Open spaces & offices: The covid reshuffles the cards

Faced with a trend towards the increasing urbanization of workers and the opening of large offices, COVID is a game-changer: The cards are reshuffled and the trend is reversed. Explanations.

As the business centers in the center of the big cities grew, while the open spaces got bigger and bigger, to the point of having to use the chat rather than the voice communication (which defies the very interest of the open space: proximity), a troubling element has arrived in our lives for a year now. No one will wish him his birthday, but it has been a year since COVID has impacted the world of work. Open spaces are no longer in fashion: They are little suited to this new situation imposed by health restrictions.

Large offices and work: End of a love affair

It has now been several months since employees in the largest offices have seen each other, other than in a computer window, via a videoconferencing tool. Offices in large cities are empty and may remain so for some time to come. One thing is certain: The French are not ready to adopt teleworking as a routine. Only 8% of French people say they are ready to telework exclusively and 63% of them want to continue to come back to work at least 3 times a week.

The question arises: What future for these workplaces (often head offices) bringing together several dozen employees of a company? Well, some ideas are already emerging for the future transformation of these offices:

  • The dark-kitchens trend is skyrocketing: These kitchens intended only for take-out are on the rise. It’s like a restaurant without a dining room!
  • The development of e-commerce warehouses: The trend of online sales is exploding. And with it, the trend of selling / buying between individuals. These two sectors are in great need of expansion.

Work and large cities: Here too, the trend is changing

Faced with confinement, large cities like Paris no longer have the same appeal: culture, music, parties, urban effervescence, shops, etc. All these positive points have disappeared, where they have changed their taste. After a year locked up at home, the metropolis has changed its taste: the fact of teleworking and no longer being able to go out at night deprives city dwellers of a large part of the joys of the city.

In the end, for many there are only expensive rents, small living spaces and complicated (and crowded) transport. So here too, the French are thinking. They are supported in their thinking by the bosses: Many of them are thinking of reducing the size of their offices and setting them up in small towns. This movement has a name: the emergence of Zoom Towns.

Fashion is already launched in the United States, many small towns next to large metropolises see their population increase: People move to the suburbs and change their living environment. On the outskirts of large cities, there are smaller urban areas, or even rural areas: Located 10 or 20 kilometers from a large city or close to a cool and natural place (forest, lake, mountain etc…).

The living environment becomes all the more appreciable in view of the context. It’s a real revenge for small towns across the Atlantic: Rents in expensive cities like San Francisco or New York have fallen by 15-30%, while more rural areas around these cities have fallen. increased 11.3%. People are therefore opting for smaller, more local offices and it is mainly the business centers on the outskirts of the city that are doing well.