Office building common spaces changing in a post COVID-19 world

commercial real estate Aug 04, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has uprooted and changed our lives, including how and where we do our jobs. With lockdowns starting to loosen around the world, the challenge now lies in how to adapt to the new normal post-COVID-19. Including how we will work and what these environments should now look like.We don’t know what the future will bring. There's no vaccine in sight and millions of employees working from home. The one thing we know is that we won’t be able to resume our pre-virus office lives any time soon, or possibly ever again. Many companies are starting to shift more towards the home office model. Twitter’s CEO has given employees the choice to work from home indefinitely. Many commercial real estate owners are becoming concerned as to whether tenants renting office space will leave. This will force them to renegotiate rent to avoid companies finding new offices or working from home full time.

6 Feet Office

With these new changes, organizations will have to plan how to adapt workspaces and offices for those who returning. It will most likely include accommodating fewer people and being able to distance from one another socially. Commercial real estate company Cushman and Wakefield have designed an office, available to public viewing via an online office tour. Their employees can keep the recommended distance of six feet, named the 6 Feet Office. The office is a conceptual idea, helping companies adapt to the new normal. Including, color-coded flooring to tell you where you can and can’t walk, and desks that encourage people to spread out.

Common spaces

Common spaces were designed based on trends for open, high-density areas and collaborative team-based workspaces. In light of our new reality, we can expect to see a reversal of these in favor of a densification hiatus. Leading to the possibility of many companies being forced to find new offices, renting office space elsewhere, or renegotiate rent terms. Some long term changes that we can see in commercial real estate in the future include:The addition of outdoor spacesOutdoor spaces have been beneficial for employees to get some fresh air, sunlight, and to improve productivity. Now there's an added incentive for these areas to be included in buildings. Providing space to allow for social distancing for employees, and visitors during an office tour.Reassessed floor plansAltering building forms is something we will see a lot more of when it comes to office designs in the future. It will help de-densify spaces permanently, and provide a more hygienic and spacious environment.

Emphasis on automation

The focus has turned to touch-less technology to avoid spreading germs and bacteria around from individuals to various surface areas. We can expect to see more of this technology throughout office buildings and spaces, resulting in a contactless office. Examples include hands-free light switches, voice-activated elevators, and conference rooms kitted out with other voice-activated technologies.

Hospital inspired offices

Experts predict due to our new awareness of how viruses spread, office designs might have elements that we associate with a hospital. For example, heavy-duty materials that can withstand frequent and vigorous cleaning. Another concept that may emerge is the elimination of circuitous routes. This will limit unnecessary office tours, detours and interaction with others. The concept used by doctors to get from point A to B in the quickest possible time. Commercial real estate and working environments have continuously changed to reflect the trends and concerns of the current decade. From private and boxed cubicles in the ’80s and '90s to the open, collaborative spaces that we are more used to today. As we wait to see the real cost of the pandemic, we're sure a new shift and evolution in office design has begun. This mounting pressure is between building owners and their tenants. With many transactions and deals on hold, and more people adapting to work from home, owners have to face the harsh reality. Losing contracts with those renting their office space or renegotiation of rent as many companies potentially find new offices for their scaled back workforce.

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