Covid-19 is accelerating trends that were already working their way through society, but there’s one trend that has accelerated more rapidly and has potentially longer lasting consequences than the others: working from home.
Pictured above: Workplaces that support health, wellness, and disease prevention will be the new ante required to attract and retain a cadre of employees whose talents are now untethered from a specific geography and marketable nationwide.
By Ashley Fox
Director of New Business Development, DSS Consultants
South Florida Business Journal
The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating trends that were already working their way through society. eCommerce, restaurant takeout and delivery, and telemedicine are all surging.
But there’s one trend that has accelerated more rapidly and has potentially longer lasting consequences than the others: working from home. Before Covid-19, only 4% of knowledge workers worked from home more than half the time, according to data gathered by Global Workplace Analytics. In the post-pandemic climate, they expect that percent to surge to as much as 30%.
The corresponding impact on the demand for commercial office space will be dramatic as companies reduce their office footprint or even eliminate it altogether.
“The office product itself will have to be completely reimagined,” said Development Services Solutions, LLC’s Chief Operating Officer Gustavo Garcia. Development Services Solutions, LLC (DSS Consultants) is a Miami-based real estate development consulting firm. Garcia is convinced that the pandemic is accelerating the long-coming transformation of the professional workspace: from a place to do individual work, to a place where people come together to meet and collaborate safely.
Just like business casual attire, office configuration trends that started in Silicon Valley will make their way east. Competition for the best talent prompted companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook to provide a variety of innovative workspaces packed with amenities, and health and wellness features.
To foster face-to-face collaboration, respect social distancing, and maintain a strong sense of corporate culture in the post-Covid world, South Florida employers will have to offer a more responsive office environment. Workplaces that support health, wellness, and disease prevention will be the new ante required to attract and retain a cadre of employees whose talents are now untethered from a specific geography and marketable nationwide.
Office designs that support health, wellness and disease prevention
“Real estate owners, developers, and investors who are among the first to understand how to refit their properties to address long-term healthy building concerns — and develop innovative design elements that address these concerns — will do better over time,” said DSS Executive Vice President Charlo Jenkins, who runs the firm’s underwriting support services. “It looks as if there will be significant returns for investing in office space environments that support health and wellness, while simultaneously increasing efficiency and producing a quality work product. This is an opportunity for us to get even better at what we do.”
DSS expects a trend of building owners remodeling their properties to incorporate elements from health care design into office buildings. DSS is already talking with design firms, consultants, contractors and vendors about how to refit existing buildings with more advanced and cleaner ventilation systems, safer water sanitation systems, fabrics that are less hospitable to germs, more spacious bathrooms, and even ultraviolet lighting systems that can automatically disinfect surfaces when rooms, common areas, and elevators are not in use.
Building concepts like these are suddenly attracting far more interest. They have been around for years, and have been well documented in numerous studies, including The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building published by the Harvard School of Public Health.
A study conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics summarizes the healthy building features that are most important to owners, architects, interior designers and contactors.
Source: Dodge Data & Analytics
Fostering social distancing in office life
Social distancing imperatives will also lead to substantial modifications of office layouts, such as increasing space between desks, having fewer chairs in conference rooms, and flexible arrangements where a portion of employees will routinely work from home on a rotating basis. Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate company, has developed a new concept called 6 Feet Office, which is intended to foster social distancing in everyday office life.
So far, indications from early innovators show that the adoption of healthy building standards is good for a company’s bottom line, and is worth the premium rent. The Urban Land Institute, for example, reports numerous examples of measurable improvements in collaboration, creativity, productivity, employee satisfaction, and retention. In addition, a study by Dodge Data & Analytics reports that employee satisfaction is a top benefit of investing in healthier buildings.
Source: Dodge Data & Analytics
“In the post-pandemic workplace, healthy, productive, and attractive work environments are going to be a critical new recruiting and retention tool, attracting the best talent,” according to DSS Founder and CEO Donald Kipnis. “It’s important for architects, interior designers, engineers, and contractors to understand just how much health and wellness-focused office environments will become a key indicator of a company’s commitment to their employees, and a benchmark of corporate culture and brand integrity. Health and wellness is fundamental to an integrated smart office design.”
For more information about DSS Consultants, send an email to email@example.com or call 305-856-6711.
DSS Consultants is one of South Florida’s leading construction management and Owner’s Representative firms. Over the past 35 years, it has managed hundreds of projects, solved thousands of design and construction-related problems, and saved clients millions of dollars.
Ashley Fox is the director of new business development for DSS Consultants. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.