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Occupancy Trends

The Work-From-Home Movement and Its Effect on Office Space

More people are working from home than ever before, but the trend won’t make office space obsolete

COVID-19 is causing challenges in all walks of life, as everything from going to the grocery store to interacting with friends is different than it was this time last year. And as coronavirus cases increase across the country in a winter wave, we could see even more employees avoiding the commute and working from home.

But how long will it last?

There are some promising vaccines in the works. A collaborative effort between Pfizer and BioNTech and a shot produced by Moderna show excellent preliminary results, and the vaccines could start to be available before the end of the year.

However, there are significant supply limitations and logistical hurdles to overcome before seeing a roll-out to the masses. The pandemic is spiking again, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Still, we could see a return to “normalcy” as soon as the second quarter of 2021, with many people returning to the office before then. 

Many workers want to return to the office, and offices will once again become a more in-demand commodity, albeit in a slightly different form. 

Here’s one look at what we might expect regarding remote work, in-person work, and office space in the coming months.

The current work-from-home landscape

Far more people are working from home than in pre-pandemic days, of course. A report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas suggests that close to 50% of employees were working from home at least part of the time by August 2020. 

The number of daily commuters has been increasing monthly since the first lockdowns, as we get more used to the new normal. However, it’s still nowhere near February’s numbers, when over 73% of employees commuted daily.

The average U.S. worker is now staying home 5.8 days per month, up from 2.4 before the pandemic. And those who occasionally telecommuted before COVID-19 are working from home for about 11.9 days each month.

What do these numbers mean?

In short, more people are working from home, and there is reason to believe that the trend will continue into 2021. There’s also a chance that the remote work revolution lasts—in part—indefinitely.

According to Gallup’s research, those who work from home for between one and four days each week are the most engaged and produce the best results

Will managers notice this data and make changes to meet employee expectations? Maybe, which will lead to a durable shift in the way we use office space.

What the future holds

Those who own commercial property might see these numbers and worry about the future of their investments. Still, there will always be a need for office space, although we will likely see many companies seeking different things.

For example, many businesses may continue to allow employees to work from home on projects that don’t require collaboration. If a worker would otherwise be sitting in a cubicle or personal office without meeting with anyone, that’s a job that the individual could probably do remotely. 

At the same time, there are many situations where face-to-face collaboration makes the process much easier. Some companies could begin looking for offices with large floor plans that make working together while socially distancing more accessible. 

Class A office space will also focus more on specific amenities. KBS CEO Chuck Schreiber described these new demands well:

Now, we have the added element of preventing viral transmission, which is being achieved through changing office layouts; increased sanitation; installing barriers like plexiglass between workstations; adding antibacterial surfaces, like copper; erecting signage aimed at reducing crowding; and installing touchless technology to operate equipment in common areas, like elevators and appliances. This additional layer is expected to be a part of office development and operation for the foreseeable future.

Overall, companies will be looking to reduce the chance of airborne and surface COVID transmission in their office spaces in the immediate future. But we could see that trend continue to future-proof structures against novel illnesses in the coming years. 

Office space will adapt—and demand should increase overall

Companies will return to the offices, but they’ll want different things from landlords than before COVID-19. This pandemic has made it evident that we have to work to curb the spread of illness inside the workforce, and businesses will want to keep these practices up to reduce employee sick days and promote good health.

It’ll be up to property owners to adapt to the changing workspace by providing these organizations with the new elements they look for in class A office space. 

Morris Southeast Group can assist as you evaluate adapting your office buildings to the new normal. We’ll provide solid advice to lower vacancy rates and attract businesses to your facilities while keeping in mind the capital availability to execute changes and the potential ROI. And if you are looking to lease space, we can find facilities that meet your workforce’s safety and volume needs—remote, in-person, or a likely mix of both.

Call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach out directly to Ken Morris by phone at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

Creative Ways to Repurpose Abandoned Malls & Big-Box Stores After COVID-19

Getting Creative to Repurpose Abandoned Malls and Big-Box Stores

Many large retail spaces are sitting empty because of retailers going out of business, but there are novel strategies to reuse these spaces

Although the struggles of shopping malls and big-box stores aren’t new, as eCommerce has been cutting into their sales for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the final straw for many retailers.

