As a real estate manager, I am looking at all the square footage we have invested in the meeting rooms and realise we will just need to write it off for the duration of the pandemic.
But what about afterwards? There is a lot of rethinking going on; about how we use space in the future, how much we need, and how often we go to the office to use it. I wonder if that will change the way we meet and so change the way we create space for those meetings.
Can we see a day when confidential meetings are conducted over Zoom and, on the odd day we actually go into an office, do we just need comfortable space in which to gather and chat about stuff?
How about we take the fronts off those meeting rooms that are against the perimeter and turn them into booths?
Let’s demolish the centre space meeting rooms and build a café!
Possibly a little drastic, but risk management collides with economics here. How much risk does a meeting room pose to business continuity? (Think about an entire team being infected at the same time.) How long can a company keep paying for significant levels of space that is not used? (What percentage of your space is meeting rooms?)
Right now there are still more questions than answers in the world of workplace, but I believe it is vital that, in the middle of our thinking about sanitiser gel, masks and one way systems, we do not forget the changes being ushered in by COVID-19, and what that will mean for the way we think about offices.
Mike Walley is Senior Director of Global Real Estate & Workplace Strategy at Criteo