About a month after the US lockdowns for the pandemic began,Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman told Bloomberg Televisionthat it had become clear to him that the firm could operate with"much less real estate." The productivity of Morgan Stanley'shastily-assembled remote workforce turned out to be strong enoughthat he could see a future where "part of every week, certainlypart of every month, a lot of our employees will be at home."

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As the pandemic wore on, more and more companies were coming tothe same conclusion, either mulling out loud the benefits of apermanent remote workforce or actively making plans to move in thisdirection. In a Gartner survey in April, 74% of CFOs said they intendto move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce topermanently remote positions post-COVID 19. Nearly a quarter ofrespondents said they will move at least 20% of their on-siteemployees to permanent remote positions.

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Examples of such firms include Nationwide, Barclays and techfirms such as Twitter and, most recently, Facebook.

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CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last week that up to half ofFacebook's employees could be working remotely in five to 10years.

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At first, office landlords were unsure what to make of theseannouncements. It seemed to be a trend but then again, emotionshave been riding high during the pandemic. And more thanone analyst has noted that similar intentions were vowed after9-11—namely that companies were expected to move to the suburbs toescape high profile, urban buildings—which never came tofruition.

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But increasingly analysts are starting to project a change indemand for office space in the intermediate and long-term followingCOVID-19.

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"We might not see immediate distress in the office sector," saysVictor Calanog, head of CRE Economics for Moody's Analytics, in avideo on the subject. "However it is subject to risk in theintermediate and long run."

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Calanog, though, believes this shift will not necessarily leadto a mass movement of employees working from home, but rather areturn to—does this sound familiar?—suburban office parks. "Ifdense, urban areas fall out of favor, nearby suburban offices maybecome popular," he says. Besides their larger footprint, suburbanoffices typically have rents that are about 50% less than primelocations, which will be attractive as the economy is expected tostruggle for a while.

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It is possible that companies will forget their plans after thepandemic, Calanog says, much like what happened after 9-11.

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"But the longer this crisis goes on, the higher the chance thatchange will set in and become semi-permanent," he says.

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To be sure, the jury is still out on whether remote working willbecome a widespread and permanent trend. Many doubters, though,seem to accept that some change will be necessary and that may wellinclude a suburban presence.

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Last week Boston Properties CEO Owen Thomas told CNBC that remote working will be atemporary trend.

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"The ability to mentor younger employees, the spontaneouscollaboration and creativity that occurs, and also the culture thatcompanies develop, it's very difficult to do it when we're all onZoom" he said on Squawk Box.

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Thomas appeared to echo the possibility that in response to thepandemic, more companies will move to the suburbs. During theinterview he pointed to some businesses' moves to set up smaller,satellite offices in the suburbs instead of asking employees tocommute to downtown.

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In another example, earlier this month former Google CEO EricSchmidt told Face the Nation that he believes that officespace will be in greater demand after the pandemic subsides.

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"We're going to have to think about hub-and-spoke systems wherelocal people don't travel so far because they don't want to be inpublic transit for so long," he said per Business Insider.

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Companies will have to come up with flexible arrangementsbecause some employees will want to be back in the office andothers will be afraid of the possible exposure to COVID-19, hesaid.

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"So imagine that there are three or four people: one will go tothe office, one will stay home, some will go to some local ornear-their-town working environment," he said. "It will change thepattern."

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