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What Happens When We Return to the Office?

Originally published on May 18, 2020 by Elizabeth Brink and Arnold Levin

At Gensler, we’ve been thinking hard about how to help our clients through these extraordinary times. As we’ve adjusted to the strange reality of the global work-from-home experiment, our clients have begun to ask what the future of work holds post-pandemic.

In order to move forward, we must rethink past workplace design paradigms, mine the present situation for lessons learned, and create smart, scenario-based road maps for how, and when, we return to the office.

The Workplace Context

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Even Coronavirus May Not Quell Appetite For Flexible Office Space

Bisnow interviewed Michael Kloppenburg, senior consultant for flexible office solutions at Avison Young, and Daniel Levinson, chairman, CRE Holdings, subject matter experts for NAIOP’s new Real Estate as a Service course on the REaaS model.

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What’s Happening with the Office Market? A Real-time Brokerage and Legal Perspective

As workers largely operate remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, will the shift out of the traditional office permanently change the sector? Register for the next Advantage Series webinar, April 8, 2 p.m. ET, to hear two experts share their perspectives on how the pandemic and its ripple effects have impacted office leasing activities and rates. 

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COVID-19’s Impact on CRE: What We Know Today (and Don't)

Join NAIOP Charlotte on Tuesday, March 24th at 2-2:30 p.m. ET for The Advantage Series is an exclusive member benefit, delivering expert insights into the latest research to help you make informed business decisions.

Repercussions from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are far-reaching and still quite unknown, but one thing is for certain: the impact on commercial real estate will be substantial. A week ago, CRE fundamentals were solid; will that improve our recovery timeline? What do experts see for the potential future of the industry? How do you recognize a deal today, and know whether it’s better to act quickly or hold? The questions are numerous, and NAIOP is here with guidance to support you today and get you thinking ahead for tomorrow. Have a question for our speakers? Submit it now.

Speakers:
Larry Lance, Executive Vice President-Asset Services, EverWest Real Estate Investors, and 2020 NAIOP Chairman
Al Pontius, National Director of Office & Industrial, Marcus & Millichap
John Chang, National Director of Research Services, Marcus & Millichap

Click Here to Register

The Forces Shaping Office Space Demand Webinar

Posted on November 26, 2019

Get the inside track on upcoming opportunities in the office sector in this member-only webinar on Dec. 17, 2-3 p.m. EST. This webinar will provide insights and data from the latest NAIOP Office Space Demand Forecast, and identify linkages between overall economic activity and the demand for office real estate.

Learn More & Register Here

New Report: Office Leasing Activity to Sustain Momentum as US Economic Expansion Continues

Posted on December 6, 2019

The NAIOP Research Foundation has published the NAIOP Office Space Demand Forecast for Q4 2019.

Key Takeaways:

  • The U.S. office market continues to perform as expected, with an average of 14.7 million square feet absorbed per quarter in 2019.
     
  • The forecast for the remainder of 2019 and 2020 remains strong at an average of 13.2 million square feet absorbed per quarter in 2020 and 12.7 million square feet per quarter in 2021.
     
  • At present, the economy – and thus the office markets – are expected to remain in an upcycle for at least the next 18 months.
     
  • The effects of the WeWork situation are likely to be isolated to a small set of markets and will not broadly impact the national office market. The company's inability to expand may generate more demand for direct leases in some markets, but overall, coworking appears to be a long-term trend, and the forecast will likely resist any short-term impacts caused by WeWork's recent troubles.

Firms might slow their expansion plans in 2020, reducing the need for new office space, in reaction to overall fears of a slowdown. Still, most measures of consumer health, including wage growth, job growth and consumption expenditures, remain strong.

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The Suburban Office Park, an Aging Relic, Seeks a Comeback

Posted on November 25, 2019

By 

When Research Triangle Park in North Carolina opened in 1959, its bucolic setting was considered a major selling point. With office buildings hidden behind grassy meadows and swaths of pine forest, the quiet development was viewed as a perfect spot for the thinkers who went to work at companies like IBM and RTI International.

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New Report: The Evolution of Suburban Office Parks

Posted on October 7, 2019

The NAIOP Research Foundation has published a new report titled "Profiles in the Evolution of Suburban Office Parks," by Dustin C. Read, Ph.D./J.D.

The author interviewed five developers who have recently updated suburban office parks in the United States and Canada to learn how they made these properties relevant for today's market.

Key Takeaways:

  • Redeveloped office parks must fit the preferences of the local workforce and the needs of local employers.
  • Developers should seek to understand local officials' priorities.
  • Developers should build flexibility into their plans and partner with creditors who understand that they may need to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Developers can maximize the value of their improvements by leveraging design, technology and amenities to develop a property's identity and build community.
  • Rebranding is often a critical component of a successful redevelopment strategy.
 Read the Report.

