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Saturday, Mar 2, 2024

Office Building of the Future

In this special report, the Business Journal has talked with professionals from a number of disciplines involved in the office market to collect their thoughts on how office space will be transformed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The transformation will encompass both the physical dimensions and function of an office tower to the financial and legal aspects of leasing and working in it; as well as the ownership and interior design. Gone for good, most likely, is the open-floor co-working space concept popularized by WeWork, and other companies. The virus could also mean the end of “hoteling,” a concept championed by Los Angeles commercial real estate brkerage CBRE Group Inc. in which employees are not assigned permanent desks. Sheryl Mazirow, president of Mazirow Commercial Inc., a Westlake Village commercial real estate broker specializing in tenant representation, said social distancing will become the norm in offices, taking priority over the need to maximize space and create a dense workplace. “Obviously, that is not going to continue,” Mazirow said. Smaller footprints, social distancing, touchless features in bathrooms and elsewhere are what Mazirow said she foresees for the office of the future. Businesses may stagger their workforce during the week – Team A on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Team B on Tuesday and Thursday, for instance. But there will still be a need for collaboration, innovation and connection, she added. Amenities are important to commercial office buildings to differentiate them from the competition. But with COVID-19, building owners may want to have second thoughts about putting in a gym or restaurant on the ground floor, Mazirow said. “Those will have to adhere to social distancing and are they going to be practical for the operators to support the rent,” she said. How quickly tenants return to their office buildings will be determined by how safe they feel there. To smooth that process, landlords will likely install touchless soap and paper towel dispensers in restrooms. Other high touchpoint items such as elevator buttons are less likely to be changed though, Mazirow said. “I do not know who will be responsible for keeping the touchpoints clean,” she said. “It is a very challenging situation.” What this all adds up to is a shift away from a market that favored the landlord – with low vacancies, high prices and minimal concessions – to a market that favors the tenant, Mazirow said. “You are going to see lower pricing and higher vacancies due to smaller footprints,” she noted. – Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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