Office Space Survey

By on Dec 2, 2020 in News

The findings of the first BOMA International COVID-19 Commercial Real Estate Impact Study reveal that the death of the office is greatly exaggerated. While many tenants are reassessing the use and the size of their physical offices, a strong majority (74%) see their in-person office space as vital to conducting successful business.

The nationwide survey of more than 3,000 office space decisions-makers and influencers gauged tenant sentiments relating to COVID-19, including its impact on their business and their attitude towards the physical work environment and office space decisions going forward. It was conducted in September and October of 2020 in conjunction with Brightline Strategies, with a grant from Yardi.

The study’s key findings include:

  • 65% of commercial office decision-makers continue to see significant value in on-site business operations, particularly as it relates to collaboration, coaching and culture.
  • The economic headwinds on office tenants are far reaching, with 33% of respondents saying they have experienced at least a 25% revenue decline since the onset of the pandemic.
  • While a strong majority see office space as vital, 61% of respondents across all tenant sizes report they will reassess space needs.
  • 78% approve of the response their current property owner/operator has implemented during COVID-19.
  • 47% of all tenants say their landlord’s coronavirus response exclusively has made them more likely to renew.
  • 77% are confident they understand how to reduce and manage risk in their physical office.

At the outset of the survey, 55% of respondents said they plan to renew their leases, unsurprisingly lower than the Brightline Strategies six-year national index of 78%. However, renewal likelihood increases 11 points — rising to 66% — if properties implement operational changes including new services, features and physical spaces in response to the pandemic. This uptick indicates a true inflection point, showing that a change in operations helps assure and retain tenants.

Maximization of fresh air is the “most important” measure for properties to adopt, according to tenants. Additionally, more than 40% of respondents indicated that they would pay supplementary fees for disinfecting stations and twice-daily full office disinfecting.

The collective sentiment toward amenities is changing too. There is less focus on traditional built-ins, like onsite gyms and cafes. Almost half say they are seeing more value in personal relationships with their property management company/teams.

“Our collective charge was to help owners and operators better understand, mitigate and proactively address emerging industry trends, shifts in workplace priorities and tenant preferences resulting from COVID-19, as well as changes in market attitudes towards the physical work environment and their impacts on office space decisions going forward,” said Robert Teel, vice president of global solutions, at Yardi.

Although COVID-19 continues to be a disruptive force for the office sector and its tenants, the value of the office as a key ingredient of business success remains strong.

“We have seen a steady and significant rebound in the perceived value and utility of physical office environments since the onset of the pandemic, with nearly 75% of all tenant decision-makers across the country affirming that in-person offices are operationally vital to their businesses, long-term growth and sustainability,” said Henry H. Chamberlain, APR, FASAE, CAE, president and COO of BOMA International. “As our ‘new normal’ emerges, we will become increasingly focused on the form and function of office environments in a post-pandemic world.”

Explore more survey data in the BOMA International COVID-19 Commercial Real Estate Impact Study executive summary, including renewal forecasts and space reduction estimates by renewal horizon.

Read the press release.