Office Modifications For A Shifting Work Environment

Companies with open offices and shared workspaces were significantly affected in 2020. The pandemic caused many to close and establish temporary remote work policies. As health risks remain, large companies and small businesses continue to reconsider their work environments.

Employees Enjoy Remote Work

Many employees have appreciated—and even thrived—under work-from-home arrangements. Will remote work be here to stay after the pandemic? A McKinsey & Company survey reports 80% of people polled enjoy working from home. On top of that, 41% believe they are more productive at home and 28% report being just as productive at home. In a survey from Colliers International, 80% of more than 4,000 office-based employees said they would like to work remotely at least once a week after the pandemic is over.

While employees enjoy aspects of remote work, many companies find that it’s not ideal for collaboration, culture-building activities and employee onboarding. How will changing work trends affect office spaces for rent? What will going to the office look like in the future?

Outlook for Commercial Office Spaces

Earlier this year, many commercial tenants looked to landlords for rent concessions and rent abatement to keep their businesses afloat. Across the country, rent collection has stabilized for office spaces with owners collecting 96% of rent in July 2020, according to Nareit.

As businesses look for ways to reduce costs, they may consider downsizing or eliminating locations. Some may prioritize which employees need to be in the office, leaving others to work remotely full-time or part-time. Working from home may depress demand for office spaces in the near future, though most businesses that can are still renewing their leases. In a market report from July 2020, Colliers stated renewals would increase as commercial tenants look to extend current leases until the end of the pandemic.

The Office Market in Branson, MO

Though more people are working from home, companies will not completely do away with their physical office space. Offices aren’t disappearing any time soon. The Branson, MO office market has remained very steady. Most office suites in the Branson area are less than 2,000 ft, and many tenants continued operating from their offices in 2020—although some employees did work from home on a limited basis.

A Glimpse of Offices of the Future

Adjusting how we work will influence what offices look like in the future. How will offices change after COVID-19? Companies must adapt processes to make room for more remote work and telecommuting if they haven’t done so already.

Leadership should decide what roles must be performed in person and what roles can be remote. The traditional office layout may change depending on what type of work will occur at the office.

Is collaboration key? Must collaboration be done in person? Spaces that were once cubicles and private offices may transform into collaborative meeting areas. Do you need a place for company-wide events? Or a hub for employee onboarding? Office layouts of the future may need to include more open areas, large conference rooms and training rooms.

Technology will be critical to future office spaces—more so than it already is. Companies will need technology that successfully integrates remote employees with onsite employees. With the right technology, meetings and collaborative activities can take place between employees across town or across the country.

Office Modifications to Keep Making

Finding a new office space or making major modifications may not be in your immediate future, but there are changes you can implement now to keep onsite employees safe. Employers need to identify when employees are at a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure during the workday.

The CDC offers several safety guidelines for office buildings, including:

  • Identify common areas. Meeting rooms, waiting areas, break rooms and shared workspaces are places employees could be within 6 ft of one another. Companies can use signs and tape to show proper distancing and create procedures for limiting the number of people in these spaces at one time.
  • Rearrange furniture. Pathways and individual workstations are other areas where employees could be in close contact. Employers should consider arranging desks and workstations so they are 6 ft apart. If this isn’t possible, companies may want to install transparent shields or other barriers to separate employees while they are at their workstations.
  • Go touchless. Sinks, soap dispensers and towel dispensers should be touchless. Communal coffee pots, snacks and water fountains should be removed from break rooms and replaced with single-serving, non-sharable items. Leadership can encourage employees to bring their own coffee or water bottles to work.
  • Improve air quality. The CDC recommends increasing the percentage of outside air flowing into the building, if possible, to improve ventilation. You may need to open windows or adjust how your HVAC system runs. Portable HEPA fan and filtration systems can also be used in high-risk areas.
  • Clean often. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected often, including personal workspaces.

For a full list of guidelines, please refer to the CDC’s website.

Offices may look different now and in the future, but businesses will continue to need physical offices to build company culture, help employees feel connected, and provide a space for employees to carry out important work.

Are you looking for office space for rent? Need a space that suits your business?

Contact Commercial One Brokers today. We can help you find commercial real estate in the Branson, Missouri area.

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