By Corné van Rooyen – Head of Residential, Commercial, Education, Hospitality and Mixed-Use at Fernridge Solutions
There has been a great deal of speculation amongst franchisors, franchisees, and business owners around the future of office and retail space in a post-COVID-19 environment. This article explores some of the factors impacting office and retail space and the changing commercial property industry,
Businesses are increasingly looking to provide employees with a greater degree of flexibility in their working environments. This is a trend that started pre-COVID-19 and the pandemic, and resultant national lockdowns across the globe, have merely accelerated the pace at which the shift is taking place. The franchise industry and its franchisors and franchisees have been affected by this trend as this is not always possible, depending on the franchise sector and product or service offering i.e., Fast Food,Retail and Education.
For those that can embrace the shift, it is partly attributed to a growing millennial workforce, who want to be able to choose when and where to perform their tasks. As a result, workplace flexibility has become a deciding factor for millennials when choosing between different companies.
Technology development is another factor that has contributed to the shift in how employees operate. The use of technology has enabled various other businesses and franchise sectors, such as online retail, to grow substantially in the last few years.
As a result, there has been a complete behavioural change in how employees and consumers work and shop. The rate of change has meant that the behavioural change is not only seen with early adopters, but with the average employee and consumer.
Employees are spending less time in the office, with an increase in remote work. However, not all workers are more efficient working from home, which has meant there has been a massive increase in the demand for co-work facilities. Research conducted by KcKinsey & Company found that more than 20% of the workforce in advanced economies could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could if working from an office. While employees are spending less time in the office, most companies still see value in having a physical office presence. Employees typically cite the need for collaboration with team members as
 Lund, S., Madgavkar, A., Manyika, J., and Smith, S. (2020). ‘What’s next for remote work: An analysis of 2,000 tasks, 800 jobs, and nine countries’. McKinsey Global Institute, 23 November. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/whats-next-for-remote-work-an-analysis-of-2000-tasks-800-jobs-and-nine-countries (Accessed: 3 December 2020).