Real Estate And The Future Of Work

This is one of the most-asked questions resulting from the Covid-19 shutdown
CENTRAL DISTRICT, Hong Kong - July 12, 2020 - PRLog -- In fact, many New York City businesses are going into their fourth month of remote work as of this article — the city has not reopened yet for the entirety of business activities that Manhattanites are involved with.

While many corporate announcements and speculations have been made about "working from home forever," I do not believe this will happen. Humans are just not made for that.

From a real estate perspective, the need for central business districts and office buildings will continue. And so will the need for urban residential buildings close to work.

In periods of crisis, people rapidly forget about normal life. But for the commute times saved, let us be realistic: Day after day, more and more of the national workforce drifts away. Without an office environment to commute to and provide a sense of discipline and general energy, we have all witnessed members of our work circles become demotivated with tasks they would swiftly deal with in a normal work environment.

Without an office, the "work-life balance" expression loses its meaning. Not to mention, employees with young children and those who lack a proper desk setup or the technological bandwidth (e.g., internet speed) to maintain office-like productivity can find it harder to focus at home.

Facebook has announced that as many as 50% of its employees could work from home within the next five to 10 years (Fine print: Most likely for a pay cut), and Twitter has proclaimed that its employees could "work from home forever" (Fine print: If their position allows for it). Even if tech companies are more likely to succeed with this due to their very nature, they still thrive on creativity and company culture.

The economy is the other reason we will likely go back to office work en masse. A company might be able to maintain its company culture remotely and online for a limited time, but not forever.

Arguably, companies may also need more office space in order to comply with social distancing measures while still being able to hold the same number of employees on-site. JPMorgan, for example, announced that it will bring back 50% of its workforce to its Manhattan office by mid-July, with plans for more thereafter, marking desks with green or red signs to indicate where employees can sit. Interestingly enough, the tech-savvy bank kept 20% of its workforce at its offices during the pandemic.

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