Prior to the pandemic, just 3.6%1 of employed people in the USA ‘usually’ worked remotely. In the UK that figure was 4.7%. Even in The Netherlands, often seen as the ultimate example of a flexible working culture, just 14.1% of the country’s workforce worked remotely. In Canada, 16.6%2 of businesses reported that 10% or more of their workforce was working remotely and like many things however, COVID-19 has completely changed all of that. As of May 29, 2020, Statistics Canada found that 32.6% of businesses, nearly double the percentage prior to the pandemic, reported 10% or more of their workforce was working remotely.
A Gensler survey found that 12%3 of U.S. workers want to work from home full time, while 70% would prefer to be in the office most of the week. In the UK, other surveys suggest that around 44% of workers will ask for permanent flexible working arrangements after COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted.
Whichever way you look at it, work culture is set to change forever and that has huge implications for commercial real estate operators. Alongside the sizable logistical challenge of returning tenants to the workplace safely and efficiently, office owners now need to think longer term about how they are going to handle this change. They must ensure that they can be flexible with flexible work and solve one key challenge in particular: how to keep tenants loyal to their building.
Fundamentally, if tenants are happy with a workplace, employers are happy too; if tenants feel loyalty to a workspace, employers do too. However, as tenants spend less time working in their company office, building operators will now need to work twice as hard to earn that loyalty.