Commercial Real Estate- The New Normal

Written by Derek James,
April 29th, 2020

Sitting here looking out my home office window, it is hard to believe how much our world has changed in the last sixty days.  There has been a pervasive shock to the cosmic consciousness as we’ve watched the stock market seek its bottom, the government pay out trillions of borrowed monies, skyrocketing unemployment and some of our fellow citizens suffering and dying alone, all the while people in America are making facial masks an everyday part of our lives   And the oil industry, well at current pricing, I should trade my spare room full of toilet paper for an unencumbered interest in an off-shore platform.  With all this turmoil, both local and national, what will be the new normal in commercial real estate.

Virtual tours will be the new normal for most commercial spaces.  I would expect less corporate travel, both local and national with more dependence on photos and videos, including drone filming especially on the front end of a site selection.

Space planning will have to be re-thought, at least until we have a vaccine.  The trend of cooperative, community type lay-outs will have to be adapted to accommodate social distancing, shared touch-points and intersections within the premises. Bench work, filled conference rooms, and shared workstations are out of the question for the foreseeable future. This might mean rotating a work force or reconfigurations to meet the new normal.

As we wind our way through the five stages of grief for this pandemic, there is a choice on how react to the world in which we find ourselves.  To paraphrase a Winston Churchill quote

 “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” There is always something valuable that can be derived out of difficulty, adversity or change. We just have to look for it with open minds.  Stay safe, wash your hands and wear the face masks.