Real Estate Advisor,
Commercial Real Estate Group of Tucson
Your commercial space needs may look quite different both in the short term and long term as you and your workforce adjust to the effects of the COVID-19 disruption. Here at Commercial Real Estate Group of Tucson, I see changes that address two major issues: Where most of your employees will work from now on and health protections they will expect when they do have to come into the office.
The sudden disruption from coronavirus infections created an instant experiment in teleworking or remotely working from home. While the trend has gained traction for several years, stay-at-home orders turned the practice into a necessity for business owners who had to figure out how to continue to operate.
Your employees may now be efficiently set up for remote working with home work spaces, reliable connectivity, security enhancements and resource-sharing procedures. You may not want to give up that investment to bring workers back to a central location.
Workers themselves have discovered a lot of benefits to walking to an office at home. They can save time by eliminating commutes. There are personal financial savings in travel, meals, wardrobe and other expenses. They can better balance work and family needs.
In the long term, you may find that a remote workforce can save you money on your Tucson commercial space as you contract both individual work areas and shared spaces. Or you may find that your commercial real estate footprint will need to expand to adjust to new business operations.
In the short term, employees may need to work remotely during several surges of SARS-CoV-2 infections that lead to the disease COVID-19. Some infectious disease experts warn this can continue for up to two years. That would mean maintaining for quite a while the practices of distancing, constant hand-washing and face-covering to blunt the spread of the disease.
Workers will want to feel they are working in a safe environment. You’ll want to protect your workforce investment.
SPACE PLANNING is one of the essential activities that I insist any business owner undertake in order to make smart choices about a Tucson commercial lease. Now is the time to rethink and reassess your current space in your new operating environment. Write down these wants and needs to save time in comparing and inspecting properties.
In light of the COVID-19 Age, here is my list of some things to consider and questions to answer:
EMPLOYEE WORK STATIONS
Square footage of individual work areas has been shrinking for years as employers try to squeeze more employees into spaces. That has often led to open configurations like bull-pen or barrier-less cubicle designs, putting workers in close quarters with each other. COVID-19 will mean the end of open-space design for your Tucson commercial space.
- How can you create safe distances and barrier among employees and between employees and the public?
- Would converting more open work stations into private offices alleviate health concerns?
- Can you save space by staggering work hours or allowing remote work for some or all employees?
- Do you have employees who come into the office occassionally use a shared work station? Can you provide dedicated stations for every employee?
SHARED WORK AREAS
If your business operations change so that fewer employees are at your location at any one time, there will be less need for certain shared areas. On the other hand, the emphasis on distancing and cleanliness may require more room for new functions.
- Could a few large conference rooms be converted into smaller meeting rooms with emphasis on remote-meeting capabilities?
- Can training rooms be smaller or eliminated by retooling for remote training?
- Can you save space on break or dining room areas since fewer employees will use them at one time?
- Will you need to expand employee locker and showering facilities to allow more distancing? Or can you reduce space because fewer workers will use them at any given time?
- Can you limit the areas that each employee is allowed to be in?
- Where would you conduct health and sanitary practices such as monitoring temperatures; storing, distributing and discarding masks and gloves; and providing hand-sanitizing devices?
Distancing and cleanliness will require some changes on how infrastructure functions for everyone.
- How will you configure your lobby for the public or clients? What additional space would you need for people who drop in for services: Can you eliminate that space by implementing appointment-only procedures?
- Can you install doors that open automatically or otherwise eliminate the need for touching handles or secure-entry devices?
- Can you provide doorless entry into bathroom and other areas as seen in airports and large entertainment venues?
- How can aisles and hallways be widened or reconfigured to provide distancing?
- What areas require more space to support a remote workforce, such as IT, cybersecurity, computer servers and data storage?
- Can you shrink your current parking space for employees, clients and customers? Will you need to create space for a product pick-up service?
Waves of COVID-19 disruption may continue for several months.
- Are there other facilities you can tap to keep your business going?
- Do you have space to set up critical operations if you need to shut down another section for sanitizing?
- Do you have space to store additional equipment that could be used as needed by a remote workforce?
In his 25-plus years as a commercial real estate tenant representative, Michael Coretz has picked up a wealth of information and expertise. He’s passionate about making sure that corporate users, tenants and buyers like you get a fair deal and the best solution for your business’s bottom line. Commercial Real Estate Group of Tucson specializes in representing tenants and corporate users across the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. For more information, call 520-299-3400 or visit www.commercial-real-estate-tucson.com.