Office Still Seen as an Attractive Workplace Option

Office Market

The Skanska-built Nordic Light Trio office building in Budapest.

Research by one of the leading regional developers indicates that the office is still seen as an attractive workplace location, despite pandemic concerns, although changes in setup and design are required by staff.

According to “The Evolution of Working Condition Needs in the Face of the Pandemic,” a study by Skanska in CEE, nearly half of office workers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania go to the office every day and have specific preferences regarding their workplace. These include a quiet space and high office standards (for example, safety, relaxation, and working in the open air) as the most frequently indicated critical factors that motivate people in the region to work from the office.

However, office supply in Budapest for 2021-2022 remains constrained, with a projected pipeline of 426,000 sqm with a pre-let status of 45% and a vacancy rate of 9%. This in a market with close to four million sqm of stock, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Around 150,000 sqm is expected to be delivered this year.

“The 2021 office market statistics continue to reflect the uncertainties and economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” comments the Budapest Research Forum, consisting of CBRE, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Eston International, JLL, and Robertson Hungary.  

The Skanska survey shows that the home office is not an ideal solution in the eyes of employees when it comes to CEE in general; more people would prefer to work only from the office than those who want only to work from the home office, the developer says. However, offices need to offer more than before.

Evolving Needs

“The pandemic has somehow outlined the future of office spaces and the evolving needs of employees. We can see that people still prefer going to the office, as more than half of the respondents claim they would like to work in the office nearly full-time. However, in the post-pandemic era, offices will have to offer more than before; they should be better, more comfortable, and interesting than what we have at home,” says Arkadiusz Rudzki, executive vice president for leasing and sales at the Skanska commercial development business unit in CEE.

“These expectations will transform the approach to managing office buildings with a growing focus on hospitality aspects. Therefore, we are heading towards high-quality spaces with maximum flexibility, as only the most outstanding buildings will be able to attract companies and fulfill their needs,” Rudzki adds.

The study confirms the great importance of safety issues. The results show that high sanitary standards can encourage working in offices, while lack of them causes fear of contracting the virus. Daily disinfection of the office at 41%, followed by lower population density (37%) and non-contact solutions (37%), are the main factors that would positively affect employees’ sense of safety in the office.

The study was conducted on behalf of Skanska by the research and analytics company Zymetria. As part of the quantitative online survey, using Computer-assisted web interviewing (CAWI), responses were collected from 2,000 office workers living in the region.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of July 16, 2021.

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