The future of office demand is a hot topic of discussion in boardrooms across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic has required companies to engage in the largest work from home experiment in history. By looking at historic trends, current research and client insights, JLL’s new “The Future of Office Demand” report finds the physical office will maintain its importance for facilitating innovation and collaboration and, ultimately, employee health, well-being and productivity.
After a three-month mandatory hiatus, corporations and their employees have largely adjusted to working from home successfully, but new surveys are pointing toward workers having a desire to get back to normal routines over working from home permanently.
“The global pandemic has forced many employers to reconsider the role of the office in supporting business culture and purpose,” said Christian Ulbrich, JLL CEO. “Real estate demand follows economic cycles, so we know these unprecedented times are also creating opportunities for companies across the globe to reimagine their workspace needs as they return to the office.”
Companies’ location strategies may also shift, with greater emphasis on a diverse market ecosystem. In the short term, there will be an increased demand for some office-based activities to move to locally-accessible suburbs, and second and third-tier cities that make it easier for employees to connect with colleagues closer to home. This could also be an added asset post-pandemic, with the lack of commute being the element workers enjoyed most about working from home – according to nearly half (49%) of respondents from a recent JLL survey of 3,000 office workers.
By studying historical trends of previous global economic downturns such as the 1990s recession, dot-com crash and 2008 global financial crisis, JLL understands how the corporate real estate market recovered as the economy was rebuilt. The unknowns surrounding the pandemic and the potential for a second wave of outbreaks make it difficult to predict the recovery time; however, the ingenuity of employers to enable productivity with alternative staffing and socially distant work spaces offer an encouraging outlook for office demand.
The past few months of mass working from home has given us clarity on the reasons for commuting to the office. Offices encourage collaboration, innovation, mentoring and team building – all things that technology struggles to replicate. In fact, the same JLL survey found that 58% of office workers missed the office, with younger cohorts – those 35 and under – showing an even stronger desire to return (65%). Human interaction and socializing with colleagues were the most missed element of the office (44%) followed by collective face-to-face work (29%) according to the survey.
JLL’s Global CEO, Corporate Solutions, Neil Murray agrees with this outlook, “Density requirements will change and there will be an evolution in how office space is used, designed and developed. But history, and our latest office worker survey, shows that the office is not going away anytime soon.”
A survey by Gensler found only 12% of workers want to work from home full-time, and 70% say they want to spend most of their week in the office. Meetings, socializing and impromptu face-to-face interactions with colleagues were ranked as the top reasons people wanted to head back into the office.
JLL is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $18.0 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 94,000 as of March 31, 2020. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.
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