Top executives from three of the world’s most successful commercial real estate companies recently spoke in Phoenix about what the office of the future will be like here and across the country during and after the pandemic.
While the face of commercial office space could change permanently as it adapts, everyone assumes that the Phoenix metropolitan area will continue to experience healthy growth in this sector, unlike some other major cities.
Office space is not disappearing, they said.
“In the past few weeks there has been a lot of inquiries and businesses will continue to do business in Arizona,” said Cathy Teeter, executive director of the Phoenix office of CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services company.
Affordability and lifestyle – including the ability to “park your car in a garage or next to your house” – are the main reasons the Phoenix area continues to generate interest, she said.
Teeter and two other experts spoke at a meeting this month for the nonprofit Valley Partnership, the voice of the real estate industry.
Martha dePlazaola Abbott, Co-Managing Director and Principal at Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning company, and Molly Ryan Carson, Senior Vice President and Leader of the Southwest Region at Ryan Companies, a national contractor, developer, designer, and property manager also panelists.
Martha dePlazaola Abbott
They discussed what the industry is doing to redesign and redesign the office environment. You reach out to employees through surveys and other means to make these decisions.
Polls show that most people want to be back in the office
Employee surveys show that most Americans don’t want to work from home full time. But they enjoy the flexibility to be able to do so, they said.
In May, the Gensler Research Institute released the US Work from Home Survey 2020, which offers insights into the home experience and how it affects people’s expectations for the future. The study interviewed more than 2,300 full-time office workers in the United States from April 16 to May 4 in companies with 100 or more people.
It found that employees mostly want to return to the office, but with changes to address the pandemic. In addition, many workers, especially young and new workers, have problems in the home office environment.
Among the results:
• Only 12 percent of employees want to work from home full-time
• Seventy percent of people want to work in the office for most of their week as long as there is more space for social distancing and other security measures
• Fifty-five percent of respondents said that working from home made it difficult to collaborate with others, and 51 percent said it was more difficult to keep up with other people’s work
• Millennial and Gen Z employees say they are less productive and less satisfied at home
• People expect to return to the office, but things should look different, with stricter health policies and cleaning and room configurations for physical distancing
The office of the future
According to Teeter, CBRE surveys show that employee retention and safety are a critical concern for businesses. Whatever it takes to keep employees happy and healthy will determine how they move back into the office, she said.
“People want flexibility. They don’t want to give up their place in the office. You just want flexibility to make this decision for yourself. You want to work remotely between two and three days a week. “
All three panellists said that many companies will respond with a mix of options for workers. The physical distance determines the new office configuration.
Abbott at Gensler said, “70 percent of employees don’t want to be at home all the time. So they (clients) are trying to create a hybrid environment where you come to the office for meetings and collaboration, but do your focus work at home. “
Arizona can expect a healthy future for commercial office space
In the meantime, there are no fears in many regions that office space will stagnate and requests for rent relief will be made.
Arizona has seen a surge in interest in moves and expansions from a variety of industries: technology, healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, pharmaceuticals, and financial technology.
Ryan Companies’ Carson said she sees customers talking about needing more space without eliminating it as more employees work remotely.
Molly Ryan Carson
“We haven’t had a lot of companies say they are downsizing. They are not people who downsize. Now you think when you get back to the office you need that extra space and how can you do that with your space? “
As the workplace evolves, Arizona will continue to be a desirable location for many reasons, including its central location, Carson said.
“You can go practically anywhere from here. It has become a place for everyone. It’s for the hourly call center employee and for a CEO and for both people under one roof. This is becoming more and more common in the office due to the desire for synergy effects, communication and joint thinking. “
For more information on how to safely reopen offices, see: Reopening the World’s Workplaces.
This story was originally published on Chamber Business News.