What will Commercial spaces post-pandemic look like?

Let’s take a moment of silence for the office plants, the work shoes, and the office kitchen kettle waiting abruptly abandoned almost a year ago, when the coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changed the way we think about work, space, commuting, communication, and collaboration.

As a result, the ways commercial spaces are designed have changed just as much. In 2021 and beyond, commercial spaces will look different, designed with an eye for increased distance, cleanliness, and innovation around shared spaces. Still, good style and beautiful details will be the defining feature of any commercial space.

  • The open office – yay or nay?

There has long been a debate about the open concept office since they were introduced in the 1960’s – they may look beautiful, but they actually lead to less collaboration and meaningful interactions with coworkers. But they’re also cost effective, since they allow employers to increase density in smaller spaces. That won’t work for the post-pandemic office space. New technology can allow designers and architects to map out how employees use space and where potential problem points are, so that new layouts, desk designs, meeting spaces and common spaces can be designed with safety and distance in mind. Don’t count out the open concept office yet – when they have windows with access to fresh air, they can improve ventilation and air flow. That’s key for pandemic recovery.

  • Is this an office or a hotel?

The rise of coworking spaces already promoted a trend that’s expected to infiltrate more traditional office spaces after the pandemic – “hotelization.” This means treating a commercial space with the (perhaps more luxurious) comforts of home like plants, soft furnishings and drapery, artwork, and a more relaxed dress code. “Hotelization” creates “the ultimate destination office,” which will be even more important if offices become specialized spaces reserved for events that require people to come together, rather than work remotely.

  • Smart colleagues, smart offices

The physical space of the office will change, undoubtedly, but so will the operations that manage office spaces. New technology will allow for safer interactions between coworkers; automatic doors, automatic cleanings, systems to organize supplies and tools shared by multiple workers and much more will be needed to upgrade commercial spaces to become “pandemic resilient.” Plus, with more inventory and less demand, commercial space landlords will need to attract tenants with the latest technology.

How do you think commercial spaces will change when employees are ready to go back to the office?