Peter Jaremek: I am not sure that working from home is a sustainable trend

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Whether you see it as a blessing or a curse, many of us are experiencing long-term work-from-home conditions for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, about 40 percent of Canadians are currently working from home once you add office closures to those who were already working from home pre-COVID. Will makeshift office space replace office centers? Let’s find out.

As the commercial real estate market is facing a revival, many are wondering what office real estate will look like in 2021 and beyond. Rainbakers spoke with Peter Jaremek, a Canadian real estate professional specializing in office and retail real estate.

With lockdowns looming or in effect in major city centers, going back to the office could still be a long way away. What does that mean for commercial real estate in major business centers?

The real estate market in office space is picking up and without question, the largest office markets are experiencing a shift in demand In Q2 2021, Canada’s downtown office markets showed a modest one percent increase (2.4 million square feet) in vacancy compared to Q2 2020. According to CBRE Data, this means an additional 1.6 million square feet of sublet space for a total of four million square feet of vacant office space.

Price-wise, the numbers also show signs of recovery. CBRE reports the national average Class-A downtown rent of $22.25 per square foot. This remains in line with the 2019 average of $22.31.

What does this mean for businesses that continue to operate in remote-first mode?

As we see it today, businesses continue to weigh the long-term impact of COVID-19 and the ability to work from home on their operations.

 As the economy gradually re-opens, how does this affect the future of office space?

Well, the landlord confidence remains high as the Canadian employment market recovers. We also notice that many businesses continue to favor in-person communication so they are looking forward to developing the “new normal” business and corporate cultures.

Did your team notice any changes when you moved on to home offices?

That’s true, there are many benefits of no longer commuting and saving on lunches. Still, burnout among employees is on rise. The reason, as I see it, is no downtime or separation between work and home. There’s a burning issue of mental health and social impact of remaining away from the office. Many workers report feeling depressed and isolated, almost alienated, at home. I am not sure that working from home is a sustainable trend that will …

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