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Cushman & Wakefield CEO Predicts Near-Term Office Vacancy Pain To Be Offset By Job Gains


Negotiating the return to work is a multifaceted challenge that will likely depress demand, but one leading commercial real estate figure said he thinks that economic growth will eventually render the issue moot.

Though near-term office demand will shrink by 10% to 15%, the addition of new jobs will make up the difference in two to three years, Cushman & Wakefield CEO Brett White predicted in an interview with CNBC

“Right now we’ve got the lessening of space because of Covid and a different style of working ... but then also, we also have this economy now absolutely roaring back and creating new jobs,” White told CNBC. “So, yeah, you’ll see buildings that have more vacant space this year and probably next year than they’ve had in a long time. But in the midterm, two to three years, that space should be taken up again.”

As over half of adults in the U.S. have received at least their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, questions about long-term plans for office usage and remote work have become more immediate. Major employers have come out with varied plans, from Google and Goldman Sachs emphasizing their commitment to in-person work to Microsoft and Spotify planning for potentially permanent remote work for employees who want it.

As younger workers have made clear in surveys that they see in-person work as a crucial element of mentorship and network-building, some tech startups are betting that having a full office schedule could help them poach talent from other companies focusing on hybrid working, The Wall Street Journal reports. Other employees are likely to go the other direction and find new jobs rather than comply with orders to resume in-person work.