News release

Better than normal? Living, working, playing and leading in 2021

JLL’s report highlights potential shifts in working and living conditions following COVID-19 disruptions

January 21, 2021

CHICAGO, Jan. 21, 2021 – JLL’s latest research, Better than Normal: Vision 2021, explores potential opportunities and modifications society may embrace as a result of the unprecedented disruption spurred by COVID-19. The pandemic exposed shortcomings in previously considered normal processes and conditions across industries, property types and regions.

“After a year of research, surveys, interviews and analysis, we can state with confidence that we will never return to what most people considered ‘normal’ at the beginning of 2020,” said JLL Senior Director of Research Christian Beaudoin. “The world has evolved and accelerated in ways that will alter our future and there is no going back.”

Transformations are expected across all property types, according to the report. For residential and multi-housing, the shift to part- or full-time remote work had “kitchen tables transformed into desks,” dramatically altering the living needs of renters who now predictably demand more space and flexibility from their units.

Urban core and suburban office lines will also blur as location strategies place greater importance on employee preferences surrounding commutes, affordability, and mobility trends. The pandemic has accelerated the migration of some young, educated professionals to suburbs and secondary markets. As economic recovery efforts strengthen across the US, the competition for talent will intensify, increasing pressure on employers to differentiate based on location, amenities, and environment. Now more than ever, it's critical real estate investors, developers, and decision-makers understand which cities and suburbs are experiencing job growth and attracting highly educated talent.

Sustainability will increase in importance for industrial properties, with a focus on carbon-neutral supply chains, environmentally friendly package design and a greater emphasis on renewable energy sources. With e-commerce up by 20 percent in 2020 alone as consumers opt for convenience, the U.S. industrial sector “needs an estimated 1 billion square feet of new industrial space this decade to keep up with demand.”

For the retail sector, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how inter-connected the sectors within commercial real estate are. Without office users and large-scale tourism, urban retail experienced unprecedented challenges in 2020. However, there is reason for optimism in the new year. As people increasingly become more comfortable conducting regular day-to-day activities and adapt to social practices, such as social distancing, urban retailers must be prepared for the return of the in-person consumer.

Observed and projected U.S. office re-entry timeline 

For more insights and information, download the report: Better than Normal: Vision 2021

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: 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 in 2019, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of over 92,000 as of September 30, 2020. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit