The Office Dynamic – CRE Evolution
Q1 2021 Austin Office Outlook
As the United States & Texas begin to reach immunity to COVID-19 via vaccines and natural immunity, there is one certain thing…uncertainty is the office’s future right now. Developers, brokers, and investors across the nation speculate about what the office demand will look like in the summer of 2021 and on. While remote work is considered an overall success, aspects of being in the office have been lost, like company culture and team collaboration. In a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 68% of executives responded that 3-5 days in the office each week is necessary to keep a strong company culture. While most executives seem to agree, employees do not. More than half of employees want to be remote at least three days a week, even after the pandemic recedes. These contrasts between executives and employees will set the tone for what the office will look like soon. When taking a closer look, newer employees require the most amount of in the office. 30% of new professionals (0-5 years’ experience) want no more than one day a week remote.
The stark contrasts between employees’ preferences and employers will be a significant contention point for the office’s future. Whether or not employees will return to the office in the same capacity as before is still unknown. The way employees return to work, how fast, and if at all will be prescriptive for Commercial Real Estate. All spectators will keep a close eye on this as it does not only affect the office. Multifamily and retail has shifted as well. A popular trend that has accelerated in recent years is mixed-use environments. As the workplace becomes more dynamic, we can expect this to reflect in future constructions. Many popular concepts of the workplace’s future look involve mixed-use projects with a combination of office, retail, and residential. The ability to fluidly go between the office, retail, and home will be a significant factor as many people are becoming enamored with the idea of the 20-minute neighborhood. Gensler has called this the “hybrid workplace model…We envision the post-pandemic workplace as an intimate social hub that takes all individuals into consideration.”
As we try and return to a pre-COVID era, the office will play an integral part in returning to a form of normalcy; however, what that looks like will be different from what we knew before. Only time will tell how much impact the work and office changes will have on Austonians and citizens’ lives everywhere.