HOW WILL COVID-19 AFFECT THE WORKPLACE?
Updated: May 8, 2020
Written by: Richard Schuen, SIOR CCIM and Hannah Williams, CPMC
Richard Schuen is a founding principal of the Greater Columbus Region’s office of Colliers International. He is responsible for the company’s strategic direction and works closely with the firm’s key investment and service clients in providing creative solutions to their real estate problems. With more than 25 years of experience in the commercial real estate field, Richard’s expertise includes acquisition and sale of investments, financing, leasing, and asset management. Hannah Williams specializes in research capabilities, providing support for the Colliers Columbus Office, Industrial, Retail, and Multifamily Groups. She is responsible for executing data reports, maintaining a commercial property database, reporting quarterly trends, performing data analysis and utilizing statistical information to predict future behavior in the market. Keep reading to get Rich and Hannah’s take on how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the workplace.
How might COVID influence workplace trends? In a very significant way. This event is another opportunity for companies – as the employer – to focus on the health and well-being of their associates. How companies react to this will impact their ability to recruit and retain talent. This pandemic is causing a shift in furniture and workplace design. The design trend used to be cubicles, private offices and divided spaces, but in more recent years has moved towards open, collaborative, shared spaces. Tenants are beginning to wonder if these open, shared spaces where employees work very close to one another are safe. Because of this, we might see a shift back to spaces with some sort of divide and where associates are sitting further away from each other. There will also be a significant focus on re-entry plans into spaces. We will also most likely see a shift away from densification to create the space needed to keep people safe. As a quick example – we are working with an office tenant who was about to sign an already-planned expansion in which they would give up a small portion of their current space for a larger, contiguous block of space. However, they now are exploring whether they should keep that portion of space too. The company is now questioning whether they space planned the associates too close together. And in that case, the extra space they were planning on giving up would come in handy. Overall, this pandemic is opening employers’ minds to the importance of worker well-being, so we can anticipate workplace trends changing in the future to reflect this sentiment.