ARIZONA NEWS

Valley real estate developers say coronavirus will transform workplaces

Sep 22, 2020, 4:35 AM | Updated: 8:39 am

PHOENIX — Even with more Arizonans working from home through the coronavirus pandemic, Valley real estate developers insist the office won’t disappear, but it will transform into a hub for meetings instead of a second home.

“You could see more flexibility and a shift towards a hybrid schedule where employees can work from home maybe a couple days of the week,” Cullen Mahoney with Trammel Crow said.

He and other developers participated via Zoom on the Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s panel called “Future of Office.”

To Mahoney, the future of the office means spaces would be still be needed for building corporate culture and training workers.

“But maybe not have the private offices and the breakout areas,” Mahoney said. “That could be left up to employees to perform that kind of thoughtful work at home.”

Mahoney and other developers say rent and maintenance are cheaper than human capital, but they see slow investment activity through the pandemic and into next year.

Sometimes workers will still need to get away from home and not just to preserve their sanity.

“If you’re in a neighborhood that’s using a lot of bandwidth — you’ve got a lot of people working at the house, the kids are on playing games and downloading things, and the neighbors are doing the same, that will affect your technology,” Rodney Riley with Caliber Companies said.

He added that some people socialize, meet and marry at the office.

Valley real estate developers say builders and employers must prioritize workers’ health to get them back to the office, starting with germ-kill zones within air systems.

“People have been playing with that for a long time, and I think that’s going to insert itself into every building moving forward,” Riley said.

He also believes older buildings unable to handle new tech for COVID-19 prevention could go obsolete.

“One of the effects of forcing more air into your HVAC is that costs go up,” Riley warned.

Builders and landlords are already installing hand sanitizer stations and mats marking six feet of social distance.

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Valley real estate developers say coronavirus will transform workplaces