Workplaces of the future: The post-COVID office

Darren Fleming
Real Strategy CEO Darren Fleming says there are reasons to be skeptical that employees will rush back to the office, even after they're vaccinated.
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by Real Strategy Advisors.

Real Spaces magazine V3 coverBy Darren Fleming, MBA
CEO of Real Strategy Advisors

Since this is the first volume of 2021, I just want to echo everyone’s thoughts by saying good riddance to the year that was 2020 ... but let’s make sure we learn from it!

In the last issue we covered the impact that diminished social interaction, stress and remote work is having on office employees. The theme that consistently arose from our research and talks with business leaders was one of culture in transition. Right now, it’s important to realize that nobody really knows how and whether the hybrid office approach (i.e. providing both the option of remote work and a physical office) is going to be effective.

How will we maintain and strengthen collaborative relationships when working in a hybrid office setup – let alone bring in new people who require hands-on training and mentorship to grow and thrive? Everyone is speculating at this point. Industry experts and corporate leaders are doing the best they can to make informed and reasonable projections but most predictions are speculative nonetheless. Until we’re actually living and working in a post-COVID world, all we can do is stay curious about changing best practices and try to prepare for different possible outcomes.

The current expectation is that, upon re-opening, roughly 50 per cent of work will occur outside of the home in a physical office, but this will vary significantly by industry as well as on a case-by-case basis depending on a combination of employee preference and employer tolerance. Others may expect that once everyone is vaccinated, we’re all back to work but Real Strategy is skeptical of this type of thinking. From a commercial real estate perspective, “back to normal” presumes that we’ll all go back to working in physical office space in the same proportion we did before COVID-19 … however we are seeing no indicators that this is true.

The other shoe waiting to drop is whether the feds ditch a bunch of office space from their privately owned portfolio in the near future as they continue to shrink their footprint and renovate their properties to accommodate post-COVID layouts. In this issue, we are joined by experts in interior design and business administration who’ll help bring some clarity to the foggy future ahead of us while also highlighting the market insights from 20Q4 in Ottawa’s commercial real estate market.

Regardless of whether your office is currently in your home or not, just remember that you deserve amazing space!

Darren Fleming has been an industry leader in the commercial real estate sector for over 20 years providing expertise in the areas of workplace strategy and commercial real estate brokerage. Darren has worked with some of Ottawa’s most active commercial design builders and major commercial real estate brokerages. With exceptional consulting and business strategy skills, he is an experienced leader and provides C-Suite level advice to his clients.