Many Happy Returns

Companies and Building Managers Gear Up for Occupancy.

As frontline building management professionals and tenants prepare for post-pandemic occupancy, they’ve developed plans and outfitted buildings to support safety, comfort, and well-being. And even though companies plan to accommodate remote work, they say many employees lack access to stable, high-speed internet services at home.

These are a few results from a return-to-occupancy survey of more than 450 facility and building managers and real estate consultants in the U.S. and Canada, conducted between June and August 2021.The Counselors of Real Estate was among the corporate sponsors for the survey, which was conducted by commercial real estate adviser Blue Skyre IBE and market research company HarrisX.

Colleagues talking at workstations

© Thomas Barwick / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Supporting Work-From-Home Costs

Companies plan to support working from home by providing or reimbursing employees for software (70%) and office equipment such as printers, computers, and mobile or landline phones (69%) and by offering well-being reimbursement (46%). Nearly half (45%) say they’ll support working from home by offering new financial subsidies for home expenses such as rent or mortgage reimbursement and insurance. However, 40% of respondents estimate at least half of the employees at their facilities lack high-speed internet connectivity at home to facilitate remote work.

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Reoccupancy Plans Put Safety First

Eighty-six percent of managers say leadership’s top concern is the safety, health, and well-being of employees, occupants, and visitors. Building managers are preparing for potential COVID-19 surges: 60% have a documented contingency plan, and 30% are preparing one.

Nearly all respondents (94%) say their buildings either have been or are being equipped with improved HVAC air filtration systems. Two-thirds of buildings will have hand sanitation stations and frequent cleaning of high-touch areas, and 62% of those surveyed say temperature checks will be required to enter the office.

How the Workspace Will Change

Fifty-five percent of respondents say they plan to have more than half their staff spend at least three days in the office; 23% say workers will spend 50% of their time in the office; and 21% expect most staff to work remotely most of the time.

Three-quarters of building managers surveyed plan to increase the number of conference and meeting rooms with networked audio and visual capabilities, while nearly two-thirds foresee more conference rooms for 10 or fewer people and more outdoor meeting areas. Despite the increase in work from home and anticipated changes to the workspace, more than half (54%) say their organization isn’t planning to change their real estate footprint by either increasing or decreasing square footage.

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