Office spaces are the most common type of commercial real estate (CRE) that you can encounter anywhere. Be it a metropolitan city or a semi-urban setup, offices have their own importance in the corporate sector. From the perspective of CREs, when you consider that the unprecedented slowdown brought on about by the COVID-19 pandemic affected the global market on a major scale, bouncing back on a profitable note might be harder. However, office spaces, warehouses, manufacturing, and industrial plants are steadily scaling the stability cliff. With the pandemic being a reality of life henceforth, measures are being taken to make offices future-ready and more extensive.
Pre-pandemic, the standard definition of offices had been as places where people did their usual x-hours shift, maintained attendances, apart from joining meetings or even socializing with team members. During the pandemic and after the lockdown has been gradually lifted, companies have considered how offices can be utilized better and how variegated their functions can be. The top three concerns of post-pandemic offices will be working with –
- Remote operations
- Being a social hub
- Providing personalized and human experiences
Having said all that, the uptick in the demand for office spaces in Hyderabad and Bengaluru leaves a lot to the imagination. Why is it that the demand is still growing? What are the factors contributing to the growing demand and how to capitalize on the same?
All Work and No Play
The most important question that comes from the shutting down of office spaces – is working from home a reality that everyone can conform to? From a survey done by JLL on more than 3000 office workers across the globe, 58% missed going to the office and so did 65% among those under 35 years. This keeping in view that 71% of the sample set worked from home during the pandemic situation. 48% of this sample felt more productive being at home vs. working at the office. Admittedly, there are many scenarios and work profiles where tasks can be completed effectively from anywhere. There are also jobs where human interaction is a necessity and is mandatory. You must bear these aspects of the survey in mind.
The average human being is productive for a period of 3-4 hours per day. If you recount your work schedule and time your effort versus productivity, you might arrive at a similar number. At offices, however, the boundaries can be pushed via collaboration and direct interaction, without straining the brain or the body. While at home when people mostly consider that a closed, quiet environment can help, work profiles with dynamic task allocations often cannot prosper as easily. You might get a lot of time to rest, but you can also get carried away by the same.
The Offices of the Future
When looking up for a base of operations, companies used to settle down for any run-of-the-mill office space. That approach is set to change drastically. Modes of working, talent profiles, and the mix of human resources will be looked at from the perspective of what is most important in making a company operate most effectively.
With social distancing being the norm for about the best part of a year now, it is not going to go away anytime soon. While the commercial real estate market is seeing good growth in Bengaluru and Hyderabad (around 90% new completions), other non-metros might also see an uptick in sustainable workspaces. There are many companies whose modus operandi does not involve a mandatory physical presence. At the same time, collaborative work also requires much adaptation. This is the primary reason why instead of smaller spaces, wider areas will be in vogue. While vacancy in Grade A office spaces increased, as per JLL, in Bengaluru and Chennai the percentages stayed at single digits, signaling a strong rebound in the near future.
Flexibility is the catchphrase here. Office spaces will no longer be the destination of work only. Likewise, measures will be taken across industries to ensure better data privacy and security. Offices will be evolving at a very fast pace. Adoption of healthier work environments will be the top concern. This will result in newer and better CRE opportunities across India and the world.
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