May 12, 2020
Seattle-based Urban Renaissance Group LLC (URG) unveiled results from a telling new survey of more than 500 commercial office and retail tenants representing some 50,000 employees, with more than 80% of them in the greater Seattle area. Washington State’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order was extended until May 31, 2020, which translates to a very different office life once ‘Phase II’ of Governor Inslee’s four-phased re-opening plan begins, allowing professional services and office-based businesses to reoccupy office buildings.
URG’s Patrick Callahan says, “As we all continue to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, it is clear that our tenants are already planning on a phased-in approach with an emphasis that is safe and healthy for their employees. The office will be a different environment for some time, but with good planning and coordination between landlord and tenant, employees will remain safe and the work environment will be productive.”
Among the URG survey findings were:
- A Gradual Return to Office. 75% of tenants expressed reservations about a full return of staff to the office due to general safety concerns, once the order is lifted. A very small number plan for all employees to return to the office immediately (13%), and a significant majority expects no more than 50% of staff to return initially.
- Staggered Schedules for Staff. Nearly two-thirds of respondents confirmed they are, or are likely, to begin staggering schedules to address distancing requirements. The majority of those returning will be focused on general functions over functions like information technology, leadership or food services.
- Working from Home is Part of the Solution. At least one-third of the tenants surveyed expect a permanent adoption of work-from-home policies for some employees – which is twice the amount that had that option prior to the pandemic – and nearly 40% more are considering it as a new option in the future.
- At-Risk Employees. Additionally, more than 40% of survey respondents will not have “at-risk” employees return to the office immediately once the stay-at-home order is lifted, and another 30% of respondents remain unsure on how to handle at-risk employees in their organization.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). More than half of respondents plan to offer PPE to employees, but many (1/3) need help finding the equipment. Another 33% are still considering offering PPE, as well.
*Pictured Plaza 600 Building at 6th Avenue & Stewart in Seattle
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