Coresight Research estimates that 25% of the country’s 1,000 malls will close within three to five years, and as many as 25,000 stores could close in 2020 alone.

Malls are struggling after having their anchor stores go out of business without other retailers to pick up the slack. Even big-name brands like Men’s Wearhouse, J.C. Penney, and J. Crew have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of the pandemic.

Simultaneously, discount chains like Target, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot are thriving, as they provide the necessities at lower prices than many other retailers can match.

But what if a retail property doesn’t have a Wal-Mart or Target to help keep it afloat?

Developers and owners have to repurpose the space for another use. And the good news is that there are some emerging options to consider once we’re through the current crisis.

The situation before COVID

Traditional retail stores closing isn’t a new trend. It’s harder for certain companies to survive in a brick-and-mortar environment when online retailers can offer more selection and an ultra-convenient shopping experience. Many online shops also have significantly less overhead, allowing them to reduce their prices.

These changes in shopping patterns have led to various big-box spaces and malls closing their doors. But developers are turning some of these spaces into completely different entities.

For example, the Under Armour headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, sits on a 58-acre site once home to a Sam’s Club and several other businesses.

Other reused big-box store examples include:

  • A former Meijer store in Greenville, Michigan, is now the Rock City Indoor BMX track
  • A one-time Sam’s Club in Olathe, Kansas, has a new life as the Heartland Community Church
  • An Indianapolis Toys “R” Us became a charter school

There are various examples of malls coming back with a new purpose, too:

  • The Mayfield Mall in Mountain View, California, is currently one of Google’s headquarters
  • The Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch, Tennessee, has become a skating rink
  • In Englewood, Colorado, the Cinderella City Mall now features residential units, retail shops, offices, and an art museum

There are numerous ways to repurpose former big-box stores and empty shopping malls, but the strategy might change a bit because of COVID-19.

The current landscape

We’re seeing less demand for corporate headquarters and other establishments that gather mass amounts of people because of the pandemic. With so much of the workforce currently operating remotely, there’s less need for larger office buildings. And some existing recreational facilities sit empty or at reduced capacity because people can’t be within six feet of each other.

So, what is the solution to these empty buildings?

It takes significant adaptation, but there are examples of commercial real estate owners repurposing empty malls, big-box stores, and other retail shops into indoor farms.

One such location is AeroFarms in Newark, New Jersey, which has indoor farms in buildings that were once steel mills, nightclubs, schools, and laser tag arenas. Today, AeroFarms operates the largest indoor vertical farm globally, producing food for people throughout the Newark area.

Another indoor farm, Wilder Fields, is currently under construction in a former Target store in Calumet City, Illinois. Once completed, it will have 24 separate rooms over its 135,000-square-foot space and produce enough crops to distribute to supermarkets and select restaurants in the area.

Medical marijuana is another crop that can thrive indoors, as is the case with a former JC Penney store at Copper Country Mall in Houghton, Michigan. The business plans to act as a dispensary that grows its products on-site in the abandoned store.

It’s also possible to turn these stores into fish farms, which are advantageous because their waste can feed other crops within the facility.

Central Detroit Christian Farm and Fishery took over a retail location from a food market and now operates an indoor fish farm featuring tilapia. The irrigation system pumps wastewater from the fish tanks to fertilize the on-site crops, creating an eco-friendly food source in a space otherwise sitting empty.

These examples of property owners reusing empty commercial buildings in creative ways provide hope for the post-pandemic world. The world is changing, but large spaces remain useful and can benefit society beyond their original purpose.

Modern solutions for modern problems

As we come out of the COVID-19 recession, some CRE sectors and buildings will fare worse than others—and various empty buildings won’t have enough tenants. Commercial real estate owners and developers will have to get creative if they wish to fill specific structures, especially as the virus’s course remains unclear.

