A Nationwide Surge in Workplace Searches is a Good Sign, but What are the Driving Forces Behind Them?

COVID-19 transformed CRE. Though it will never be the same as it was prior to, many sectors have bounced back with a vengeance, finding new and improved ways to serve clients. Even those that have been a bit slower to recover are doing so with regard to post-pandemic demands.

A surge in workspace searches nationwide has demonstrated that businesses and employees alike are more seriously considering a return, but at a cost to landlords. While companies’ interest in renting space has increased, so has the range of preferences landlords have to meet as occupiers demand more bang for their buck.

CommercialCafe’s 2022 Office Survey identifies the driving motivators behind employees’ current office space searches — and the results are surprising.

Respondents Aim for Single-Tenant Leases in Smaller Office Buildings
Respondents’ answers regarding the reason for their search were evenly spread, but a need to downsize their workplace footprint pulled ahead just slightly at 24%.

Twenty-three percent of respondents were motivated by cost, wanting a better price per square foot, twenty-three percent were looking to be the sole occupier of a building, sixteen percent were considering a larger office space, and surprisingly, just fourteen percent were browsing for an upgrade in quality.

Core Demands Remain Unchanged, But Tenants Yearn for Luminous Offices, Outdoor Spaces & Safety Measures
Pandemic isolation has made many employees eager still to avoid the confines of an artificially lit workplace, 12% of participants highlighting the need for more natural light and outdoor areas as one of the main preferences they had developed following COVID-19.

Interestingly, an overwhelming majority of people (53%) admitted that their workplace preferences haven’t changed much or at all compared to January of 2020.

COVID-19 safety measures ranked high with 19% of participants and 7% would like a subletting option to be included in the lease to allow for maximum flexibility in the event of changes to their workforce or the company’s preferred work schedule in the future.

Forty-Three Percent of Respondents Aiming for a Full Return to Office
Most searchers were aiming for either a full return to office (43%) or a hybrid system that requires employees to spend most of their time in the office (31%). But no less than 27% claim to be looking for a space that can accommodate staff that will be working mostly from home.

Co-working spaces have reemerged as an alternative for both businesses not yet ready to commit to a long-term lease and “work-from-home” employees wanting a change of scenery.