100 mn Sq Ft Being Upgraded, Back To Workplace Picks Up

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100 mn Sq Ft Being Upgraded, Back To Workplace Picks Up

Focus on sustained wellness measures as well

Companies opening the office with greater fervour only now, said Ramesh Nair, CEO, India and Managing Director, Market Development, Asia, Colliers.

NEW DELHI, Apr 2 (The CONNECT) - Cities like Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Pune have seen employees returning to workplaces at a relatively faster rate over the past two months. These cities have economically well-diversified commercial markets spanning trading and manufacturing, BFSI, which are contact-intensive services.

Moreover, domestic companies have been at the forefront of bringing employees back to offices in a phased manner. Service-oriented markets such as Bengaluru and Hyderabad, which have a strong technology base have also seen a steady return of employees to their workplaces.

The overall market is seeing a surge in workplaces opening in the last few months after the diminishing impact of the third wave of Covid-19, and good vaccination coverage among the eligible population. Beginning March 2022, several technologies and IT companies have started calling employees with most of these majors opting for a hybrid work policy.

Some global companies and MNCs have reopened with a hybrid model of working, but many continue to chalk out their hybrid policies. Overall, technology companies are taking more time to develop policies as they continue to work remotely.

“Returning to the workplace has been a running theme for the last two years, soon after every wave. However, we are seeing companies opening the office with greater fervour only now,” said Ramesh Nair, CEO, India and Managing Director, Market Development, Asia, Colliers.

Q2 2022 will be a crucial period as more companies are expected to open up workplaces to their employees through a hybrid model, Nair said.

Overall, business sentiments have significantly improved after the third wave of Covid-19 in January 2022. To corroborate the above trend, Colliers studied the key trends emerging from the Google Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports to understand the change in patterns of visits to workplaces across the top six cities. The study showed that Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Pune have seen a steady increase in visits to workplaces, compared to other cities and are almost inching towards pre-pandemic level. Having said that, the traffic has significantly improved across all the cities in the last 2 weeks. (The visit to the workplace is a comparison of visits in March 2022 from a baseline of five weeks between January-February 2020 pre Covid-19).

Occupiers are showing a clear preference for next-generation offices. The focus needs to be on building the office for employees wants, which will keep employee experience at its core.

Companies can overcome employees’ fatigue to resume office by making the workplace safety compliant. These new-age offices will promote health, safety, protection and wellness through various facets. At the same time, technology will be an important enabler as offices evolve into a space for collaboration, innovation, socializing.

Landlords and developers can also focus on:

  • High-performance buildings that facilitate technology, environment, energy and efficiency parameters to enable greater productivity, health and wellness
  • More space for common amenities
  • Sustained wellness measures to bring back employees to offices and highlighting the same to tenants
  • Assisting tenants with renovations to maintain social distancing requirements

There will be immense scope for landlords to upgrade existing facilities. Colliers estimates that landlords and developers have a scope to upgrade around 100 million sq feet of office space in the top six cities, accounting for 14% of the existing stock. Retrofitting of buildings is crucial and can fetch as much 20% increase in rents for developers/landlords. Upgradation should make these offices more attractive to occupiers, leading to a) increased rents and lower vacancy levels, b) high tech buildings and c) sustainability benefits like reduction in carbon emissions.

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