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Role of the office and Real Estate Strategies post Pandemic

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

Top of mind for every C-Suite executive today is the role of the office in the new normal. The ever evolving role of the office has further been put to test during the ongoing crisis. Companies had to scramble and manage remote working and yet continue to beat the costs of their massive real estate portfolios. A few of them ended up considerably consolidating their footprints but others used a wait and watch strategy. So what is going to be the role of the office?

Source of Image: WorkDesign Magazine Recently, we had the opportunity to discuss with the HR Director of a successful digital company based in GTA, about their real-estate strategy for the coming months. They’re growing very rapidly-500 employees pre-pandemic, 650 now, and probably 800 at the end of 2021.

Before the pandemic happened, they were planning on moving to a new place with more space. Now, the dynamics have changed. The company has decided to stay where they are and implement home office for 50% of the time. They have also decided to redefine the purpose of the workspace. As of September, this place will be dedicated to foster people interactions (team meetings, quarterly assessments, face to face discussions between manager and employee) and social events. On-boarding of new employees will be led on the workplace as well. Another decision they’re making is to come back to deliver training sessions at the workplace, since many employees experience fatigue attending continous online sessions. WSP says that the real-estate market will remain strong in Canada but will shift to adapt to the new expectations of companies and employees:

  • A greater amount of home working will persist: the next time a coronavirus comes along, we know we need to move quickly to this model, which means that it has to be in play most of the time.

  • COVID-19 pushes organizations to dedicate more space per employee.

  • This crisis is probably going to accelerate the need for modern, flexible office space with lots of services (“hotelization” of office spaces): more comfort at work, more cozy spaces, relaxed dress codes, etc.

  • Suburban or out-of-town locations where workers typically drive, will be able to resume something approaching normal operations much more quickly. But if offices become destinations to meet coworkers, get inspiration and exchange ideas, rather than just to sit at a desk, amidst those buzzy locations- it makes more sense.

  • What made talent clusters (for example the Bay area) so powerful is that ideas can jump from person to person (but of course if germs and viruses are also jumping from person to person, that’s going to make them a lot less attractive). If we can get back to work within the next few months, talent clusters should be secure for some time to come. But if the pandemic continues for several years, these cities should struggle, and we may see a more systematic pullback from the clusters. It’s a question of how it plays out over the next year.

FCCCO is bringing together a panel of cross-industry experts ton June 23rd, to discuss this topic, for our “Future of work” event.

Stay tuned for more inciteful blogs and articles about what to expect as we enter this New Era of Work Models.

Contact the experts-

Riva Walia (MD FCCCO)

Mathieu Rumeur(Strategic HR Consultant FCCCO)

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