The increasing number of people working remotely doesn’t mean reduced demand for office space, as the function of the workplace will be redefined to suit other needs.

A recent survey by JLL Property Services (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd indicates that office space remains as a place for collaboration, innovation, social interaction, as well as engagement with colleagues, clients and other stakeholders.

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“The key considerations in [setting up] new offices [now] include how the office is used and designed. For example, physical distancing could induce de-densification of the workplace, which in turn may translate to higher space requirement. Office re-entry depends on government’s regulations and we expect higher footprints once cases drop and movement restriction orders ease,” JLL country head YY Lau tells

Citing from JLL’s publications series called (Re)imagine, Lau says that the flexibility in tenancy, property management quality, technology tools and features (such as Internet of Things), design and layout innovation, as well as health and wellbeing attributes of the buildings will influence the decision making of business owners moving forward as companies may right-size their space requirements to accommodate flexible workforces and work-outside-office arrangements.

“With greater economic uncertainties, business owners will typically take a more cautious approach to their spending and this has an impact on office take-up. Therefore, price is obviously a consideration and the cost of rent is typically derived from supply and demand,” Lau notes.

What is the work space for now?

One question business owners need to ask themselves when setting up an office is “what am I going to use this space for?” as the answer to this will dictate the size, location and style of the office, Lau puts forth.

“Considering who your staff members are, their roles within the organisation, the types of work they do, their personal circumstances (such as last-mile internet connectivity and technology tools), where they live and how old they are will influence your office decision. Answering these simple questions will be very important in the decision making, be it the location or the look and feel,” she shares.

She notes that the continued trend towards remote working  is accelerating. This may also impact the size and site of the office as well as the layout and design, to facilitate the redefined needs for office as a space for team engagement instead. 

“JLL also believes that commuting patterns will dictate where occupiers locate their offices and that this trend will continue,” Lau adds.

This story first appeared in the e-weekly on Jan 29, 2020. You can access back issues here.

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