CoeoSpace provides its “take” on Cohesion’s blog titled “Want to improve your building’s indoor air quality? We’ve got the solution.” CoeoSpace then further explores what will bring office tenants back to their office space.
Learn more here about how to bring employees back to enjoy the workplace!
Is commercial office space for lease “dead”? What will allow employees to feel safe?
At CoeoSpace, we are seeing tenants making indoor air quality or “IAQ” a key consideration in determining which commercial office space to rent. Because air quality will impact when employees will feel safe enough to return to their workplace, this is critical. Cohesion, a leading-edge company, headquartered in the Windy City of Chicago, that provides a smart building platform for commercial real estate, discusses in How to Improve Air Quality the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) for office workers.
We agree 100% that a building’s air quality is an important topic. Because, it concerns every worker. Solutions range from the old-fashioned method of opening the windows to new technologies for air flow and circulation. Returning employees are also interested in other wellness and sanitation features. Specifically employees are now focused on:
- The cleaning schedules for the lobby, elevators, shared tenant spaces.
- The property’s social distancing policies.
- Touchless doors, elevator cars.
- Population control in high traffic and high visitor areas such as the lobby or fitness center and regular reporting so trends can be understood.
These new policies and technologies focused on the health and wellness of a building and a space have become paramount. However, we anticipate that future occupants still hold a high priority for:
- Outdoor space.
- Natural light.
- Fitness Centers.
- Indoor parking and convenient or free parking.
- Café’s and shared tenant areas.
- And perhaps even basketball courts, bowling alleys and recording studios.
A Fantastic Example of Office Space for Lease in Chicago
One fresh delivery in Chicago’s West Loop CoeoSpace – Find Space. Share Space. Promote Space is 1201 West Lake Street. Because of all it offers, CoeoSpace’s Co-Factor gives this building a Platinum rating. In addition to premium amenities and quality, the property is in an amazing location. This office building offers exceptional options on every level from ground floor retail space to many office space choices. From a beautifully done, move-in ready office suite for 70 -80 people to spaces to design and build your own space for up to 24,000 square feet can be found here. So, it’s a great find for someone looking for state of the art space, top air quality, best in class management, and many amenities.
Hybrid Office Space?
CoeoSpace is hearing that the “hybrid” workplace will be the new world order. Because, employees are seeking “choice” or the freedom to work where they feel they can be the most productive. However, the details of how this will work is still unclear to most business leaders. So, workplace design will and should now be focused on health and wellness elements. This will allow their employees to feel safe and supported.
Over 80% of office workers want to get back to their office space.
Most humans that CoeoSpace has spoken with do not believe that complete remote working is an effective long-term strategy. Because “people need people” to collaborate and be creative and isolation hurts companies growth potential. So, the five day a week commute into the office seems to be a thing of the past for most companies.
The CoeoSpace prediction on back to the office.
We predict that in addition to office buildings becoming wellness oriented, that tenant workspace and design will evolve to support a company’s culture, brand, and employee engagement goals. Office space will now be created to meet employees “where they are and where they want to be.” So, we envision tenant spaces of the future will incorporate amenities such as a meditation room, socially distanced collaboration rooms, employee lounges and even sanitation stations for IT equipment. And, perhaps even a “mudroom”! As mudrooms are commonly cherished in many homes as the place to leave the dirty items until they are cleaned.
No one really knows what the office will look like post-pandemic. So, now is the opportunity to reimagine how space and buildings can evolve to maximize productivity. Also, how the office can improve an employee’s quality of life and ability to choose how and where they work. I believe the possibilities are boundless.
And that’s our take at CoeoSpace. Thank you Cohesion for opening the space for this important and timely discussion.
When Rip Van Winkle falls asleep in the Catskill Mountains just before the Revolutionary War, he doesn’t wake until twenty years later—beard grown a foot and a rotting, rusty musket by his side—to a post-war world that’s very different from the one he remembers. How does this relate to commercial office space after Covid-19, you ask? CoeoSpace is here to address what we anticipate will happen.
