The pandemic has led to enormous changes for those who historically worked 9-5 in offices. The vast majority of office workers have now worked from home since the 12th March 2020, when the first lockdown was imposed.
Tech companies initially embraced it; Google cancelled 202,000 square feet of new Dublin office space. In July 2020 Mark Zuckerberg said that he expects 50% of the Facebook team to become ‘long term remote workers’. To begin with most of us enjoyed no commute, having more time to exercise and not having to choose what to wear. Sentiment has swayed though, there has been a dramatic shift over the last few months.
Employees needs are what shapes company policy, so with this in mind for the past month Get Property Limited asked prospective buyers and tenants where they would like to work from after the majority of us receive vaccination. This was an informal survey, we documented the gist of their responses after viewings were completed. So while our approach was not exactly scientific, the results are still very interesting.
The overwhelming response was that employees would enjoy flexibility. Many stated that they now hate their current set up and feel “trapped” working from home. It goes without saying that those of us juggling home-schooling with work are more stressed than if in the office. During lockdown those looking after children aged 0 – 5 have the unenviable task of trying to work while tending to their young. Then there are those who are crammed into a small home office, possibly working with their partner at the other side of the kitchen table.
Building on this, we asked everybody what their companies’ intentions are. The majority of employers now appear set on offering a hybrid option, splitting your workplace between home and office. This is undoubtedly because cracks have appeared over the past few months; staff motivation is down, people struggle with mental health issues and lonliness. When not amongst peers it is all too easy to develop an apathy towards work. Online meetings have been an excellent stopgap, but it is unsurprising to read that people are frustrated by the inability to debate ideas properly online.
We recently read that Microsoft are keen to get employees back to the office on a full time basis as soon as possible. Many other employers will feel the same.
So, based on all who we have spoken with and all that we have read, we conclude that the vast majority of employees want to get back to the office for at least 2-3 days per week. Employers meanwhile appear to be shifting their preference to an absolute minimum of two days per week in the office.
We can therefore reasonably expect that the rental market will experience enormous demand if/when most of us receive vaccines. Given that the property shortage crisis still unfortunately exists in Dublin, there is a very strong possibility that demand will dramatically outweigh supply. The likelihood is that rents will rise within the RTB parameters. Of equal concern is that those that leave their return to Dublin too late may have to settle for properties in suburbs that do not appeal to them.
Our advice for tenants is therefore straightforward; return to Dublin before the stampede.