Zoom culture 'likely to reduce office space demand long-term' - survey

A new survey from US-based Corenet Global suggests that firms' overall corporate footprint is likely to shrink as a result of the new remote work culture, with virtual meetings likely to last beyond the immediate Covid-19 crisis.

An April survey (22-27 April) of its 11,000 members sought to gauge the evolving corporate real estate response to the coronavirus challenge, while trying to identify practical steps members can take to support their companies’ efforts to ensure business continuity.

The longer-term adaptation of remote and virtual work were reported in significant numbers, with 94% of end users believing that expanded use of remote working will last beyond the current crisis (up from 89% in the last survey held 25-27 March).

Some 69% of respondents said that their company’s real estate footprint will shrink as a result of increased work from home (up from 51% in the previous survey). Meanwhile, 70% of those surveyed said that real estate projects have been put on hold (up from 67% in the previous survey).

Challenges
However, these trends are not without challenges, respondents said. These included being unable to have the kind of collaboration that occurs when everyone is together in the same room; issues with developing a long-term workplace strategy and remote working strategy; and figuring out the framework and details of return-to-office plans.

End users also drew attention to mental health aspects, citing frequent check-ins to verify emotional toll, and the extra time required to manage at a distance. Looking forward, concerns included accessing adequate supplies of hand sanitiser and masks.

Around 19% of end user respondents reported that their companies had experienced layoffs due to Covid-19, nearly double the figure revealed in the previous survey (10%).

Growing optimism
However, many reported that optimism was growing. While survey respondents’ short-term economic outlook is less bullish than their longer-term outlook, it is more optimistic than it was during the previous survey.

When asked 'Are you more or less optimistic about the economic future over the next three months?' the average rating (on a 1-5 scale, with 1 = low and 5 = high) was 2.5 for both end users and service providers. In the previous survey, the average rating was 2.3.

When that time frame is expanded to six months, the service provider rating jumped to 3.13 (up from 3.0 in the previous survey), while the end user rating (2.95) remained essentially unchanged from the previous survey (3.0).

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