Profiles in the Evolution of Suburban Office Parks

Posted on September 22, 2019

By Dustin Read

The NAIOP Research Foundation has published a new report titled "Profiles in the Evolution of Suburban Office Parks," by Dustin C. Read, Ph.D./J.D.

The author interviewed five developers who have recently updated suburban office parks in the United States and Canada to learn how they made these properties relevant for today's market.

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US Office Market Continues to Expand Ahead of Forecast

Posted July 9, 2019

By Dr. Harry Guirguis and Dr. Joshua Harris

Office Leasing Activity Expected to Grow Amid Sustained U.S. Economic Strength

The U.S. office market continues to expand ahead of forecast, posting 18 million square feet of net absorption in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 11 million square feet in the first quarter of 2019. Continued economic growth and increases in job creation are likely the main forces behind these levels of new leasing.

With first-quarter U.S. GDP growth of 3.2% annualized and a current unemployment rate of 3.6%, U.S. office space demand should remain strong during 2019. Dr. Harry Guirguis, Manhattan College, and Dr. Joshua Harris, New York University expect demand to register an average of 13.5 million square feet of net absorption per quarter, which will moderate slightly to an average of 12.7 million square feet per quarter in 2020. This forecast is driven by continued expected strength in office-using employment, which has grown twice as fast as general employment. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s March 2019 jobs report, the primary office-using sector, Professional and Business Services, grew 1.22% year-over-year compared to just 0.6% for total nonfarm employment.

Click here to read more and download report.

The Workplace Makeover: From Office to Destination

Posted July 8, 2019

By Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen

To lure top talent, employers must integrate technology and unique experiences into their spaces.

The future of cities is predicated on people. As engines of economic growth, urban areas are the life source of the built environment, with 80 percent of global GDP resulting from their output. The most vibrant cities are those that attract diverse talent with varied skills, perspectives and backgrounds. All of this is driving change and transformation in how people live, work and play.

Looking at the built environment, there is no place that is being more profoundly impacted than the workplace. To retain and inspire the best talent, the most successful organizations will be the ones that adapt their workplace strategies to focus on creating a destination with visceral experiences, an “always in beta approach” and purpose through space.

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Big Data in Office Buildings Holds Promise Despite Privacy Worries

Posted on March 29, 2019

By Margarita Foster

Property managers are using “dynamic and multidimensional” information for operations but not yet for tenant engagement.

A white paper published by the NAIOP Research Foundation titled “The Office Property and Big Data Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together”found that office building owners are capturing, storing and analyzing data to operate building systems but not to recruit and retain tenants.

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CRE Must-Reads

Posted on January 21, 2019

  • Debunking The Three Myths Of Commercial Real Estate Technology - Forbes (Jan. 2, 2019) Read more
  • Google's Take on Co-Working and Sharing Spaces - GlobeSt.com – Subscription required (Jan. 7, 2019) Read more
  • In 2069, Your Food Will Shop for You - Medium (Jan. 3, 2019) Read more
  • Opportunity Zones: Navigating A Path to Investment - Newmark Knight Frank (December 2018) Read more
  • The surge in online-shopping returns has boosted the warehouse sector - CNBC (Jan. 4, 2019) Read more
  • Why developers are offering 'experiences' to attract suburbanites - Washington Post (Jan. 3, 2019) Read more
  • The Year Ahead: Down But Not Out - GlobeSt.com – Subscription required (Jan. 7, 2019) Read more

Resurgence in Office Leasing Due to Breakout Economic Growth

Posted on December 13, 2018

By Dr. Hany Guirguis and Dr. Joshua Harris

The U.S. office market posted solid net absorption levels in the second and third quarters of 2018 of 18.0 million and 11.0 million square feet, respectively. This level of new leasing is likely due to higher-than-expected economic growth and the subsequent demand brought about by jobs created in the office-using sectors.

Due to third quarter 2018 U.S. GDP growth of 3.5 percent and a current unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, 2018 is expected to register nearly 13.0 million square feet of net absorption per quarter, significantly outpacing 2017 and 2016 when the quarterly figures averaged 9.5 million and 10.4 million square feet, respectively. The forecast is strongly dependent on continued annual economic growth near 3.0 percent, which seems plausible for all of 2019 and into 2020 given current data.

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Designing Spaces to Create Great Experiences

Posted on December 12, 2018

By Andy Cohen

A Gensler study quantifies that the right design can result in great experiences, which in turn are great for business.

