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Post-COVID-19 Era: Radical Change in Bangkok Office Market

April 07, 2020
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At present, people are talking about how a 100-year event like the COVID-19 global outbreak will create another split in our historical timeline to Pre- and Post-COVID-19. CBRE, an international property consultant, reveals that this is especially true in the Bangkok office market where behaviour and use of space will be radically changed within a period of less than a year.

“For many years now, companies have been exploring remote work or work-from-home strategies to either minimise costs or cope with the changes of Millennial behaviour during the Pre-COVID-19 period. At this time, almost every company, even those who are underprepared, is being forced to undertake this new way of working without a choice,” stated Ms. Roongrat Veeraparkkaroon, Head of Advisory & Transaction Services – Office, CBRE Thailand.

Companies are experimenting a work-from-home policy and perceive an opportunity that it could work when applied to certain business functions and set the right balance between empowering and monitoring teams. This could mean that the future workplace will have a combination of agile workplace which could be a permanent office as well as work-from-home, and co-working space.

The outbreak is acting as a catalyst that will give a company a clear view whether its remote working policy, which it has been considering, works. Once businesses realise what platform or infrastructure they are missing to support remote work, tech services companies will be one of the first beneficiaries after the storm has passed.

“Many organisations will be looking for satellite offices and cloud-based platforms as a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to ensure their businesses will not go dark if their headquarters could not be accessed. Co-working space will be one of the best choices in this case as the company can rent space on demand only when needed. However, in the Post-COVID-19 world, co-working space operators will need solid measures to satisfy users that their space are safe and well-prepared,” Ms. Roongrat added.

CBRE found that while some hotels in Bangkok have decided to shut down during the lockdown period as occupancy rates were in a single-digit level, some organizations have been renting meeting or conference rooms within hotels for weeks to be their backup meeting space when needed.

Ms. Roongrat commented, “Agile workplace has been a hot topic in the Pre-COVID-19 world, where collaboration and engagement are encouraged. Initially, agile workplace might sound like a high-risk option for companies at this time; however, as the name suggests, agile workplace or Activity Based Work areas can be easily reconfigured to support social distancing strategies and split teams within offices. Paperless office makes this transition even more seamless.”

In a bigger picture, CBRE Research witnesses many office developments in Bangkok will be delayed as construction activities are halted or postponed as developers take a more defensive stance to assess the situation on a daily basis. It is also possible that development plans will be revised to make projects more appealing in the Post-COVID-19 era with better property management system, air filtration (as PM2.5 still lingers in the Bangkok skyline) or a well-thought-out BCP to support the tenants.

Agile and adaptive will be key words in the Post-COVID-19 office market, not only to increase efficiency of a workplace but to prepare a business for any unforeseen changes that could occur in the future.

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