While it’s a bit much to suggest that we will emerge from our current isolation to find a world as altered as the one Washington Irving presents in “Rip Van Winkle”. Although self-isolation beards do seem to be a thing, there will certainly be changes. This will range from how we greet colleagues (no handshakes, please) to what we require from our office space.
So, Change, even positive change, like a promotion or a new office, can be hard. So, the reasons behind today’s workplace changes are anything but positive. After all the worry and loss, we look forward to the return of normalcy. Yet we may find that the workplace we’ve been so eager to return to differs considerably from the one we left behind. Office space will likely be hard to recognize from pre-pandemic times.
Personal safety, always a top priority for employers, has a new look—one that requires keeping people at a safe distance to help limit the spread of disease. So, the productivity benefits related to open floor plans and desk sharing are taking a necessary back seat to the need for individual workspaces and agile work-from-home options. To return workers to the office safely, companies are having to make significant adjustments.
Your company’s return-to-work plan may begin with your schedule—possibly alternating two weeks at home with two in the office, in an effort to decrease office population density. When it’s your day to return, give yourself a little extra time to actually make it to your desk—there may be a wait at your now voice-activated elevator, due to the limited number of people permitted inside. Arriving at your floor, you take a circuitous route down designated one-way hallways intended to limit your interaction with colleagues. You get to your usual desk in the open office plan only to discover that it has been moved six feet away from your coworkers’ desks, and “sneeze guard” partitions have been installed. The on-site gym has been shuttered, and in the office cafeteria, seating is limited to a single person per table.
While this degree of change may seem daunting, it’s likely coming. Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm, has already created “the six foot office,” which uses design tools such as some of those described above to keep coworkers at least six feet apart, thus mitigating the risks inherent in returning to work.
Businesses in the U.S. are also taking cues from those with offices in parts of the world where employees have begun their return to work. As Jena McGregor of the Washington Post reports:
“IBM, which has begun adding back workers in several locations in China and South Korea, has developed global standards for returning to the office. They include bringing back those who need access to on-site equipment or labs first, staggering arrival times so elevators don’t become too crowded, eliminating buffets and shared serving tools in cafeterias, and taking out furniture in other spaces to ease social distancing concerns in conference rooms.”
Other companies, like Intel, have also implemented strategies to limit the spread of disease, such as requiring more frequent and visible office cleaning, distributing masks, providing disposable plastic covers for shared keyboards, and screening for symptoms.
As Uri Berliner of NPR points out, some protective measures require making judgment calls, such as deciding whether to mandate temperature checks and contact tracing. Along these same lines, sensors used to monitor desk usage, once touted as a way to maximize utilization, are now being investigated as a way to ensure that those same desks are not being used too much, and are being cleaned at appropriate times.
At this early juncture, much is still unknown, including whether companies will, as some people posit, ultimately require less office space. As Rani Molla reported for Recode:
“In short, it is too early to tell if companies will lease less space,” Julie Whelan, Americas head of occupier research at commercial real estate services company CBRE, told Recode. “While they may need less space because some people may conduct some of their work remotely, they may also need more space to provide the social distancing that employees may feel they need to be comfortable.”
It’s also too soon to tell how many of the changes now being implemented will remain in place even after we have a COVID-19 vaccine or effective treatment. It seems likely, however, that the ones most apt to stick around will be those that provide benefits beyond mere social distancing. When CoeoSpace made the decision to offer live remote tours of commercial real estate properties, for example, its short term goal was to allow landlords and tenants to continue to safely find and visit commercial real estate spaces while social distancing, but long term, these remote tours will offer the continued benefit of cost and time savings to those attempting to locate and secure property from distant locations.
Returning to old Rip Van Winkle and the new world he found himself in, let me assure you that everything worked out just fine. His grown daughter took him in, and although it was some time before he could fully comprehend all that had changed while he slept, he eventually resumed his old habits and did very well for himself indeed.
We hope it will be the same for all of us, in time as we look to return to the office space we so miss.
* * *
by: Kim Pierson