By Susan Soroko, Director of Creative Economy, Arlington Economic Development
When the Return on Creativity virtual series began planning the July 13 session on Return to Work, it was well before the vaccination rate reached past 60% in Arlington and mask wearing was still mandated in public settings. Among the hyper rapid changes emerging as companies and employees re-imagine going back to a traditional office space, no one could have anticipated how many circumstances would change.
At the March Return on Creativity event on Workforce, speakers were not only cognizant of the need for flexibility with their employees, but many had a big concern about women leaving their jobs to manage family and life needs. The role of ‘place’ was a major consideration for companies grappling both with leases and amenities.
Now, reaching closer to a ‘return’ date for companies, government and employees, the Return on Creativity programming team looked to industry leaders pressed to make decisions, many decisions. In a recent Agile World podcast, one leader, David Cornbrooks, Senior Managing Director, Savills North America, a global real estate advisory company, gave listeners a preview of what they’ll hear him discuss during the Return to Work event. To begin, Savills Technology Practice Group Survey from March 2021 reflected that a majority of companies anticipated that most employees would return to the office by Q3 2021. But within a month of that being published, vaccinations became more readily available, guidelines have relaxed and many people are more comfortable being out. Coupled with employees speaking out about return to work expectations and a potential tsunami of job changes, companies are a bit nervous as well as careful about short and long term strategies.
So what can be learned from a global real estate advisory firm perspective? For one thing, flexibility is here to stay. Good communication can’t be overlooked. And policies must be in place for equity around virtual meetings with supporting technology.
At the end of the day, businesses must have an office worth coming to.