June 2020, Covid-19 Issue
It's been over 3 months since companies and employees have been forced to vacate their offices to be confined to their homes. In the blink of an eye, companies that have been unwilling for years to embrace the concept of working from home suddenly had no choice but to make it work!
Now that companies have had a taste of what it's like for their employees to work remotely, questions are starting to arise as to whether they should consider this as a long-term option. For space occupiers, an office is very high on the list of expenses in running a business. So, it's no wonder that many are reviewing their options.
As advisors to a large array of space occupiers in the market, Devencore is in a prime position to provide insights into this decision-making process.
Let's dive in!
Throughout this whole crisis, the real estate advisors at Devencore have been in touch with their clients to assist them with questions related to their leases and other real estate requirements. At the beginning of the lock-down, the burning question from occupiers was whether they could defer or halt their rent payments given that they were not able to use their space. Our legal services team quickly jumped in to provide answers from a legal standpoint even before the government announced measures to help businesses to cope with the situation. To this day, the impact of these measures are still unclear as the process needs to be initiated by landlords.
Now, we're hearing from clients that they are in the process of reviewing their space requirements given the situation. The main drivers of this consideration are, of course, financial viability, the health and safety of employees as well as family obligations and time management. With this new reality, it's understandable that companies are reviewing their options.
However, it is important in this current situation not to neglect the long-term impacts of such decisions. While remote work might be working relatively well right now, we still don't know what the long-terms effects of this phenomenon are. When a vaccine is found, will things go back to where they were? We will remember that, before COVID-19 hit, the demand for office space was at a historic high in most major cities across the country.
One question that everyone should be asking right now is this: why was there so much emphasis, before the pandemic, on having the best workplace possible for your employees? With the lock-down in place, it's easy to forget that the office goes beyond the physical walls. The office provides an environment for people to interact, to brainstorm, to get work done and to instill corporate culture and reinforce the brand.
Right before the pandemic, offices and workplaces were seen as a major component in the attraction and retention of talent. As millennials keep flocking into the workplace, will they prefer to work at home through video-conferencing apps or will they look forward to mingling with their co-workers? The answers might vary depending on industries, but it is a fact that humans are social beings that naturally look to be around people.
Now that we've experienced first-hand the concept of working from home, we all probably have a pretty good idea of what the positives and negatives are. Granted, we are now in an extreme version of the concept. But as employees and business leaders, a simple question to ask ourselves right now is this: what are some of the things that we miss the most about working from the office? There's a reason why companies were competing for office space prior to the pandemic. And while it is crucial right now to re-evaluate certain business practices to adapt to the crisis, it is important as well not to overlook the fundamentals.
The office has seen numerous transformations over the years and the current situation will undoubtedly lead to a new version of the workplace driven by health and safety. But one thing that has always been a constant in the pursuit of the perfect work environment is the desire to bring people together. Ultimately, this is the real value of an office!
For any question or concern regarding your real estate situation, please contact one of our experts.