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Office spaces: evolving for relevance

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OFFICE vacancies in the Philippines rose to 14.7 percent during the first quarter of 2021. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PIXABAY

As retail and hotel properties gradually get back in the groove after the pandemic struck, the opposite is true for the office sector. Nonetheless, the forecast is that revamping office spaces to fit hybrid work setups, the property sector can likewise bounce back.

In a report by investment management firm JLL, there was a 14.7-percent increase in office vacancies in the first quarter of 2021. This was due to move-outs, downsizing, pre-terminations and, generally, the softening of the demand.

Notwithstanding the pandemic-driven decisions of office tenants to rely on remote setups, JLL’s global head of research Dr. Maria Puybaraud said during the firm’s latest market overview webinar, that in no time, offices will regain a strong demand as the economy gets back on its feet.

TRANSFORMING offices for hybrid work setups also require revamped work rules. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CKAB

“The office will remain the center of the work ecosystem,” she said.

Hybrid work setups
This optimism was drawn from the firm’s latest survey among employees showing that 66 percent prefer to get into hybrid working setups that mean going to the office at least three times a week.

From the same data, only 10 percent want to work remotely — as opposed to the 24 percent that want to exclusively work in the office.

OFFICES remain as social hubs for employees to thrive in their work. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PEXELS/EDMOND DANTES

With employees preferring to work in offices, Puybaraud said that equipping these spaces with the latest technology is the best option to fulfill the needs of employees.

A hybrid workspace means an office that can maintain a network between those who physically report to work and those who are following a remote setup. Puybaraud called it the “future of work continuum” because it will not only need physical tweaks but also management changes.

HYBRID workspaces allow employee engagement to continue through technology. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PEXELS/EDWARDJENNER

Through technology, hybrid workplaces allow combination of different solutions in one management to ensure work productivity while taking care of the employees’ welfare.

JLL’s country head Christopher Vicic pointed out that “we need technology and digital enablement with the people, the work at its center” to genuinely transform the vacated office spaces into a workplace offering a hybrid setup.

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