Since the beginning of COVID the commercial real estate industry has been debating how COVID would impact the future of office space. The debate has largely revolved around whether working from home would become the new normal or whether companies would bring their employees back to work.
While the debate is by no means settled, there is certainly a consensus that many employers will be bringing employees back to the office in some capacity, and that changes to their office space will be necessary. Business owners will need to take into account that health and safety measures are going to be a key component in the design and utilization of office spaces moving forward. A recent article published in NAIOP’s Development Magazine, and written by Ron Derven, provides some excellent insight into what the office of the future may look like and specifically how “[s]afety, health and wellness in buildings and workplaces may become as important over the next 10 years as LEED certification has been over the past decade”.
By Ron Derven
Cool, transit-rich urban office projects of the future and their suburban counterparts will offer tenant-attracting amenities and design, but what may actually close the deal will be the safety, health and wellness features of the building. That’s according to recent interviews with office developer/owners who are on the front lines of making their projects safe places to work.
Health and safety concerns about COVID-19 drove people out of their offices to isolate at home in February and March. Alleviating those concerns will help encourage people to eventually return to these workplaces, according to the developers and owners. They are currently focused on efforts to build office-user confidence by implementing screening procedures for visitors, employees and contractors; creating staggered work times and lunch times to ease the burden on elevators; continually cleaning facilities, buttons and doorknobs; making elements in the building as touchless as possible; encouraging social distancing in every public area of the building, specifically lobbies and elevators; improving air quality; adding safety- and health-related signage; and much more.
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