ACRE / BOMA OFFICE GUIDE
How hybrid work is changing the office
By Bill Sessa
“ How are you gonna keep them down on the farm after they ’ ve seen Paree ?”
In the early 1900s , that song reflected a dilemma facing the country . Would soldiers return to rural farm life after they had seen the bright lights of the big city ?
Many businesses and their employees are asking a modern rhetorical version of that question in the post-pandemic world . Will workers who became accustomed to the flexibility of working from home ever willingly return to the office ?
Surveys show many workers reluctant to give up their freedom . Future Forums found that less than one-third of 10,000 people surveyed worked in an office every day , while 42 percent of executives spent the majority of a work week there . The survey also found that 95 percent of workers wanted more flexible schedules , while 75 percent of executives preferred working in the office every day .
A survey of 50,000 of the nation ’ s largest employers shows that nearly 20 percent of high-paying jobs were done remotely by the end of 2021 , compared to just four percent prior to the pandemic — a trend that is expected to continue .
The New Office Environment Businesses looking to adapt their workspace to a hybrid workforce face a Rubic ’ s Cube of choices dictated by company culture , the need to attract top talent in a tight labor market , rising real estate prices and higher costs of remodeling or downsizing space .
In parts of the Capital Region like Granite Bay , Chris Lemmon , executive vice president of Newmark , says he is seeing demand for larger spaces of up to 50,000 square feet as businesses plan for future expansion or compensate for shrinking their floorspace too much at the beginning of the pandemic . “ These companies know the employees are coming back , it ’ s just a matter of when ,” Lemmon says . “ Even if they are only in the office three days a week , people need a space to land .”
He says overall demand for office space in Sacramento has rebounded strongly , with occupancy at about 50 percent of prepandemic levels in suburban markets such as Roseville , Folsom and El Dorado Hills . The demand for retail space is also robust in those areas despite rental rate increases ranging from 3-10 percent , as workers with more flexible schedules can shop or run errands throughout the day .
By contrast , downtown Sacramento is lagging behind that recovery at about 25 percent of pre-pandemic occupancy levels due to many large spaces emptying out that were normally occupied by government agencies — a trend Lemmon sees in urban centers nationwide . “ People don ’ t feel safe going up 25 floors in an elevator with other people they don ’ t know ,” he
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