The Post Covid19 World
In this series of blog posts I attempt to collecting my thinking and reasoning about how the post Covid19 world will look. I do not know more about the future than anybody else so much of what I write will be wrong but by cataloging my thoughts I at least get a chance to review my predictions
It is my belief that a lot of commentators underestimate the ability of humans to return to normal. Obviously some segment of the population will not return to their previous habits and this will affect demand in the medium to long term. The Economist calls this the 90% economy.
That said, I believe the world’s offices are due for a change. The rise of open plan offices and hot desking are not necessarily a thing of the past but they will change and become significantly less attractive as more white collar workers work from home and the concerns about spreading the coronavirus, and other viruses such as the flu for that matter.
The open plan office was always a cost reduction measure first and foremost. Everything else was secondary, despite what company management may say. There are benefits but it is a significant vector in spreading the corona virus.
Workers, especially high paid ones in attractive industries will likely demand the ability to work from home more often than before and they will not accept cliches about collaboration and innovation as reason to redo offices into open plan. Risking ones health for the privilege of using someone else’s keyboard is hardly a great deal.
Offices will remain but, at least initially, will not be filled to the brim with workers. Expect CFOs to cut office space, renegotiate rent, and where possible move to more flexible setups such as WeWork.
WeWork is screwed anyway due to the mismanagement and the likely fall in office rents but a more prudent alternative like Regus may be a better bet. One day we may even see the return of the private offices. One can hope anyway.
The office will remain, it will be changed but most of us do actually want to get away from the house sometimes. Despite the commute and constant distractions.