Today, the goal of every project that forward-thinking architects design is to give people positive experiences. Clients in every sector, including commercial real estate, are struggling to keep up with the dramatidec evolution of how people work, live and shop today – and those who aren’t are sacrificing business performance. To better understand – and to quantify – the link between design and delivery of a great experience, Gensler developed the Gensler Experience Index, a first-of-its-kind mixed-methods research approach to create a holistic Experience Framework for understanding experience and quantifying the effect of design on that experience.

The Gensler Experience Index is the result of a rigorous investigation that combined qualitative ethnographic research with quantitative research to identify the design factors that are most important in creating exceptionally great spaces and places. After several years, five roundtables, 60+ hours of one-on-one ethnographic observations and a survey of more than 4,000 consumers, the Gensler Experience Index  quantifies and brings greater depth to what many in the design industry already knew instinctively – that great design is an important component of great experiences.

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Resurgence in Office Leasing Due to Breakout Economic Growth

Posted on November 21, 2018

The NAIOP Research Foundation has published the NAIOP Office Space Demand Forecast for Q4 2018.

Key Takeaways

  • 2018 is expected to register nearly 13.0 million square feet of net absorption per quarter, significantly outpacing 2017 and 2016 when the quarterly figures averaged 9.5 million and 10.4 million square feet, respectively. 
  • The current macroeconomic expansion will most likely continue beyond next summer, which will officially make it the longest sustained economic growth period in U.S. history. 
  • However, the biggest limitation to the expansion of firms that use office space is likely to be the ability to hire qualified employees.

Regarding office space demand, the ultimate determinant of long-term growth will be how the business sector reacts to rising wages and interest rates.

View the forecast.

Putting Together the Office Property and Big Data Puzzle

Posted on October 15, 2018

By Jennifer Lefurgy, Ph.D.

The use of technology in office building operations has come a long way from motion-controlled light sensors and key card entry systems. Building owners and operators are beginning to use an array of increasingly sophisticated software and hardware to gather more information about how their buildings can not only can work more efficiently, but give them insights into how to attract and retain tenants. The NAIOP Research Foundation’s new report, The Office Property and Big Data Puzzle: Putting The Pieces Together, by Kimberly Winson-Geideman, Ph.D., discusses what defines big data, how it is being used by building owners, and some of the issues those who are working with big data should consider.

Big data is defined as high-volume, high-variety and high-velocity information that is produced in either structured formats (e.g., sensor data) or unstructured formats (e.g., pictures, text). The sheer influx of big data can be overwhelming for many companies; they often choose to sit on the data they collect with no concrete plans to use it. Therefore, some firms, particularly those without the resources to sift through large amounts of data, risk missing valuable information that could improve their bottom line and position them favorably in an increasingly competitive market.

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Marcus and Millichap: Competition for Staff Invigorates Office Space Demand

Posted on July 16, 2018

The number of available U.S. jobs now exceeds the number of people out of work and seeking employment. At the end of April, job openings stood at 6.7 million while the number of unemployed reached 6.3 million. The June 2018 Marcus and Millichap Research Brief finds that an effect of a competitive labor market is that office-using employment is driving down office vacancy rates, and over the past 12 months, the professional and business sector has been expanding at a faster pace than overall employment, driving up office demand. The professional and business sector added almost 500,000 jobs and grew at 2.5 percent compared to the national rate of 1.6 percent. The increased hiring, according to the report, drove down the national office vacancy to 13.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

Amenitize to Survive: Why traditional amenities are no longer enough

Posted on June 19, 2018

Years ago, the key to attracting and retaining a talented workforce was to relax the rules a bit: Casual Fridays, flexible work hours and teleworking were the employee perks du jour.

Now, the competition for top talent is driven by the demand for amenities of the less tangible type. The highly specialized labor force seeks a “more interactive, collaborative and socially vibrant office environment,” with “amenities that enliven the workplace and create the elusive concept of community,” according to NAIOP Research Foundation report, Activating Office Building Common Spaces for Competitive Advantage.

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Top Office Obstacles: Parking and Technology

Posted on June 11, 2018

According to a new Cushman and Wakefield report, Space Matters: Key Office Trends and Metrics, two important trends in office space include technology amenities and parking. Common amenities – such as fitness centers and cost-effective food options – remain very important but there is ample opportunity for growth in how technology-related amenities are leveraged by occupiers and landlords. Despite advances in technology, researchers found many office building owners continue to struggle with some of the most basic offerings such as seamless, high-speed internet and cellular service.

In many urban submarkets, parking supply is a challenge and high prices have been forcing innovative solutions. According to the report, the predominant reason people utilize ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft is to avoid parking. In some cases, this has led owners to provide valet or shuttle services to connect offices with off-site parking, including garages in different parts of a city.