How the COVID-19 pandemic will change the location, design and use of office space

NEW ERA: The pandemic has created unprecedented opportunities and challenges for commercial real estate occupiers. Photo - Shutterstock.
NEW ERA: The pandemic has created unprecedented opportunities and challenges for commercial real estate occupiers. Photo - Shutterstock.

The future role of the office is the biggest question facing corporate real estate executives today. Even before the pandemic, remote-working was a growing trend particularly with new technology making working from home more productive.

CBRE Research recently surveyed 126 senior-level global real estate executives to determine how COVID-19 will change the location, design and use of office space.

According to CBRE Research, since lockdown, companies faced an unprecedented crisis.

After rapidly mobilising and closing their offices, global corporate real estate executives, in close coordination with company leadership, have risen to the challenge of cautiously beginning the reopening process with strict health and safety protocols.

CBRE's survey reveals a blend of cautious optimism with pragmatic concerns. Executives recognise that reopening workplaces during an active pandemic is an uncertain endeavor.

Here are the key findings from their research:

More flexible work is expected: 70 per cent of respondents indicated that some portion of their workforce will be allowed to work remotely full-time; 61 per cent of respondents indicated that all employees would be allowed to work outside the office at least part-time.

The physical office will remain important: 41 per cent said the importance of the physical office will decrease only slightly and 38 per cent said it will remain as important, if not more.

Cyclical portfolio adjustments are under pursuit: More than 60 per cent of respondents are pursuing lease renewals and more than half have relocation plans on hold. More than 85 per cent are optimizing their portfolios and more than 75 per cent have expansion plans on hold or canceled.

Long-term strategies are under consideration: 70 per cent are confident in setting long-term real estate strategies even amid the pandemic; fewer than one in 10 companies are considering leaving high-density urban cores; one-quarter are exploring suburban satellite strategies. 73 per cent of respondents expect flexible office space will play some role in future strategy.

The workplace is quickly changing: Most respondents indicated workplace transformation is still trending away from dedicated private space and toward shared collaborative space. This is critical for workplace efficiency and satisfying a more hybrid workforce (in-office and remote working) but there is some uncertainty given the health and safety impacts of COVID-19.

This story Offices will change after COVID-19 first appeared on Port Macquarie News.