Over the past two decades, various crises have impacted the commercial office market. From the 9/11 attacks to the Great Recession and now the pandemic, the changes to the office market have carried both positives and negatives.
Although concerns over the death of the office have riddled the industry, Newmark vice chairman Scott Klau believes these fears are exaggerated.
“This crisis is not like the previous ones,” said Klau. “There have not been significant layoffs. Corporate earnings are strong. There will be greater demand for flexibility and safety, but our research indicates that most companies are planning to be back in the office by the fall of 2021. Even if people work at home two days a week and are in the office three days, your footprint doesn’t substantially change.”
According to Klau, one of the first signs of recovery are happening in New York’s Grand Central submarket, where RXR Realty’s 230 Park Avenue location is already prepared for the future of flexibility.
In partnership with architecture and design firm Vocon and furniture manufacturer Steelcase, RXR will be installing new HVAC systems, movable walls and more in order to become more agile.
“The word ‘flexibility’ gets thrown around a lot, but what it really means is modularity,” said Debbie Donley, principal of Vocon. “We simplified everything so the tenant can prescribe what they need and get into the space quickly.”
RXR’s digital design lab has also been working on a new proptech digital platform that hopes to provide occupants with fully-informed decisions about how they want to use the space.