The Challenge of Charlotte’s Commercial Real Estate
The technology to work remotely has been around long before the onset of COVID-19, and yet many companies still chose to operate in a physical space. Perhaps it had to do with security, the social aspect of work, or just a stubborn resistance to change, but one thing is certain: The shift towards remote work is saving companies thousands of dollars in rent. With that said, it could be difficult to convince business leaders that going back to a traditional office setting is worth it, and yet some Charlotte developers are betting big that they will.
This February, developers unveiled a drawing showing the new 23-story, 370,000-sq.-ft. tower planned at the East/West LYNX Blue Line which connects the area to Charlotte’s other corporate hubs like Ballantyne in what appears to be part of a larger public transit initiative. Other companies close by include Lowe’s, which is building its global tech headquarters in Charlotte, and Charlotte-based LendingTree, which is also moving its headquarters to the area.
Meanwhile, other business leaders have pointed out that there’s already enough vacant office space. Could continued development put even more pressure on real estate investment groups and commercial agents? Only time will tell whether or not businesses go back to the old ways, embrace the future of remote work, or strike a balance with a hybrid of the two work settings.
Do People Even Want to Go Back to the Office?
Whether or not employees actually want to return to the office remains up in the air. One survey performed by the commercial real estate firm JLL found that 70% of employees want to return to the office in the future. However, Business Insider published an article in July of 2020 saying that a separate survey of 750,000 people revealed that only 4% of employees want to go back to the office full-time after the pandemic.
Likely, people will want to return to the office part-time for the social or collaborative aspect of work. In fact, nearly half of respondents in the JLL study said they hope their “new” office will prioritize socialization spaces such as coffee areas, and lounges. Whether or not the employees’ desires are worth the premium of prime real estate in a swanky downtown tower or a financial district pad will vary based on their employer. At the very least, companies will likely reduce the size of their physical footprint moving forward.
The Future of Office Space
While many companies have committed to a fully remote model, it’s likely that many will take to a hybrid model post-pandemic allowing employees to work from home most of the time. Inevitably, that means some companies will downsize but it also means smaller companies can get a slice of “temporary collaboration space” in the same areas. Regardless, it’s not time to count out commercial office space just yet.
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