A new white paper from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows that one of the core issues plaguing the office industry is the volatile labor market.
The research titled “A Framework for Considering Office Demand in a Post-pandemic World” finds that there are two likely, but contradictory outcomes when it comes to the future of the office market.
One scenario is the continuation of the hybrid work model, where workers will be in the office for a few days a week. The other focuses on a return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
But the determining factor that could easily tip the scales over into one care or the other? The workforce.
Currently, the competition for talent is hot — and limited. This means that employees have more say in their job choices, which in today’s context means more flexibility.
However, the research suggests that the difference between the two scenarios also marks a trade-off between short-term and long-term benefits.
For instance, increased in-office work could lead to more workplace capital and connections that cannot be replicated in a remote environment.
“In-person work builds workplace capital while fully remote work stalls the development and hastens the drawing down of that workplace capital,” the report states.
If hybrid work continues to be a force to be reckoned with, occupancy levels, net incomes and values could be at risk of falling by 20%. On the other hand, employees that see a more steady return to the office could pave the way for a pre-pandemic rebound.
But there is also a gray area.
“Demand for office will be determined by the mix and how many—and what types and sizes of firms—pursue which,” the white paper states. “There will likely be concentrations in approaches by industry, geography, firm size and more.”