Prior to covid, the national labor market was tightening, creating a demand for technologies to support greater collaboration between geographically separate offices, attract remote employment and offer greater flexibility for employees that required non-traditional business hours. These tools provided white collar jobs the ability to quickly pivot during the pandemic from an in-office environment to a work from home environment.
This change has been received with mixed reaction from both employers and employees and the subject of how much office space will be needed in the future is a lively debate. A new hybrid work environment that blends in-office work with remote work is creating uncertainty for investors who are trying to evaluate how to position their office assets for future success.
To meet this challenge, investors must recognize the requirement that the workplace must be a compelling human-centric place has never been more critical to their clients, their tenant’s success. Investing in this new redefined workplace will be a competitive advantage to attract and retain the most desired tenants. Once the economy comes back, employees will pick and choose organizations that invest in people through compelling work settings and offer flexible work models. Owners should prepare buildings to support and enhance these tenant strategies.
Flexibility: Flexible, modular planning and building systems will have a distinct advantage for organizations as physical needs evolve. Nimble spaces that can rapidly change from large to small or open to closed will be desired in conjunction with planning that prioritizes daylight and the outdoors.
Amenities: Knowing tenant workplace strategies will be critical in a post-pandemic environment. Building owners should meet with their tenants for the purpose of understanding the unique opportunities their building can offer to retain and attract tenants. Collaboration between owners and tenants will drive building operations into supporting a healthy and robust ecosystem. Making the right investments now will set up owners for success.
Frictionless technology: Starting at the building entry, through each door all the way to the tenant space, people will expect to be able to easily travel without touching a lever, pushing a button, or turning a door handle. The touchless experience will extend to toilet rooms where we are already seeing some of the most significant changes with touchless flush valves, faucets, soap and hand drying.
Mechanical Systems: Architects say making the office more outdoors – with filtered air and good ventilation – will be a priority post-pandemic. Existing systems can be retrofitted to add more robust filtration and/or ionization systems, and ultraviolet irradiation components can be installed within existing air plenums to destroy germs. Since we know that airborne pathogen spread may be affected by humidity level, it is likely that tenants will seek greater control over humidification as well.