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3 Changes We Might See in the Workplace Thanks to COVID

NAI Global | July 8, 2020


Everyone wants to know how the pandemic will be impacting the office space. While we’re still far from a clear picture of what’s to come, let’s explore a few possibilities that may be on the horizon for CRE’s office sector:

Redefining Flexible

What flexible meant before the market shutdowns isn’t what it means today.

Before, the term was thrown around to describe design elements that could facilitate multiple functions and be switched around in a breeze. But today, the industry is taking a more serious tone towards office flexibility that’s geared around the pandemic’s new realities.

Flexible will be applied to leasing as many companies are taking business one step at a time. Short term leases will prevail right now since the month-to-month outlook still remains hazy.

However, flexibility will permeate office spaces in the form of resilience. A contemporary flexible workspace will be one that has lasting standards in place to better handle future scenarios resembling COVID.

Less Space, Better Quality

Now that companies have experienced the benefits of teleworking for themselves, it’s clear that the need for office spaces is in question.

Big-name companies in the tech sector, such as Twitter and Facebook, have already announced that they will be embracing the WFH model for their teams spanning into the foreseeable future. With trendsetters like these paving forward, it will undoubtedly spark change in CRE office demand.

However, don’t skip out on an office lease so soon. It’s clear that office tenant demands will shift, but they won’t disappear completely. What we will see is a new kind of approach to physical workspaces.

As teams become spread out between in-office and remote situations, companies will likely be reducing their space requirements in exchange for better quality workplaces. Office leasing will probably be seeing tenants who are ready to renovate specially designed buildings to fit their new needs and dynamic team workflows.

Will Cubicles Make a Come Back?

Office culture has been desperately trying to separate from the outdated cubicle model of the early 20th century, but will COVID send us back in time?

While personal cubicles do offer an easy solution to social-distancing requirements, other options can reinvent this system with a 2020 spin.

This is where we may see WFH expectations shaping office design. During remote work, team members were at their own personal stations - but they were far from boring. We may see WFH inspired personal desk areas that are rooted in comfort, style, accessibility, and safety.

Listening, Learning, and Adapting

Jumping back into the office scene isn’t going to be easy.

Since the last time that teams came together in person, the entire world has quite literally changed. Re-entering the office will require some efforts to get the space up to speed for a lasting and secure operative capacity. But, there’s no clear direction that office space design will go - not yet.

As things are just starting out, expect to see property owners and tenants coming up with creative solutions across the industry. It will take trials, errors, and patience until the solid and fool-proof solution that everyone is craving is finally achieved.

Commercial professionals in the office scene should brace themselves for COVID-minded changes - because that’s the one thing that is certainly coming to office spaces around the globe.

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