The post-pandemic office
VANCOUVER -- By now, many people working from home may be going stir crazy and looking forward to going back to the office. While that does not look hopeful any time soon, that time is coming – but things will be different.
As we have gotten used to distancing, there may be a reluctance to cram back into small office cubicles. Distancing ourselves from each other in the office will require more space and commercial real estate developers are taking notice.
A new office building will soon emerge at 4330 Kingsway in Burnaby that is expected to create a trend in commercial real estate development.
“It’s like a residential condo but it’s an office condo,” said Steven Dejonckheere, VP of development at Slate Asset Management.
An office strata is going up at the site complete with 25,000 square feet of common space, including an 80-seat auditorium for presentations and room to spread out as well as board rooms that can be reserved for all strata office owners. There will be plenty of open spaces for collaboration, which will also encompass outdoor areas and a shared fitness centre.
“It gives you a more flexible and affordable option and you can use those spaces when you need them and not have to carry the expense and weight of that when you’re not using those spaces,” Dejonckheere added.
Right now, there are only a handful of these type of office strata buildings in Metro Vancouver. They appeal to smaller business that want to own their own space to avoid paying rent that they cannot control. It is an idea that has been popular in Mainland China and Hong Kong and is now catching on in B.C.
“Tenants have been asking for different ways their offices can be designed to accommodate their workers,” said Charles Gauthier, CEO & president of Vancouver’s Downtown Business Improvement Association.
Vancouver has already been creating more public outdoor spaces, by closing off some streets and approving parklets along roadways where people can sit and relax.
“I don’t see us abandoning what we’ve done creating vibrant downtown cores and I think once we understand how we can safely go back to that, I think, there’ll be a flood of people to do that,” said Dejonckheere.
It is difficult to say whether the move to office strata buildings will catch on but says a strata office development at Granville Street and Cordova sold out quickly and another one is being developed on one corner of Robson and Seymour streets.
“I don’t think it’s a new idea. I think it’s just a new idea that’s been recycled and is being marketed in light of what’s occurring and what people are going to want in a post pandemic world,” said Gauthier.
In addition, Gauthier says commercial real estate developers are quick to adapt to the changing needs of businesses and their workers.