Tenants will seek more private workspaces and fewer coworking options as health and safety concerns are amplified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to commercial real estate researchers.
The research from commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle, points to the current social distancing measures—-which place a premium on personal space—are certain to have a lasting impact on the kinds of office spaces tenants will look for going forward.
The firm said up to 70% of office spaces in 2020 had at least partially open floor plans, and that workers had significantly less space individually than they did at the start of the century.
“However, we now expect that recently trending arrangements of benching, shared desks, and hoteling stations will be carefully evaluated and potentially shifted to provide a greater allocation of space per employee,” the report reads.
The research also suggests that even as some workers return to the workplace, some might be more hesitant to fully commit their typical pre-pandemic work schedule and split their time between the office and their homes.
The JLL researchers said in a recently piloted employee survey by the firm, 4.9 percent of office workers said they wanted to work exclusively from home going forward, and 60.6 percent of workers planned to split their work time between the office and their homes.
“This reflects both the current need for greater work-life balance as well as the need for workspace that enables deep concentration—a trend that could be reversed if more private spaces were offered in the office,” the report reads.
Health and safety precautions are also likely to become the norm for bigger office buildings. The report pointed to office security policies in countries like Japan, South Korea and China, which include temperature checks, as predictions of what could play out for American office spaces.
Coworking spaces are also likely to become less popular after the pandemic, the report said, as users become more concerned about sharing a space with others and whether the area was properly sanitized after being used.
“With people moving in and out of coworking hot desks on a regular workday, one seat could have been shared by multiple people. This will challenge coworking operators moving forward to institute greater cleaning practices,” the report reads. “More critically, however, it may change the appeal of working alongside strangers, and in unassigned seats in any office environment, at least in the short term.”
Landlords will also have to be more aware of public and communal spaces in their properties, including “bottleneck” locations like lobbies and bathrooms, so safe distances can be maintained.
“Estimating usage, monitoring and managing density and flow, and creating flexibility to make adjustments and communicate protocols will be critical for reentry and the near-term transition period,” the report’s authors said.