The New York City office market is very different in 2021 from how it was in 2019. With remote work becoming the norm and numerous office spaces left vacant in the aftermath of the pandemic, landlords and businesses alike have a challenging year ahead of them. There’s still no telling whether the trends that emerged in the past year will stay even after everyone is vaccinated, which means the NYC commercial real estate market is shrouded in uncertainty.
Some companies, like Facebook, are expanding their office footprint in the city, while others are allowing employees to work remotely indefinitely. According to CBRE data quoted by the New York Times, close to one-fifth of the total office space in Manhattan is currently unrented, marking a record high of 79 million square feet of NYC office space for rent. This puts heavy pressure on landlords to retain existing tenants or attract new ones, either through lower rents or concessions.
City officials and some experts are hopeful that people will eventually return to their Manhattan offices, and the city’s CRE market will bounce back once more. However, even if employees are to return, things will not simply ‘go back to normal.’ The entire world has changed, and with it, tenant expectations and requirements have also shifted dramatically. So, what do office workers look for in a post-pandemic world? Here are 6 factors that are already at the top of their priority list.
1. More personal space
Before the pandemic, open-office layouts and hotdesking were the most popular options for companies across the globe. Besides being a cost-effective option, allowing for a higher number of employees in one space, open offices were also meant to encourage collaboration. It’s safe to say that the pandemic has put things in an entirely new perspective, with some experts even stating that the open office is officially dead. Though that statement is debatable, one thing is sure: social distancing will be the top priority for office tenants post-pandemic. That’s not to say offices will revert to monotonous cubicles. Instead, employees will require more personal space, separators, semi-private or even private offices to come back to work safely.
2. Air quality
The days of window air conditioning units might soon be over, and landlords that don’t place the highest importance on office air quality might have trouble finding suitable tenants. However, retrofits and building-wide upgrades are a significant investment, especially during times of crisis, and this factor puts newer buildings at an advantage. Even after Covid-19 becomes a thing of the past, fears of potential epidemics and pandemics will drive tenants to seek spaces that offer the highest air quality. State-of-the-art, tenant-controlled HVAC systems and modern ventilation and air purifying technology will be a top priority for tenants in 2021 and beyond.
3. Touchless technology
Needless to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has made people significantly more aware of hygiene and sanitation in the workplace. Consequently, office tenants will look for touchless technology integrated throughout a building, from touchless elevators and touchless building access to lighting and temperature sensors and automatic features in bathrooms and pantries. Motion-activated technology and sensor-activated disinfectant dispensers are now must-haves in the workplace, and they’re here to stay. Essentially, people want to avoid touching highly trafficked surfaces as much as possible, so landlords have to leverage existing technologies to attract tenants.
4. Access to outdoor space
Gone are the days of working overtime in cramped cubicles with no breaks. Nowadays, employees are placing a lot more importance on work-life balance and their physical and mental health. Access to outdoor space, natural lighting, and fresh air is a big part of that, and if tenants can’t have that in the workplace, they might be better inclined to work from home. Workers are no longer all required to come to work in person, so office spaces have to be enticing enough to get them to leave the comfort of their home offices. Buildings that offer access to terraces, balconies, rooftop gardens, or proximity to public parks will have a definite advantage in 2021 and beyond. What’s more, access to natural light and less reliance on artificial lights will be another sought-after amenity for companies looking to rent office space in NYC.
5. A transit-oriented location
Before 2020, transit-oriented office buildings that offer easy access to public transportation options were highly desirable for companies of all sizes. In 2021, transportation facilities will continue to play a significant role in a company’s search for office space, albeit not in the same way. Many employees are still reluctant to use public transportation and prefer to walk, bike, or even drive to work, or otherwise work from home. While people will eventually return to using public transport, easy access to bike paths and parking spaces will be highly sought-after amenities. What’s more, bicycle storage and electric car charging stations can also put landlords at an advantage.
The pandemic that emerged in 2020 did lead people and businesses to make positive changes at home and work. One of these changes involves a deeper focus on work-life balance and flexibility. During lockdown, many companies realized that some employees are more productive when they work from home. Others understood that a more flexible schedule and hybrid work model might lead to higher employee satisfaction post-pandemic. At the same time, landlords understood that to adapt quickly to change and accommodate different tenant needs, they must also be flexible. This need to adapt has led to the increased popularity of modular office furniture, allowing landlords to adjust space quickly. Whether there’s a necessity for more private meeting rooms or offices, or partitions dividing different departments, modular office furniture and accessories can help make that happen. They’re also a much more cost-effective method compared to a build-out or office renovation.
Are you thinking of setting up your business in a convenient location in Manhattan, and are looking to lease space in a modern building offering state-of-the-art amenities? Then reach out to us and we will show you worthwhile space situated right in the heart of New York City. To learn about available office space, call Metro Manhattan Office Space at (212) 444-2241 or email us at [email protected]