Building owners and architects are having to shift their bottom-line in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of offering lavish workspaces that feature shared kitchen amenities and breakout areas with foosball tables, companies need to focus on how to make the workplace safe and healthy.
According to Jack Paruta, senior project architect at Gensler, their research has totally shifted to focus on how to help clients and employees navigate the pandemic. This includes allowing workers in regions that have experienced a spike in cases to work from home.
Over the past few years, the commercial real estate industry has become increasingly focused on being more sustainable and energy efficient, and it appears that the pandemic may be accelerating these goals. With buildings seeing low occupancy rates and commutes decreasing, carbon footprints have also lessened.
Moving forward, owners and tenants will need to focus on how to reconfigure spaces that accommodate physical distancing needs. This includes reevaluating how to place furniture, establish new circulation patterns and encourage people to use stairs rather than elevators.
“The incorporation of new mechanical systems featuring improved airflow and more effective filters will also be required by building users,” said Tom Usher, executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield. “Touchless technologies will be incorporated where possible. We also anticipate that companies will right size their spaces and plan for staggered work schedules for employees.”
Additionally, Paruta believes that there will be a growth in the suburban office market as companies look into providing space for workers closer to their homes, while reducing the density of their central offices.