The work environment has undergone a significant shift in recent years. The introduction and lasting impacts of hybrid work schedules are a force in commercial real estate. Hybrid schedules see employees returning to office environments 2-3 days a week on average with full weeks in the office a thing of the past for a large number of workers. As Property Managers, we find ourselves at ground zero. Our ability to shift, adapt, and be successful is being challenged each day. We asked our property managers about their most common hybrid schedule considerations within the portfolio. It’s interesting to note that some are unaffected at this point depending on property type with medical and manufacturing facilities experiencing very little change as hybrid schedules are proving less desirable in those instances.
The Need For Office Space
One of the most immediate and publicized impacts of hybrid work schedules on property managers is the changing demand for office space. With employees spending part of their week working remotely, companies are reevaluating their office space requirements. This can lead to downsizing or reconfiguring office layouts, which Property Managers must facilitate and plan for. It may also necessitate the incorporation of flexible workspace options to meet evolving tenant needs.
Enhanced Technology Infrastructure
Hybrid work schedules rely heavily on technology to facilitate communication and collaboration among remote and in-office employees. Property Managers must ensure that their properties are equipped with robust technology infrastructure, including high-speed internet, video conferencing facilities, and secure data networks. Keeping pace with these technological demands can be a significant challenge. In many cases it comes down to even the most basic IT needs like laptop computers which are now seeing more rigorous use. If your company relied heavily on the use of desktop computers the technology and space requirements of a laptop enabled workforce can mean changes in the physical office space.
Health and Safety Protocols
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work and heightened awareness of health and safety concerns in the workplace. Property Managers are now responsible for implementing and maintaining some level of health and safety protocols in common areas and may be called on for their expertise in tenant spaces. This includes sanitation measures, touchless entry systems, and improved air quality, all of which require additional resources and planning.
Tenants now have different expectations when it comes to their work environments. They require more flexible lease terms to accommodate changing workforce needs, such as shorter lease periods or options for expansion or contraction. Property Managers must be agile and responsive to these evolving tenant expectations to maintain high occupancy rates.
Building User Experience
Landlords and property managers are recognizing the importance of accommodating hybrid work schedules by offering well-equipped and flexible office spaces, advanced technology infrastructure, and amenities that cater to the lifestyle-centric needs of tenants. Property Managers are placing an emphasis on the importance of adaptability and tenant-centric amenities and services to create a thriving and sustainable office environment.
Employee Wellness Amenities
Hybrid work schedules emphasize the importance of employee well-being. As a result, property managers may find it beneficial to offer amenities that promote wellness, such as fitness centers, outdoor spaces, and communal areas for relaxation and socialization. Programming these spaces with interesting and interactive events and activities creates a more comfortable work environment. These amenities can enhance tenant satisfaction and attract new occupants.
Environmental consciousness is increasingly important to both businesses and individuals. As a result, Property Managers are taking sustainability into account, not only to meet regulatory requirements but also to meet tenant demand. Implementing energy-efficient systems, waste reduction programs, and green building practices can positively impact a property’s desirability and marketability.
Security and Access Control
With a mix of remote and in-office workers, security and access control can be complicated. Property Managers are managing secure access to the building while ensuring the safety of both employees and property assets. This might involve upgrading access control and surveillance systems and training security personnel.
The adoption of hybrid work schedules has challenged Property Managers to rise to a new level and quickly adapt. Managing technology requirements, health and safety protocols, tenant expectations, sustainability, and employee wellness combine to create a cornerstone of successful property management. Remaining positive and proactive, property managers can thrive in the hybrid work environment as their skills are needed now more than ever to establish the new normal and continue to deliver value as it relates to the work environment.