Simpler Times

By Alec J. Pacella for Properties Magazine, March 2021

This month marks an anniversary of sorts. I’m sure you can remember exactly what even made you realize that COVID-19 was going to be a much bigger deal than originally thought. Most likely, this event happened sometime in the first two weeks of March 2020.

For the complete article, click here.

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.

Hotels Offering Day Rates to Lure the WFH Crowd

As the old saying goes, hard times foster growth.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the hospitality sector is changing so rapidly. Hotels have had a tough year.

2020 introduced challenges for every facet of commercial real estate – but travel-based industries saw unparalleled disruption. For the first time, travel bans and market closures put all tourism on hold. Whether for work or play, there were no guests to be found in vacant hotels for months.

Reopening markets brought reprieve for many CRE sectors, but hotels still had a lot of work to do. The lifting of official travel restrictions simply was not enough to attract guests back into hotels. Social distancing concerns for health and safety kept guests at bay, preventing hotels from seeing any relief.

The Hotel Space is Reasserting its Value

As a result of the unsatisfactory market climate and negative sentiments from the public, the hotel space has been forced to reassert its value. Over the last few months, hotels have been working to change up their gameplans and re-calibrate their models.

Since these efforts have kicked off, we’re seeing hotel robots, tech-powered sanitation, and effortless social distancing dominate the hotel scene. These developments have made hotels cleaner, safer, and healthier than ever.

But, with tourism remaining notably low, hotels needed to further their efforts and find a new target demographic.

The New Strategy: WFH Professionals

Instead of jet setting leisure-lovers, hotels have shifted their focus to the world of business.

Right now, hotels are offering their rooms as personal office spaces to attract business crowds. It’s been months since offices have been closed, leaving a massive population of workers without an official place to work.

The WFH trend has been difficult to adapt to, forcing households to try and fit everything into a single space. At this point, many professionals are tired of working from home – but they’re also not ready to go back to bustling office spaces.

As a solution, hotels have introduced the solo office space.

Hotels across the country have begun offering daily rates for out-of-office professionals looking for a peaceful place to do their work. Of course, they’ll also gain the added bonus of access to all of the amenities the hotel has to offer. Dining, fitness, pools, and other luxury options are attracting business people to give the daily hotel workspace a whirl.

Blending Hospitality with Office Needs

This isn’t the first time that hotels have considered adopting professionally-focused strategies to enhance their business models. Even before the pandemic, when remote working was becoming an increasingly popular trend, hotels were dipping their toes into a flex-space system.

The contemporary hotel model has been seeking to create a place that perfectly adapts to a guest’s evolving needs. Whether it be work, play, or relaxation, the future of hotels continues to point towards flexibility.

Looking ahead, commercial real estate professionals should be considering how this innovative hotel model will adjust when offices finally do re-open and welcome their teams back again. Keep your eyes on the rapidly-changing market to see what happens next.

How to Make Sure You’re Supporting Your Team Right Now

In the midst of a global crisis, stressors are everywhere. The pressure is on, the heat is cranked up high, and it’s putting a strain on all of us. Even the bravest of them all is dealing with unconscious worries and fears during this time of uncertainty.

And yet, while the COVID-19 situation continues to weigh down on the world, we’re defying all odds and facing the situation with optimism, strength, and hope. Life is going on. Business is operating as normally as possible as the world fights to remain intact even at what seems like the worst of times.

With the state of affairs as it is, it’s up to us to be the shining beacon of hope for those finding it hard to cope with the stress. Mental health concerns are at a peak as it’s becoming difficult for all of us to keep calm and carry on. In response to these issues, it’s vital for business leaders to support their teams right now.

Here are 5 simple ways to support your team during this, and any other, crisis.

Take Breaks

While some of us are seamlessly adapting to work-from-home life, it’s not so easy for others.

It’s important to remember that not everyone has the same atmosphere at home that they may when they come into the office. Disruptions, family interactions, and other responsibilities may make it hard to spend a solid 9-hour shift at the computer.

Don’t be hesitant to give your team breaks and be lenient with timeframes. Providing a little flexibility here can be a massive help for those still settling into the telework reality.

Check-In With Your Team

The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are changing constantly. Every day brings a hundred updates and every hour is a platform for breaking news, sudden discoveries, and other unexpected changes.

Make sure you’re checking in with your team amidst the chaos. As a leader, it’s important to be up to speed with what everyone is dealing with so you can adapt accordingly.

Unfortunately, this pandemic is taking the lives of family and friends. You never know what griefs and stresses are on your team members’ minds unless you ask, discuss, and share. Open up a safe space for communication that keeps you connected with your team.

Be Open to Accommodations

While we may want to force things into some structure of normalcy, now is not the time to be too overbearing. Business is certainly important, but with a global emergency knocking at our door, it may not be the topmost concern and priority of everyone on your team.

And that’s okay. Team leaders need to recognize that we’re all dealing with our own issues regarding COVID-19, so it’s necessary for bosses to be open to accommodations.

Don’t Exacerbate the Stress

The biggest way that team leaders can support their staff during this crisis is to be a source of light and positivity – not an additional stressor. In this overwhelming situation, the last thing you want to do is make things worse. Be kind, forgiving, and try not to exacerbate the stress.

These lessons will stay with us as we move forward and past the COVID-19 pandemic. While most things will go back to normal, others will continue to be a part of our baseline operations. Hopefully, this heightened compassion within workspace cultures will be a lesson that sticks around.