If you’re struggling to decide on the next step for your retail property, Morris Southeast Group can help. We have our finger on the pulse of the commercial real estate environment and can assist as you adapt to the changing world.

Give us a call at 954.474.1776 for expert guidance. You can also reach Ken Morris directly by phone at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

5 Reasons Commercial Real Estate Occupiers/Tenants Benefit from Using a Tenant Rep Advisor

5 Reasons Commercial Real Estate Occupiers/Tenants Benefit from Using a Tenant Rep Advisor  morrissegroup.com
Lease Agreement

Negotiating the new normal during the pandemic’s fallout and beyond

Over the past few months, we’ve written a lot about the impact COVID-19 has had on commercial real estate. In a short span, the landscape drastically changed—from commercial real estate (CRE) prospects to rent strategies to strategies for business survival.

Another area that has been affected is the role of tenant advisors. For many tenants, the reasons they chose an advisor in a pre-pandemic world have taken on an urgent and even essential character. And in some ways, tenant reps are uniquely positioned to help businesses manage a new normal characterized by new space requirements, issues, and opportunities.

1. Negotiation

When it comes to tenant broker/advisors, many people believe their sole purpose is to broker lease negotiations. In fact, there are many other benefits. But there is no denying that knowledge of comparable amenities and monthly rents, as well as keeping a wary eye out for hidden fees, lease pitfalls, concessions, and confusing language all come together to assist the tenant in achieving the best terms.

2. Access

It’s common for a tenant to search for available properties on public websites. But these sources are only the tip of the CRE iceberg. A professional and well-seasoned tenant advisor, armed with local market experience and internal tools of the trade, will have greater access to properties, many of which will be better suited to your needs and price range.

3. Networks

Tenant reps, particularly those who are well-established, can recommend a team of experts to assist the tenant in turning a newly leased space into something that meets his or her needs. The importance of this service has grown as businesses must adapt structures to social-distancing requirements. Resources can include architects, designers, space-planning experts, air-quality companies and maintenance contractors.

4. Representation

In most cases, tenant rep fees—just like fees for the listing broker—are covered in the price of the leased space. In other words, landlords already expect that a tenant rep will be part of the process. In transactions without the involvement of a tenant advisor, the landlord’s leasing agent will just be paid more. When a tenant contracts with a qualified advisor, it’s an indication that they are serious about negotiating and will do so in good faith. And the advisor always maintains a constant focus on the tenant’s interests.

5.  COVID-19

Ultimately, all of these benefits are tied to the current state of affairs, as COVID-19 has significantly changed the CRE equation. Just a few months ago, it was a landlord’s market. But quarantines have forced landlords and tenants, very often with the assistance of tenant reps, to renegotiate leases to keep both sides of the table afloat.

Now that the economy is re-opening and utilization requirements have changed, tenants have more leverage as landlords compete to fill vacancies with reliable income streams.

Using a tenant advisor representative in South Florida

Tenants in South Florida are finding themselves in a unique position as they work to start new endeavors or save existing ones while navigating leases, re-opening phases, and the spike in new COVID-19 cases. The tenant advisory service at Morris Southeast Group can alleviate the stress of searching for the ideal space and negotiating lease terms, while helping businesses adapt to new requirements.

To learn more about what Morris Southeast Group can do for you now and in the future, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

Millennials on the Move to the Suburbs?

The new downtown is often in suburbia

Leave it to the Millennials. Regardless of the misplaced blame that generation receives, there’s no denying that they have single-handedly changed the real estate landscape as much as Boomers have.

Consider the urban downtown landscape, a space that was transformed by a live/work/play lifestyle that embraces walkability and experiences. With Millennial needs and developer visions coming together, city block after city block filled with residential towers, galleries, cafes, and coffeehouses.

There comes a time, though, when every generation grows up, and priorities change. For a generation of Millennials on the cusp of middle age, those changes have meant children, skyrocketing rents, and the realization that cities may not provide all that’s necessary—things like detached homes, private yards, and good schools.

In other words, suburbia.

