The work-from-home (WFH) trend is not going away, at least not in any form. In the near future, according to employee and employer surveys, the majority of employees will spend the majority of their work week in the office, while having more freedom to perform some work-from-home tasks.
Office space requirements can be reduced by allowing employees to work from home more frequently. In addition, WFH may allow some companies to move from prime downtowns to less expensive suburbs or office parks, or even to smaller, more affordable cities. This could reduce the exorbitant prices that downtown office buildings have been able to command in major cities.
Offices, on the other hand, are here to stay. Face-to-face meetings still have many advantages that online video conferencing cannot offer. Planning new initiatives, organizing new workgroups, collaborative and creative efforts, and enforcing performance standards on low performers are all activities that are better done in person than via email. Meetings that happen by chance in the hallway can lead to fruitful cooperation between departments and teams.
The risks of infection have led to an increase in the use of shared workstations, resulting in a decrease in office space per employee over the past decade. WFH flexibility combined with increased workstation spacing could lead to smaller changes in overall space demand.