In 2020, Bay Area landlords and tenants alike watched in horror as their premium downtown real estate cleared out, resembling something of a ghost town. The move to abandon the office was absolutely necessary to protect the safety of our employees and clients, but what is the cost to pay as we return?
Quezada Architecture is seeing an increased interest from our clients to consider their options, and the options are vast. From restacking a current office to exploring new properties, building new or renovating for a flexible staffing model, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. From this interest, building management is adapting the traditional building tour to accommodate socially distanced or virtual guests. For those debating the difference, it is my take that a virtual tour does not remotely compare to the enormous value of an in-person walk through.
Mike Phillips of Bisnow London described it best, saying “there are some things a virtual tour can never re-create: Commercial property is a uniquely diverse sector where no two assets are the same. There are some things that are inevitably missed if a buyer or potential tenant cannot physically walk the asset, […] all play a part in holding back investment and leasing decisions while assets have to primarily be viewed on a screen”.
We must remember, that similar to social media, real estate digital assets present the most desirable version of the real thing. Virtual tools certainly help, but there is nothing like experiencing the space in real time, and you only get a sense of the true fit when you visit in person (especially considering current distancing guidelines that will be implemented in the workplace). Here at QA, we just went through a site selection process with a client from London. With travel schedules and COVID-19 restrictions, it was difficult for them to be present at all the tours. Our design team became their eyes and ears on the ground in San Francisco, and thanks to agile movement on feasibility studies, the client was able to move decisions forward after reviewing a realistic analysis of each location.
There is no question: the office will be making a comeback. But making the right decision on real estate has never been more critical. Engage your architect early to avoid costly mistakes down the line.