Post-pandemic offices: healthier and more sustainable?
The last two years and all the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have shed a whole new light on the challenges that owners of modern office buildings must face on a daily basis. Certain aspects that had been considered of rather minor importance have now become dominant. The pandemic has also accelerated a number of processes and implementation of solutions that transform work environment.
The shift to remote working observed globally has highlighted and reinforced the role of technology in many areas of the economy, including the real estate market. This was particularly evident in the early stages of the pandemic, when we had to adapt to a new reality almost instantly. At that time, we were faced with the challenge of how to “re-build” relationships with tenants and how to work together to create a completely different, new work environment. Technological solutions that were already known in the market, but previously treated as an extra benefit, for instance virtual tours of buildings or video-conferences, have become vital. During the pandemic, they allowed us to present individual office building spaces and keep in touch with our tenants and potential clients.
In the medium term, when we observed that companies were strongly committed to come back to offices, the role of technology has also proved invaluable. Any mobile, touchless solutions that allow for effective building management and provide a safe and comfortable use of all facility functions are indispensable. From my conversations with tenants, it seems that many companies understand even more clearly than before the pandemic the importance of the physical workplace in shaping the culture of the organization, building bonds between employees, and enhancing their creativity and performance. However, the office must be adapted to the new reality, and technology, among other things, helps to achieve it.
Tenants are certainly more aware of the significance of health and its crucial role for many employees. This growing trend also encompasses environment-related topics. Advanced green and sustainable solutions, such as low-energy lighting, water conservation and rainwater harvesting systems, and the use of renewable energy, among others, are now strongly desired by companies looking for office space. The task of the landlord and manager today is to provide not only a work place but to offer sustainability solutions (such as renewable energy solutions), health (such as air filters or vegan menu in the canteen) and amenities (such as green areas) that contribute to the good health and well-being of the employees of a given company. In our everyday work, we strive to meet these expectations by constantly improving facilities in our portfolio, such as Konstruktorska Business Center or Oxygen Park.
We remember very well that in the initial phase of the pandemic, all tenancy processes slowed down or were even suspended. This was the time when tenants were experiencing home office and they were not sure about the future use of the office spaces. In my opinion, however, many companies have made great use of this period, as they conducted a detailed analysis within their organizations and worked out scenarios for how to operate in the future while waiting for the situation to develop. The tenants now have clear ideas about how they want to shape their offices. The hybrid office model and remote working have been accepted by most of the employers, while the discussion between tenants and us, as building owners, has become broader to include new aspects, such as well-being. One of our key responsibilities is to provide property users with a green and diverse work environment that has a positive impact on their well-being. A green, sustainable building reduces the negative impact of human activity on the environment, and an office located in such a building creates comfortable conditions to grow a business.