CRE trend: Home is where the work is

“Work from home” is the first major trend highlighted in the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021 – produced by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and professional services network, PwC.

This “trends and forecast publication” is now in its 42nd edition and is highly regarded in real estate and commercial real estate (CRE) spaces. The latest edition provides “an outlook on real estate investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, property sectors, metropolitan areas, and other real estate issues”, focusing on the United States and Canada.

Go home

The trends in the report are not necessarily ranked, but “working from home” (WFH) opens the first chapter of the report, titled Dealing with Certain Uncertainties, which attempts “to start the process of discerning the trends that Covid-19 has instigated and their long-term potential”.

It continues: “One of the most oft-mentioned themes that we heard [during research for the report] was that Covid-19 did not create new trends but accelerated those that were already underway”.

And stay there

The report goes on to say that this trend’s sticking power was boosted by its early successes. “The WFH experiment has gone better than most managers and employees had expected, since new teleconference tools and advanced information technology systems have allowed for effective communication and collaboration (so far),” it reads.

Looking to the future, the report says that over 90% of the Emerging Trends survey respondents agreed that even after the Covid-19 crisis has abated “more companies will choose to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time.”

This experience of WFH has also spurred experimentation in work models from companies, with several announcing either a permanent move to remote work or increased flexibility for their workers.

“History suggests that offices will remain the dominant location for most white-collar employment, but the pandemic has taught us that there is a definite new variation now in the mix,” it concludes.

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