On a spring day in 2020, much of the world seemed to screech to an abrupt halt. Around the nation, COVID-19 “Stay At Home” orders were being issued by local and state governments, confining people from all walks of life to their homes for up to two weeks.
On a spring day in 2020, much of the world seemed to screech to an abrupt halt. Globally, COVID-19 “Stay At Home” orders were being issued by local and state governments, confining people to their homes for up to two weeks.
For many, those weeks quickly felt like an eternity. By the end of the first “quarantine,” people everywhere found themselves anxious and ready to get back to their normal lives, including their day-to-day work at the office.
Little did they know that. as suddenly as the COVID-19 pandemic had arrived, the entire global perception of the “everyday work environment” drastically had changed.
What had changed in two short weeks? Definition of the verb “to zoom” transformed overnight. Chats at the water-cooler became pings, tweets, and dings from electronic devices now exclusively relied on for human interaction. Perhaps most drastic of all; business owners who had previously been reluctant to adapt “work from home” policies were now eager to implement them and get their businesses up and running again - even if those businesses were now being ran from the collective living rooms of their staff.
80% of the American workforce spends their time at work in an office. With the average American finding themselves at work for over 90,000 hours in their lifetime, it is no wonder that the paradigm shifts experienced during the pandemic were felt most prominently by those who work in an office environment.
Thankfully, with the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, expanded response and aid to healthcare workers, and state and Federal guidance, the worst of the proverbial pandemic storm has seemed to pass.
What does the modern American office look like in a post pandemic world?
To truly predict what the American office will look like going into the 2020’s, we need to have a grounded understanding of COVID-19’s current status in our world.
In the scientific and medical community, novel increases in diseases (such as COVID-19) are categorized in progressive stages. These stages are OUTBREAK, EPIDEMIC, PANDEMIC, and ENDEMIC.
- An outbreak is a sudden rise in the number of cases of a disease more than normal expectancy in a community or geographical area.
- An outbreak can be declared an epidemic when the disease spreads rapidly to many people.
- When a disease rapidly spreads across the globe, an epidemic becomes a pandemic. Pandemics are known to cause large-scale social disruption, economic loss, and general hardship.
- A disease becomes endemic when it integrates itself into the world population as a constant presence. Examples of endemic illnesses are Influenza and the Common Cold. Over time, due to natural immunity, loss of life, and the human body’s ability to fight the disease through vaccines and exposure, the efficacy of the virus will deteriorate.
- Because the virus is still able to mutate and evolve, various strains will affect the population in more drastic ways than others. The prevalence of these mutated strains of disease, and their effect on humans become known as “seasonal.” “Flu Seasons” are the perfect example of this.
Within this framework, COVID 19 is well into the process of moving past the Pandemic stage into the Endemic stage. It is here to stay. The acknowledgement of this transition was confirmed by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on April 27th, 2022.
With this understanding of COVID-19's current status, we are forced to rephrase our question from, “What does an office environment look like in a post pandemic world?” to “What does an office environment look like in a world filled with endemic diseases?”
Our prediction? Almost the same.
Because humans have been battling endemic diseases throughout all of recorded history, we predict our work environments will feel incredibly similar to how things were before the pandemic with one important caveat; an increased attention to best practices regarding hygiene and illness transmission.
Ball Ventures Ahlquist collects large amounts of data pertaining to our commercial developments. Our recent reports have shown that not only are our tenants starting to settle into a new normal, but that people’s work-lives are starting to rely on the office experience again. In many cases, the data has shown that several BVA operated office buildings have seen an increase in the number of daily visitors compared to the numbers they saw pre-pandemic.
When looking to some of the largest American corporations, the patterns also send a message: The traditional “9-5” office environment is not going away anytime soon.
During the pandemic, Google offered a wide range of flexible work options. Now, however, they are setting plans in motion to buy an estimated $10 Billion worth of office space in the next several years. The company sent ripples through the business community in March when they purchased an entire 35 story office tower located in Austin Texas; signaling to the world that they expect the in-office work experience to, not only survive the pandemic but thrive into the future.
Also in March, Goldman Sach’s made headlines with the announcement that a majority of it’s workforce would be required to return to the office within a matter of weeks. The company’s CEO explained the decision by stating that there are certain types of industries that do not function efficiently when employees are not physically at the office. According to CNBC, a “stampede” of other companies are expected to follow suit, soon.
Ready or not, it looks like a majority of the workforce is returning to in-person work.
If things are truly starting to revert to pre-pandemic patterns, it is vital for business owners and employees to communicate their preferences, needs, and concerns that have been introduced through sporadic office environments in the last two years.
While many are eager to get back to the office, others are hesitant and concerned about the safety of their coworkers. We know how important your workplace is, which is why at BVA we build premium office, retail, flex office, and industrial spaces that truly inspire those who work there.
As Idaho’s Premier Commercial Real Estate Developer - we strive to be flexible and address the needs of our tenants. Our property management team works with each tenant to address any additional safety precaution requests, technology upgrades, and practices needed for our tenants to feel safe and stay healthy.
In Spring of 2020, the world seemed to screech to an abrupt halt.
In Spring of 2022, the return to the workplace has begun, and will continue to expand.
Through it all, BVA has worked to provide best in class service and quality found nowhere else in the Treasure Valley Commercial Real Estate Development Industry.
What will your office environment look like in a post-pandemic world?
When you work with BVA; exactly how you want it to.