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10 Lessons for CRE from the Year-Long Pandemic

A year-plus into the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-term implications are still being sorted out. That being the case, a Cushman & Wakefield research team of Andrew Phipps, Kevin Thorpe, Rebecca Rockey, David Smith and Kenneth McCarthy have distilled the trends they uncovered and analyzed over the past several months.

“In many cases, we did it working alongside our partners and clients,” the team writes. “While other shifts may emerge or become more prominent down the road, a little over a year into a global pandemic, we offer 10 learnings we expect to have a far-reaching impact for years to come.” They’re summarized as follows:

• COVID-19’s impact on property was highly uneven
• The pandemic accelerated trends that were already in the making
• The future of office looks bumpy but bright
• Asia Pacific will lead the office demand recovery
• The hybrid model is emerging as the optimal model for most
• For capital markets, this recession-recovery looks nothing like the GFC
• A shifting purpose means changing space
• A new workplace ecosystem will emerge to support shifting priorities
• Five dynamics will drive work culture and workplace environments
• Five priorities should be factored into strategic real estate and workforce planning

While each of these bullet points is accompanied by an interactive panel with further detail, we’ve broken out the five priorities cited in the 10th of the key learnings:

“1. Shifting to a greater emphasis on flexibility. For example, taking more space or temporarily reducing space, as needed.

“2. Preparing for a different type of workplace. It’s no longer just about rows of desks—it’s about space as an enabler. What is the optimal configuration?

“3. Finding the right balance. It’s not just about giving employees flexibility over when, where and how to work—rather, it will take active planning to balance employee preferences with company goals and costs.

“4. Building and sustaining culture in a hybrid model. New models bring new challenges.

“5. Understanding your employees’ unique needs. Determine how space enables people to do their best and what the different requirements are based on mental or physical differences.”

The infographic also sums up the near-term implications for each of eight property sectors. As challenged as retail and hotels—and, to a lesser extent, office—have been, the implications are at very least hopeful if not as downright bullish as those for, say, data centers and self-storage.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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