the office early Summer. This has caused business leaders throughout the world to start planning what the office layout should look like, post-covid. So what changes are being discussed and how could this affect the commercial leasing industry?
More Open Space
The whole idea behind more open space is how we can keep one another safe, via social distancing, while also being productive. This means cubicles could be a thing of the past and “workstations” (think of a workstation as a centralized hub for things such as conference calls) could be the new norm. Removing some walls and having more open space will also increase airflow and air quality. Not to mention, cleaning these types of office layouts will be much easier than individual cubicles which often go uncleaned.
More Sanitization Stations
If you have gone shopping the past year, you know that one of the products that were hard to find was hand-sanitizer and other bacteria-killing products. Thankfully, these are back in stock, for the most part, and are expected to play a bigger role in offices…not just in the restrooms.
One of the perks of working from home is not having to take your child or children to daycare if you are a parent. More and more companies are discussing ways to incorporate childcare within the same facility, or within close proximity, the parent is working at. Expect to see this used in recruiting efforts of employers as the cost savings alone is a great perk for an employee.
Business decision-makers are brainstorming different forms of schedule rotations, where half the employees will work in the office on Monday, Wednesday, Friday one week and then Tuesday and Thursday the next week with the other half of the employees on the opposite schedule (or some variation). This hybrid approach to the office will keep workers “fresh and more focused” say, experts. Not to mention also having a positive impact on traffic and climate! Can you imagine going into the office with half the cars on the road?
Technology is great and, in most cases, makes our jobs and lives easier. Now it will play a vital role in protecting us from Covid, and other sicknesses, as many believe you will see a trend toward more touchless technology incorporated in our work lives. From voice-activated devices to Infrared sensors (I.R.), the need to touch equipment or other people is reduced and, in some cases, removed completely. Your mobile phone, as long as it was made within the last few years, has the technology to scan you into buildings, parking garages, and make payments, all without having to touch anything or anyone but your phone.
Business owners are now looking to move away from one central Headquarters, where employees are crammed together, and instead, they are looking to open satellite offices. One example of this is the company REI. They have scrapped their plans to build a traditional “HQ” and instead are looking to open multiple satellite offices. Google is also joining in on this and calling their satellite offices “hub offices”. Many experts are now saying this will be the future in Silicon Valley, so expect others to follow the trend.
Previously popular by restaurants, mainly, business leaders are looking at ways to incorporate an outdoor setting with their office. This could be on the rooftop or perhaps a patio section extended off the office. Experts say that working outside reduces stress and helps with employee focus while allowing social distancing and more air circulation.
Is Now the Right time to Lease Office Space?
With the changes mentioned above, many relating to employees being spread out; that could mean that some businesses will have additional office space needs. This could cause a boom in the office rental business and make it harder to find office rentals, especially in popular areas, like Clifton Park, NY. Furthermore, restaurants are starting to reopen as well, and with the majority of restaurants operating under commercial leases, this will further increase commercial property occupancy.
With costs and leasing terms likely to go up, as demand increases, now may be a great time to start planning your business footprint and signing the office lease(s) before someone else does!