By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Are you working from home during the coronavirus pandemic? Pretty soon, “working from home” could become simply “working”.

That’s because the future of the traditional office space is evolving as many companies begin to rethink what their offices will look like upon reopening.

The ‘new normal’ for companies may be downsizing office size and office operations in order to move to a primarily remote operation in a post-pandemic world.

“It does not mean that businesses will change their way of doing business completely, but on the margin, when it comes to renewing a lease, you do, they really need as much space?” asked Dr. Eli Beracha of the Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU, in an interview with CBS4’s Hank Tester.

Beracha said while Zoom meetings do work for specific issues, a traditional office environment produces healthy interaction and innovation.

“There is only so much you can do from home,” he explained. “Losing social interaction and people getting together to interact, it just doesn’t work the same when you have those Zoom meetings.”

The challenge for developers, architects, and builders is how to create office facilities which reflect the economies of a reduced ‘in building’ work force.

“We know the world is going to be a little different on the other side. We just don’t know how different. I think builders and investors are taking a wait and see approach at this time,” he said.

Will commercial real estate take a hit? Will office space be empty in the future or will there be smaller buildings for office space?

“I think the pace of new construction will slow at least until we have a more clarity on where we are going. Right now, things are stepping back and lenders are not lending as much. Taking a wait and see approach,” said Beracha.

A recent study conducted by a research-based consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics estimates when the pandemic is over, 30 percent of the entire workforce will work from home at least a couple times a week. Before the pandemic, that number was in the low single digits.

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