Not your parents’ suburbia

In many ways, Millennial desires closely mimic those of the Boomers, the generation that grew up in the first suburbs. This new generation, though, isn’t exactly interested in their parents’ or grandparents’ suburban experience, first made popular in places like Levittown, NY. Instead, they’re looking for suburbia with an urban twist.

For developers, this trend is significant. Studies indicate that Millennials will form two million households per year for the next ten years. In Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa, for example, Millennials are the number-one new-home purchasers. Similarly, Miami, Miami Beach, and Fort Lauderdale are in the top 10 Florida communities with the largest increase in Millennials since 2010.

The suburban resurgence & CRE

Just after World War II, when William Levitt devised his master plan for Levittown—“the prototypical American suburb”—one of its hallmarks was a town green. Located within easy walking distance to various neighborhoods, the spaces were reminiscent of the city neighborhoods from which new residents had come. They included greenery, a playground, and a strip mall with essential services, such as a laundromat and delicatessen. At some point, though, suburbs sprawled, and convenience felt farther away.

With the Millennial push for suburbia, developers are taking a look at the master plan for both new and established communities. Developers are examining how to create town centers that embrace the same live/work/play lifestyle that made city downtowns the place to be.

Desired tenants may include craft breweries, rooftop restaurants, cafes, retail, service businesses that present employment opportunities, shared workspaces, event venues, galleries, and pop-up opportunities to test market ideas. Another priority is businesses that provide Millennials ways to include their young families. A shared trait is that all of these areas should be easy to get to, and just as easy to get home from.

The COVID-19 connection

As with most things these days, there’s a pandemic factor. While COVID-19 isn’t responsible for the new interest in suburbia, it has certainly played a role in revving it up.

As metropolitan areas around the country were quarantined, wealthy residents fled the cities for their summer homes in the suburbs to escape contagion and claustrophobia. Many younger generations rented homes or moved back into the suburban houses in which they were raised. In the suburbs, it was simply easier to be socially distant and still get outside, even if that outside was a private yard.

Offices are also looking at the suburban landscape in response to COVID-19. CDC re-opening guidelines suggest employees commute alone and that businesses restrict the use of elevators—two concepts that don’t gel with working in an urban high-rise. For some companies, relocating to properties outside of the city center may make it easier to manage risk.

The new American Dream

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all American Dream. The span of Millennial ages runs from 24 to 40 years of age. That’s at least two to three different life stage brackets and an income span that’s just as wide.

While some Millennials may be looking in more affluent suburbs, others are opting for more affordable options. In either case, developers have been presented with an opportunity to look beyond metropolitan centers—and this may be one element of a post-COVID world.

To learn more about what Morris Southeast Group can do for you now and in the future, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

South Florida Commercial Trend: Going Green

Green commercial building is something thatbs catching throughout the country b no surprise considering the fact that more businesses are becoming more aware of the impact that they have on the environment. Green construction is especially prominent in South Florida, where Miami is one of the top cities for green commercial buildings.

According to a recent study conducted by Maastrict University in conjunction with the CBRE Group, Miami ranked ninth in the country for green commercial construction, with an impressive 19.4 percent of its commercial real estate having been certified as green. There are a total of 79 buildings in Miami with a total of 21 million square feet of office space that have either been approved by Energy Star or have received U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification.

Miami has fully committed to green construction, as evidenced by its municipal code, which requires all new private development consisting of more than 50,000 square feed to achieve a LEED silver certification.

As a South Florida business looking for new office space, be sure to look for buildings certified as being green. For more information about office space in the area, be sure to contact us at Morris Southeast today.

Make Sure Your Office Helps Employees Achieve Their Best Life

One of the most effective ways to ensure that your employees are productive is to make sure that they are living a balanced life, both at the office and at home. The happier they are, the more productive they will be. The following are a few tips to improve employee happiness and, therefore, their productivity.

  • Create a positive culture b Great office culture results in a more motivating environment. In fact, many applicants are willing to take a 7% salary cut if they believe the office culture is a good fit for them.

