As we are most definitely going to start reopening our offices gradually, companies are now obliged to ensure proper sanitation measures and impose social distancing as one of the main protocols, especially in smaller offices, where employee flow is thicker.
Employing these kinds of regulations, companies ensure that people feel safe in the workplace, but there’s still one concern to be dealt with: the commute to work.
Is The “Less Or No Commute” Era on Our Doorsteps?
Just imagine all those workers who are squeezing and cramming into confined spaces on mass transit to get to their work. It has been estimated that more than a third of employees take public transportation to work, and almost 70% of them are willing to seek other forms of travel after the pandemic.
In additional support to these claims, nearly half of the global respondents say that “less or no commute” is at the top of their list when it comes to being protected, and that this is the primary cause they are looking for remote business positions.
As companies evaluate their strategies for reopening their offices and landlords try to find the optimal way to satisfy the sanitary needs of their tenants, issues such as how will employees safely commute to their workplace begin to resurface?
Commuting Patterns Supporting Sustainable Real Estate
The decreased need for commuting is the most quoted benefit of working from home and causing the most concern on re-entry to the office particularly in those cities which are highly dependent on public transport. While a slower re-entry is most likely to happen in many of those cities, some important companies on the Coast are pushing through the benefits of cycling or walking.
Over the longer period of time in face-to-face interactions, it is expected gravitation toward centrally-located commercial urban centers and real estate for the offices, highly accessible and highly-amenitized offices. These factors and values will underpin the demand for urban real estate markets in the long run.
The final piece in the post-pandemic puzzle is indeed spatial patterns of office demand, but the economic opportunities, social connections, and quality-of-life are likely to prevail despite concerns regarding social distancing.
The forces of rearranged commuting patterns are already transforming our cities and businesses prior to COVID-19, and they will continue to drive change and boost office demand, reaching for more digitization and automation.
The spatial logic of our offices and wholesome building surroundings will evolve in response to digitization. New living and workplace preferences should become more sustainable and resilient in the future. The rise of the need for cleaner buildings and a more digitalized city region will gradually shift the spatial pattern of office demand, pushing forward a different and diverse office market ecosystem comprising three major elements:
- Rising demand for comfortable real estate in well-connected suburbs
- The increasingly multi-use urban core
- New clusters of innovation-based centers
Commuting Factors Shaping the Future of Office Demand
There are three key factors that will lead to a major role in shaping the future of our office demand, both short and longer-term.
It is yet to be seen how the implementation of these important amenities will continue to grow and become fully implemented and accepted, but new-age offices are becoming more flexible and fully equipped to deal with more work on their hands.
The Double-sided Remote Working
The benefits from remote work have been shown at their prime these last months, especially in terms of ‘no commute’ and flexible working hours. However, for many people, home living and working arrangements can be below optimal choice, with their limited space, lack of privacy, and/or more distractions.
Additionally, employees are starting to miss the social interaction that an office brings to their life. Maintaining productivity away from the office over the long term can also be hard, and it is more likely for an office to boost concentration.
On the other hand, the flexibility that remote work provides will be one of the key factors for employees to satisfy their balance of office and remote working.
Healthy and Smart Office Design
There are big speculations that COVID-19 is going to accelerate some changes in office design, and the one most evident is the occupational density. The upward trend has gone into sharp social distancing but once a vaccine is available, it is more likely to be a movement back toward socializing.
However, the reopening of offices will be followed by health and well-being choices remaining at the top of mind for occupiers. More focus will be turned on spaces that emphasize face-to-face interaction, redesigned or repurposed them away from individual, full-day occupancy desks.
Technology That Supports The Office Dwelling
Technological research and advancements are going to have a significant impact on the overall leasing demand. The adoption of new and easily implemented technologies will facilitate workers’ well-being and efficiency on their return to office buildings.
Over the longer term, employees’ demand for highly assessed and cleaner offices is expected to gravitate toward technology-heavy and smart office buildings. These amenities will largely reflect the ability of businesses to support environmental, sustainable, health, and wellness initiatives, therefore, reduced demand for lower-quality assets.
For more of these, and many other questions that might resurface in the moths to come, feel free to contact IPG’s team of real estate brokers – well-experienced agents in all the fields concerning transportation and logistics, site selection for your new office, or even the implementation of WELL certified protocols to ensure the future health of your workers.
We are here to help your business thrive in the upcoming years, refreshed, and more stable than ever.