Here’s what global real estate leaders expect the post-pandemic workplace to look like

by Brianna Crandall — January 15, 2021 — Global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield has just released a report examining what industry leaders expect their future workplaces to look like in a post-pandemic environment following the anticipated successful distribution of the COVID-19 vaccination.

The new report, Workplace Ecosystems of the Future, developed by Cushman & Wakefield’s global research team, includes focus group and survey insights from building owners with just under US$900 billion in assets under management, building occupiers representing $574 billion in annual revenue, and business improvement district executive directors in major US markets containing over 350 million square feet of office space.

Among other findings, there is strong consensus among leaders that declines in workplace culture, innovation and creativity are inevitable when people work entirely remotely. Hybrid working, where employees spend part of the week working in the office and the other part working from home or in a third location, is expected to more than double going forward, while exclusively remote structures will remain the exception.

In addition, the real estate industry is expected to become nimbler as tenants require greater flexibility in terms of space, amenities and leasing terms.

David C. Smith, global head of Occupier Research at Cushman & Wakefield, remarked:

These testimonies and research findings provide further evidence that people still need a space to collaborate, innovate and stay connected — and the office provides that. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to test remote work. Moving forward, occupiers will need to strike the right balance between remote and in-office work, and our research indicates a need for fundamental change in the culture and flexibility of the real estate industry in order to remain relevant in a post-pandemic environment.

This report (Part 3) is the latest and third of Cushman & Wakefield’s four-part global research series exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on the future of office and the workplace, New Perspective: From Pandemic to Performance:

  • Part 1: Global Office Impact Study and Recovery Timing
  • Part 2: Purpose of Place: History and Future of the Office
  • Part 3: Workplace Ecosystems of the Future
  • Part 4: (Coming in February)

Part 1 (see FMLink article) projected that the world’s office leasing fundamentals will be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 recession and the work-from-home trend, but that they will ultimately begin to improve in 2022 and will fully recover two to three years later.

Parts 2 and 3 are derived from Cushman & Wakefield’s own analysis of 5.5 million data points from workers around the globe, in affiliation with the George Washington University (GWU) School of Business Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis and Places Platform, a place-based national real estate proptech firm.

Part 2’s retrospective analysis examines how we’ve come to rely on offices, and the unlikeliness of the office to disappear, particularly given the types of economies likely to reemerge in a post-pandemic world. This includes:

  • The knowledge economy, which is a result of job growth in technology, science, design and professional services; and
  • The experience economy, which includes tourism, sporting events and other live events.

The upcoming fourth and final part of the global research series (Part 4) will examine external factors shaping the future of work, including technological, political change, and economic drivers.

To download the Workplace Ecosystems of the Future report and watch the accompanying on-demand webinar, or to download the whole New Perspective: From Pandemic to Performance series, visit the Cushman & Wakefield website.

Cushman & Wakefield’s approximately 53,000 employees in 400 offices and 60 countries deliver value for real estate occupiers and owners across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, valuation and other services.