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Employee safety remains a priority

Global Real Estate Perspective, August 2020

Concerns around reopening remain widespread, with the safety of employees returning to work a priority. Re-entry strategies picked up pace across the globe in the second quarter in accordance with national, state or local governance, with a partial return in Europe and the U.S., while a full return was experienced in some Asia Pacific countries.

For corporate occupiers the future will remain unclear throughout 2020. Scenarios are still being dictated by economic and health data, pushing occupiers to a short to medium-term vision rather than a long-term vision:

  • A cautious and measured approach to re-enter sites and reactivate work is a prerequisite – the policy response, health and economic indicators are critical. 
  • Large-scale remote working continues to be a comfortable option and is likely to become a more ingrained part of corporate life going forward. Productivity levels remain strong and can be sustained for longer. 
  • An expected acceleration of the flexible space trend will be key post-crisis, with a prediction that 30% of all office space consumed will be flexible by 2030. A hybrid and distributed ecosystem is emerging.
  • Capital investments are being postponed and construction work is slower than expected. Future investments are likely to be on the radar by the end of 2020 and in 2021.
  • The search for liquidity is still high. There is intense pressure to identify potential savings and cost optimization measures in preparation for 2021.

Corporate occupiers will have to work around continuously adjusted policies and repeated health threats while reactivating their operations and recovering from the pandemic. A de-densification trajectory is emerging as an interim and a permanent state, calling for portfolio rightsizing and workplace redesign. The COVID-19 journey represents an unprecedented opportunity for organizations to Reimagine the Future of Work.