After months of keeping employees home to dodge COVID-19, many companies are concluding that the best place for most of their employees is back in the office.
The pandemic has proven that people don’t need to sit at desks full time, but employers are bringing people back with at least flexible hours, shattering the illusion of a workplace revolution that leaves most of people logging in at home.
A national survey of 185 companies by CBRE, a real estate services company, suggests that executives now see the office as a better way to support collaborative work than relying on remote communications.
The company’s Spring 2021 Occupant Survey found that 41% of businesses polled intended to return to regular office use in the third quarter of this year, while 20% aimed at the fourth quarter. Another 23% said their workers had already returned to their workplace.
“Several factors are supporting this sentiment, including the ongoing rebound in the US economy and the realization by businesses that they need to conserve more office space than they previously thought,” said Julie Whelan, manager. occupant research at CBRE.
Some observers believe that companies have no choice but to call back most workers because customers are worried about the services they are receiving.
During the pandemic, the benefits of remote working depended on the industry. Although they are more difficult to achieve in the hospitality and leisure industries, which rely heavily on personal contact with customers, professional service companies have found an easier route.
“Allowing employers to wholesale remotely will in certain situations be industry motivated,” said Denise Heekin, a labor and employment lawyer.
âCertainly, technology has made it much easier for lawyers to work from home and staff to work from home, and it’s certainly nice to have that option,â she said.
One result could be smaller spaces for some companies who find that part of their workforce can continue to spend part of their working weeks from home.
At the same time, office space that remains empty is likely to be reclaimed by out-of-state companies looking for new housing for their corporate headquarters or regional operations.
The number of companies looking for office space is on the rise, said Ken Krasnow, vice president of institutional investor services at Colliers International, the real estate services company.
âSix months ago, at the height of the pandemic, there was a real thought of ‘do people have to go back to the office altogether? ” he said.
âWhat we’ve heard from our customers is that the number of businesses looking for space has grown exponentially over the past 30 to 60 days. You talk to office brokers and they will tell you that there are a lot of tours.
The theme is an important selling point for commercial real estate brokers who have clients with space to rent.
âOverall, whether or not companies adopt more flexible office hours, the space itself is seen as a place to support a company’s ability to attract and retain talent,â Tere said. Blanca, CEO of Miami-based Blanca Commercial Real Estate. .
– Tribune press service