After a slowdown in professional activity in 2020, the signs of recovery are encouraging.
Virginie Houzé is the director of research at real estate firm JLL, a specialist in the professional real estate market. During an interview in early January 2021 on franceinfo, she took stock of office real estate in the Paris region.
“Companies will continue to offer offices to their employees”, says Virginie Houzé, for whom “the role of the office is in no way questioned but is even rather revalued. Teleworking doesn’t solve everything. Offices have a real role to play.“
An international study of employees indicates that three out of four employees ask to return to the office, either alternately (part of the week at home and part in the office) or permanently. Workers justify their desire to return to the office as follows: it is a positive choice, and they want to go there because they feel involved in a business project, but also to collaborate with other colleagues. Teleworking does not solve everything, and the role of the office is revalued, as Virginie Houzé summarizes: “The office is no longer just a tertiary factory with offices; it is a place of collaboration and value creation. So we’re going to re-imagine the office, reinvent it.“
New trends are emerging
At the same time, it seems obvious that some paradigms need to be reimagined, and that the market will have to follow and adapt, too. For example by adopting new business practices like some co-working spaces that have already started “offering shorter contracts. This makes it possible to engage and disengage faster. This flexibility is a new market parameter that didn’t exist in previous crises.” In this regard, 2020 was a year of acceleration or emergence of new trends.
The numbers are encouraging: in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, office space used in Île-de-France fluctuated every three months between 200,000 and 250,000m2. In Q4 2020, this area exceeded 400,000m2. The deployment of vaccination in 2021 will obviously play a key role in strengthening the trend and unlocking the real estate projects (purchase, rental) that were on hold. And allow the full recovery of professional real estate, a sector that naturally serves as a barometer for the sound health of the French economy.