CREW Check-In: Navigating Critical Changes in Commercial Real Estate During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

May 8, 2020
Written by: CREW Detroit
CREW Detroit Board of Directors | May 8, 2020

It’s common to hear that we are living in “unprecedented times” as businesses and organizations around the world navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19. Every industry is impacted, requiring adaption in the way employees work and how businesses are interacting with their stakeholders on a daily basis. The commercial real estate industry is taking significant steps to navigate the evolving challenges presented by this pandemic. 
As we begin to emerge from this crisis, one thing we know for sure is that our industry will be forever changed. CRE designers are now adapting their services related to different industries to create approaches and spaces to better serve each industry. Property managers in the health care industry are changing their approach in order to be well-equipped as they swiftly convert spaces into alternate care facilities to support the COVID-19 pandemic. New spaces in the development stage are being adjusted to be utilized as a repositioning strategy, instead of typical development.

It is our job as CRE industry leaders to adapt and make spaces safer for those who live, work and play in our buildings.

The pandemic has forced us to advance our technology to allow for business to be conducted remotely. Future workplaces may adapt to decrease open and collaborative spaces, to incorporating a definitive division of space affecting the way we interact in an office setting. It’s likely tenants will begin to require less office space, increasing the value of in-person communication and collaboration. 

From a design perspective, it will be imperative to incorporate social distancing considerations into office space plans in the coming years. Within CRE, the square footage per person may begin to expand to allow for increased personal space, less shared or hoteling spaces in offices to mitigate the spread of germs, and fewer conference and training spaces.  Tenants could begin to push for shorter leases or lower rental rates due to uncertainty in the market.

Depending on when the mandate is lifted, the timing of projects under construction could be significantly delayed. Developments may not finish on schedule and could drive up construction costs due to shortages of material and labor. Investments in new developments could be affected if the economy doesn’t rebound quickly after concerns subside.

When considering “what’s next?”, there remain many unanswered questions as to where we will land. The unknowns make it challenging to forecast what will happen, but it allows us unlimited possibilities and solutions to offer. We have to accept these changes and be willing to adapt to what is coming as professionals to ensure comfortability and safety in our industry.  

CREW Detroit recently hosted a webinar addressing many of these items: Retooling Your Business for the Future.  We invite you to check it out! 

CREW Detroit is managed by a Board of Directors who work together to set and accomplish the chapter’s strategic goals—helping to advance the success of women in commercial real estate. Learn more by clicking here.