  • Offer growth opportunity b Employees who feel like they are stuck arenbt going to be very productive. Offering opportunity within the company will motivate employees to be more productive.
  • Provide office amenities -B By providing your employees with different office amenities, such as an office gym, you’ll help them to achieve more of a work-life balance. It also shows employees that you care about their welfare, plus provides them with a physical outlet for any work-related stress.

These are just a few tips for providing your employees with a better life balance.B B ContactB B us at Morris Southeast for advice on designing your office in South Florida.

Include Plants in Your Office for a Healthier Work Environment

Most people think that putting up a few plants around the office is just a way to make the space look nicer. While plants do help improve the interior design of any space, therebs much more to using plants in the office than just as dC)cor. Plants can actually help improve the health of your employees as well as increase their productivity.

Toxin Removal

First of all, plants help to make the office much healthier. Plants remove around 87 percent of the toxins in the air within 24 hours.

Humidity Stabilization

They also help to establish a humidity level that matches the human comfort range of 30 to 60 percent. This affects your employees in a number of ways. First of all, a healthier environment means fewer sick workers. Studies show that absenteeism is reduced form 15 percent to 5 percent.

Productivity Increases

Secondly, a number of studies have shown that productivity improves as well. For example, 15 percent more ideas are generated by individuals working in an office that has plants.

These are just some of the reasons why you should use plants in the offices of your South Florida business. Contact us at Morris Southeast Group for additional South Florida business advice.

Office Trends for a Cheerier Workplace

In the past, office spaces were designed to be efficient, even if that meant making them a bit dull and unexciting for employees. However, many business owners have now realized that a cheery workplace can actually make employees more productive and functional instead of wasting time. Use these tips to make your office a more cheerful place that employees will actually enjoy during the work day.

  • More kitchens, places to eat and common areas. These items make an office feel more like a home and make employees comfortable. Theybll also be less likely to worry about pulling long shifts or staying to get their work done.
  • Open spaces. The days of cubicles that enclose employees in their defined space are pretty much over. Instead, employers are opening up the floor plan to allow for better communication and sightlines. Open space also boosts natural sunlight and makes employees feel less lethargic in many cases.
  • Bright colors. Like open spaces, bright colors make employees feel happier and more functional in the office. Some colors can also improve mood and make employees feel more energetic!

Contact Morris Southeast for more information on finding the perfect office space for your business and employees.

Is an Open Floor Plan Causing Stress in Your Office?

When you think of a corporate atmosphere, the thought of an open office would seem to encourage communication and foster productivity, right? In many cases, open office floor plans are actually counterproductive. Surprisingly, it makes a lot of sense. Here are a few reasons that cubicles in the office may not be so bad after all.

Lack of Privacy

Privacy is a big motivating factor for productive thought and creative vision. Open offices are a detriment to those beneficial necessities.

Feeds Absenteeism

Wide, open spaces can also be big pools for sickness. Itbs easier to catch a cold when there are no physical boundaries between work stations.

Easy Disruptions

When the option to walk into a room and shut the door doesnbt exist, workers are forced to deal with one anotherbs disruptions. That limits the ability to concentrate, which has a direct impact on getting work done.

Ageless Issues

Younger workers may tolerate open offices more than older workers, but the aforementioned reasons tend to catch up with everyone, eventually.

Morris Southeast can help you find the right commercial space to fit your office needs. Contact us for more information and get started on your search today.

"Campus" Offices Might Attract More Young Talent to Your Company

Employees are used to seeing rows of cubicles in the office, but this isn’t necessarily the way things have to be. That trend may be changing as new research has suggested that formatting the space of an office more like a college is a great way to retain employees, particularly millennials.

If you are seeking young employees for your business, you should know that many young adults leave jobs because they do not feel the company is a good “cultural” fit. Employers want their employees to work as efficiently as possible, but cubicles in the office are just not appealing. It can also cost $15,000-$25,000 dollars to replace a millennial worker.

Companies are now experimenting with different office designs. Many of these offices have elements that are college inspired, such as ping pong tables and other familiar elements of a college campus mess hall.

If you are interested to see how you can improve your office, contact us to see how we can help you meet your goals.

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