Office vacancies and subleases have continued to soar across the country. Companies with leases that are about to expire are opting for short-term renewals, leaving the future of the office industry in limbo.
Occupancy in Southern California has fallen 6.2 million square feet since the beginning of the year, which is equivalent to emptying out the Empire State Building twice.
However, Lew Horne, CBRE’s president for Southern California, Arizona and Hawaii, believes that the office still has a future, but it will look much different.
“I think at first, when everybody was working at home, there was this euphoria of, ‘Hey, I don’t have to commute. This looks great. I’ve got this new relationship with my boss, and Zoom is fantastic,’” said Horne. “But I think what’s gone on over the last eight months is people have recognized, I miss my culture. I miss the collaborative nature of my company. If I’m an aspiring young professional and working up in the organization, I miss my mentor.”
Horne added that the office will likely have to make big changes in terms of design and medical protocols in the future.
For instance, CBRE’s “free address” system allows people to share workstations if it is not in use by someone else, but the future will require these spaces to undergo increased sanitation.
Horne also said that while the office will still be essential to well-oiled business operations, he admitted that until a vaccine is widely available and employees feel safe, they should have the option to either work from home or come back into the office.