HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) –Working at home is showing itself to be one of COVID-19’s most pervasive and accepted trends, helping normally office-bound workers to remain productive and earn a salary when working in a skyscraper in an urban center is not advisable.
But will that trend hang on after coronavirus has been relegate to the history books?
A real estate executive who fielded questions from two reporters during the 54thannual Real Estate Journalism Conference sponsored by the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) in early December surmised that offices, in some form and location, will survive for a long time and continue offering a creative workspace.
“A consensus is beginning to form among tenants and institutional partners. More and more companies feel that working from home, with no one in the office, is a detriment,” said Jonathan Brinsden, chair of ULI of the Americas for Urban Land Institute and the Midway real estate investment and development firm.
Taking part in a NAREE session called “Reinventing Cities in the Post-COVID Environment” at the NAREE conference, Brinsden addressed the subject of working at home.
While formal mentorships can be created online, said Brinsden, informal mentorships – the kind that take place when employees share space and information “in the same room,” is a benefit that doesn’t happen when workers complete their duties solo.
“The office is a culture and collaboration hub,” he said. “The question is, how do you make it so compelling that people will want to work in the office?”
Once COVID is eradicated, he noted, employees’ work weeks will likely be divided between a traditional office and a work-at-home spot.
Other changes may be forthcoming as well since coronavirus forced the working world to adapt. “Maybe companies that had one office will increase to three offices, which will cut commuting time.”
He said old-style office spaces may no longer “fill the bill” when COVID is no longer an issue.
And co-working, an office sharing concept that includes firms like WeWork, will have a place in the market.
“Co-working space has always been viewed as creative office space,” said Brinsden. “This type of working environment allows employees to bring in contract workers. For different projects, you can have differing co-working spaces. People want co-working space.”
The NAREE panel, co-moderated by Nancy Sarnoff of the Houston Chronicle and Joe Gose, a freelance writer who writes for the New York Times and other publications, opened the conference workshop by discussing the how and why of businesses moving to the suburbs. Brinsden said COVID-19 “accelerated” this movement “which had already started,” but he said it will likely not leave urban centers bereft of businesses.
“COVID accelerated the move to the suburbs and the Sun Belt,” he said. But he added this migratory pendulum will not likely swing as far as some people fear.
Movement to the suburbs has been around for a while, he noted, and it will continue. “Demographics are what they are.”
“But cities have huge demand drivers. And there are livability issues.” With COVID impacting downtown restaurants and other firms, communities have responded with additional outdoor dining space, small parks and bike lanes “that are not major capital projects.”
Dec. 18, 2020 Realty News Report Copyright 2020
File: Post-Covid Office Space Needed
Caption: ULI’s Jonathan Brinsden of Midway discusses development issues with Nancy Sarnoff of the Houston Chronicle and writer Joe Gose at #NAREE2020 virtual conference. Photo credit: NAREE
File: (2) ULI. Jonathan Brinsden, Midway, Urban Land Institute. Joe Gose, Nancy Sarnoff. Post-Covid Office Space Needed. 12-18-20. NAREE. #NAREE2020.