The commercial office is down but not out. As vaccinations of the general population are expected to increase exponentially in the coming months, many business leaders will have to begin deliberating and ironing out details for a return to the workplace.
How can a company make the transition seamless? What are some commonly misunderstood tropes? And will workers even want to go back to the office?
In tackling all of these questions and more, commercial brokerage Lee & Associates has offered a list of tips and guidance in a new report for a successful return to the workplace.
Tenants are still paying rent
One of the first themes highlighted is the sense that looks can be deceiving when it comes to the current condition of the office sector. While many workers continue their jobs from home for safety reasons and proper social distancing, tenant companies are largely still paying their bills. According to Lee & Associates, current rent collection rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels. “While tenants may not physically occupy the space they are leasing, they are profitable and capable enough to pay the rent,” the report reads.
Investors are bullish on office deals
There’s certainly no denying that the pandemic had dramatic consequences on the broader office market, some investors viewed the downturn as an opportunity. “While not on par with prior year-end totals, Q4 investment sales levels doubled from what we saw in mid-year,” the report details. “Investment volume in the top 15 office markets saw their levels either match or exceed their 2-year average.”
Don’t count out collaboration
“Zoom fatigue,” a new, much-discussed term and theme since the start of the pandemic is indicative of one major missing touch: collaboration. While working from home can have its benefits for employees and employer, direct engagement with team members is tough to recreate through endless remote meetings. Additionally, remote work can even be a hinderance for the careers of some. “Employees have discovered that working entirely in a remote fashion often leaves them out of the loop and distant from influential decision-makers,” the Lee & Associates report suggests.
Following the FAANG effect
Some corporate bosses are waiting to see how other leaders roll out their new workplace strategy. Software and tech companies dominated the office sector in many major markets before the pandemic, and have continued to ink major deals throughout the last year. Examples include major new construction projects by Amazon and Facebook in New York and Washington state.