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What Happens Next? Cushman & Wakefield Forms Post-Pandemic Recovery Task Force

Real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield has formed a group of company executives in various specialties to examine the course of the still-uncertain recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The group, formally known as the Recovery Readiness Task Force, will help prepare clients for recovery and their eventual return to the workplace, according to the company.

Cushman & Wakefield Global Brokerage Chairman Bruce Mosler

The group's first order of business will be to release a set of protocols for tenants and landlords to use when planning to return to workplaces, Cushman & Wakefield said in a press release.

The company will draw on its current experience in China, where roughly a million workers are now moving back into about 1,000 buildings in 80 cities that it oversees with Vanke Service. That entity is a joint venture that Cushman & Wakefield and Chinese real estate company Vanke China established late last year.

Cushman & Wakefield hasn't released an estimated timeline of when U.S. workers might go back to work, or how long recovery might take for each property type.

The shape of the recovery is unknowable, Cushman & Wakefield Chief Economist and Global Head of Research Kevin Thorpe told Bisnow by email. Thorpe is one of the members of the group.

"The path of the virus, its duration, its severity — too many unknowns," Thorpe said. "Economically, we're certainly hoping for a V-shape recovery, but the reality is, there are many scenarios that are still on the table — short U, long U, W.

"So we're modeling each one, and we are focused on helping our clients think through the distribution of possible outcomes very carefully."

Damage has been done to East Asian office markets that are serving as a guide for the group. Cushman & Wakefield forecast, for example, that Hong Kong office rents will drop by as much 18% this year, as leasing demand contracted the most it has in 18 years in that city, which is a Special Administrative Region of China.

Demand for Hong Kong office space dropped especially sharply in the finance, insurance and coworking sectors, the company reports.

Cushman & Wakefield Global President John Forrester will lead the Recovery Readiness Task Force. Other members besides Thorpe are Global Brokerage Chairman Bruce Mosler, Head of Occupier Business Performance Despina Katsikakis, C&W Services Chief Executive Paul Bedborough, Head of Netherlands Jeroen Lokerse, Chief Digital Officer Adam Stanley and Head of New Commerce Research Jason Tolliver.