Think Piece: Commercial real estate in the age of remote working

A few years back only the trendiest tech-companies had a work-from-home approach. Their offices were small and flexible, no assigned desks or cubicles. Instead it was all about hot desking, shared spaces and flexible hours.

No longer the realm of freelancers, working remotely is becoming more and more the norm for many companies. So much so that even large office furniture design companies have been forced to reimagine the way the office of the future will look - and if the latest IIDEX is anything to go buy, the office of the future is starting to look more like a home office than a corporate setting.


Apart from the changing interior design trends, it is becoming more evident that apart from the large multimillion companies, most companies are opting for smaller and more agile working spaces.

This makes us wonder what will happen to the large commercial buildings currently dominating the city landscape? 

Will they remain, defiant against trends, empty and waiting to be used? Will commercial real estate developers see the opportunity before them?

We can only hope for the latter - imagine commercial buildings being converted into self-contained work/live/play spaces. Residents will be able to walk down from their apartments to a floor dedicated for remote workers, adorned with desks, meeting spaces both private and open. Another part of the building could be converted into small eateries and shops, maybe even a gym.

This will create small communities in age of disconnect with your immediate surroundings, increase the walkability of a city and open up the door to many other sustainable innovations such as community vegetable gardens.

Congestion on our roads will decrease, even if not every person works from home in the building. Due to self-sustaining nature of the building and the increase in walkability fewer people would need to drive to the shops for the essentials.

Example of a warehouse that has been converted into a home

The possibilities are endless - daycare, schools, meeting spaces, shops, restaurants, housing - all contained in one building. The concept isn’t a new one. We have seen unusual spaces being transformed into homes in the past, from warehouses to barns, it only took an individual willing to look beyond what was in front of them to something it could become. The idea is the same - just on a larger scale.

While this might seem all a bit too good to be true, the building blocks are literally already there and it remains to be seen if it becomes a reality.

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