Return to work plans are top of mind for companies nowadays. Companies are considering a variety of questions: will they have a hybrid work model? How will they transition their employees back to the office? Many large companies have already made announcements of their return to office plans including J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, who plan to bring their employees back in-person by the end of the year. After more than a year of working from home, a new study finds that 85% of workers want to return to the office.
So how can commercial real estate owners and operators prepare for the return of their tenants? What’s most important to them in the post-pandemic world?
Cohesion ran a poll throughout May to ask employees how their priorities have shifted as they prepare to return to work. We know their routines are likely different than they were before the pandemic, and our survey results revealed that flexibility will be key to creating a best-in-class tenant experience.
How People Plan to Commute to Work
A majority of employees plan to either drive their car (44%) or take public transportation (43%) when commuting the work. People are likely continuing to choose these options because of the affordability, flexibility, and convenience it offers. Ridesharing prices have surged to accommodate the losses during the pandemic but has always been the costliest option. Even though health and safety concerns have increased, people plan to pick the option that’s most suitable and flexible for them.
Lunch Plans Won’t Go Remote
After a year of not making lunch plans with coworkers, we were eager to ask employees what their plans for lunch will be when they’re back in the swing of things. Our survey revealed that a majority (58%) of people enjoy the break in the day and plan to go out during their lunch hour. Although people are used to ordering food from food apps like GrubHub or Uber Eats – 54% look for their food in apps – this is not a habit that they intend to continue from the office. A very small percentage of 4% would use a building app to order their lunch.
A Healthier Workspace is the New Norm
Since Cohesion’s inaugural survey, we’ve been interested in knowing how important air quality is to building tenants. Our 2019 survey shared that the most significant improvements to office tenants included more physical amenities such as on-site gyms, restaurants, and bars. In our May 2020 Employee Survey Report, 80% of employees wanted to know the air quality in the office. This survey also revealed that before the pandemic, only 20% of people thought about air quality and the overall health of other people in their office regularly.
That percentage increased with our most recent Employee Survey Report, with 85% of employees stating they would like to know their building’s air quality. We wanted to see if this priority had changed after the pandemic, and it hasn’t. Today, about 90% of people care about knowing their office’s air quality. With smart building technology in place, such as our Indoor Air Quality optimization program, employees can get transparency of their building’s airflows while the technology works on reducing harmful air pollutants.
Going Mobile is Preferred
We do everything with our phone so why wouldn’t we use an app to access our building if we could? Interestingly, our survey revealed that 61% of employees would use a building app’s digital keycard if it were offered. This not only makes sense because of the flexibility it gives employees, but also because of the surge of health concerns during the pandemic. Having access to a mobile keycard would simply reduce the amount of surfaces an employee touches and would help avoid having to interact with people to enter a building. Also, about 98% of American office workers have a smartphone, which means buildings could reduce the cost of getting physical keycards and leverage smart building technology.
41% of office workers use keycards to enter their office but the same amount of people said they would use smartphones as their first-choice, indicating that going mobile is just the way.
Wellness Is Top of Mind
Fitness centers have always been popular when it came to building amenities, so we ran a question to see how employees would use a building application for their fitness needs. About 46% of employees would like to use an application to see how busy the gym is while 37% would use it to book an on-site class.
Although the pandemic caused gyms to temporarily close, people’s fitness goals weren’t put on hold. Fitness app downloads grew by nearly 50% during first half of 2020, meaning that people will most likely be continuing to look for flexible ways to easily access their classes.
There has been a shift of what people will do and see as important post-pandemic, but one thing is clear amongst all of them: employees will want flexibility, easy access, and transparency at work.
Cohesion’s smart building technology can enable this throughout buildings and make it easier to adapt to the new normal. Request a demo with our team to learn more.