Commercial office spaces: To lease or not to lease?
A thought that has been ruminating in the minds of corporate executives for several months, this question has tremendous business implications for organizations across the world. While the query appears to be a simple one, its many complexities and nuances need to be fully unpacked.
As millions of professional workers have adjusted to remote working environments, will this work-from-home trend continue to remain prevalent? Has the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the decline of commercial leases and brick-and-mortar office spaces? Or will workplace environments mostly return to a normal, in-person setting once we reach the epidemiological end to the coronavirus?
To help organizations determine the best course of action to support their business model, here are some of the biggest pros and cons of commercial office leases.
- Promotion of company culture – One of the biggest advantages to maintaining a physical office space is the ability to shape positive company culture. Organizations can better support and empower their employees in an in-person setting, which will foster a workforce that is more engaged, productive, and loyal.
- Opportunities for teamwork and collaboration – Being surrounded by coworkers and scheduling face-to-face conversations is critical for sharing ideas and sparking teamwork. In-office work settings are pivotal as organizations look to propel innovation and collaboration.
- Greater control of the work environment – I’m sure you can name a few employees who seem to frequently get off-task while working from home. By returning to a physical office, these issues will be significantly reduced—if not eliminated entirely.
- Cost – The fact of the matter is that commercial leases can be expensive. As organizations have become increasingly cost-conscious, they have been forced to reduce overhead expenses. Eliminating a long-term commercial lease commitment could be the first step to creating some much-needed breathing room in a company’s budget.
- Restrictions to the talent pool – As companies move away from in-person office spaces, they will have access to a wider talent network. Think about it: if an organization transitions to a fully-remote workplace, they can recruit top-tier employees from across the world—no matter where they live. No longer will businesses be limited to recruiting from the talent pool in their office location.
- Lack of personal convenience – All employees—especially those with young families—encounter their fair share of emergencies that arise at a moment’s notice. Working in an office may prohibit these crises from being effectively taken care of. But if organizations choose to transition to a remote-work environment, it will provide employees the flexibility to handle personal concerns in real-time.
Ultimately, deciding to continue or cancel your commercial office lease is far from a cut-and-dry decision; rather, it is mostly contingent on your organization’s business model. While some industries—such as healthcare, manufacturing, or retail—are simply unable to logistically shift to a remote-work environment, other white-collar fields have found success with this approach. Because of the advancements in twenty-first-century technology, companies may find that virtual workplaces are more conducive to improving organizational performance. Yet even as the functionality of Zoom and Microsoft Teams have enabled overall seamless business continuity, some organizations realize the value of face-to-face interaction with their teams and clients.
Before your organization decides whether to return to an in-person workplace setting, provide your employees with a poll to gather their feedback. While some workers may prefer to work remotely, others may be desperate to return to an in-office model. Not only does this survey allow for your employees to provide input on the decision, but it will allow your company to support these individuals and their various needs in the most effective way possible.
While the future of commercial office spaces has never been more uncertain, it will be fascinating to watch how organizations approach this decision over the next several years. If your company is seeking advice to solve the in-person vs. virtual office dilemma, our team at Acara can help to determine the best course of action for your business and your employees.