May 18, 2020

Is the WFH Experiment Working?

What is going to be the conclusion of this global WFH experiment?  Is the need for office space gone?

For a very long time, a big flashy office was a way for companies to show how important and respectable they really were.  For many companies, it was not logistically feasible to invest in real estate and virtual infrastructure. Now, the faster companies have adapted to a WFH infrastructure the better they are doing. And now that most companies are thinking about ways to cut costs, their investments in virtual infrastructures seem much more cost effective than large fixed costs of their now empty office buildings.

When people go back to work, offices will have to be restructured to minimize places of exposure. Cushman & Wakefield is a real estate services firm than worked with clients to help reopen Wuhan, China. They created and a 300-page manual to deal with the complexities of office restructuring. Luckily, they’ve now distilled it into a 30-page document called the Six Feet Office.

Some architecture firms think that the purpose of office spaces is going to change. They may not continue to be places where people work in tandem. Instead that may be places where people come in to occasionally collaborate or meet face to face with a client. Drastically decreasing the amount of square footage needed.

No matter how companies choose to navigate the long-term effects of the global pandemic, one thing is for sure: offices will never be the same. The habits and changes we are currently making may stick around for a while. However, as Spencer Levy from the real estate investment firm CBRE says, “the reality is that you haven’t needed office space for at least the past 10 years, but people still want it.”

Do you still want to work in an office?