Working post-COVID… for the times, they are a-changin’

You may have seen the headline “OpenText won’t reopen half of its physical offices post COVID-19 pandemic”. In the article, the writer says Opentext’s CEO Mark Barrenechea “is saying out loud what a lot of C-level executives are thinking. The new normal will require less commercial real estate as the capital expenses required can be deployed elsewhere.”

So, staring into my crystal ball, I think there are a bunch of post-COVID realities that will force more companies to make similar moves beyond the economic savings:

I suspect the implications of COVID will be immense impact on real estate, and not only the commercial sector. If a person does not need to live close to work to avoid the commute, what will be the impact on the condo market? Will this be the death of the 550 square foot one-bedroom condo because people will now need a one-bedroom condo with two offices for the couple who lives there. What will happen to Toronto red-hot and expensive house prices when a person doesn’t need to live on the subway line to be close to work.

Also think about the impact on retail, small business food court franchisees, restaurants and others that depend on “going to work” related foot traffic for customers.

Think about how companies in our products and services supply chain will need to respond to the changes of stay at-home employees. As a colleague pointed out, we won’t use less toilet paper but more will need to be packaged for the consumer market and less for the commerical market. Same likely goes for food packaging. We will likely need less commerical janitorial services and more aimed at our new home office market. And again, the list goes on…

Yup, Opentext’s announcement is just the thin edge of the wedge.

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