Chicago’s downtown office buildings sit almost empty, but for how long? – NBC Chicago
The work-from-home strategy adopted by many businesses and employees during the pandemic will soon change as employees return to fill downtown Chicago office buildings, according to people who manage the towering structures that make up the iconic skyline. from the city.
A recent survey of business leaders and professionals conducted by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA Chicago) found that 52% were excited to return to the office, 25% were nervous, but looking forward to it and 23% are undecided.
Commercial real estate giant JLL has said most of its commercial tenants in Chicago have kept their leases and are ready to adapt to the new workspace reality of a post-pandemic world.
“Tenants inevitably reconsider how they design their space and how often their employees can walk into the office,” said Matt Carolan, executive general manager of JLL. “So what might have typically been a five-day workweek can look like a three-day workweek where your employees come in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.”
JLL said returning employees can expect a super clean environment, cleaner air, and additional signage in many buildings.
“It may not necessarily be a permanent office anymore,” Carolan said. “It could be a temporary place to sit, but there could be conference tables. There could be areas of collaboration. “
However, downtown Chicago’s skyscrapers and office buildings remain half-filled with workers. The downtown core had a workforce capacity of about 90% before the pandemic, but a study in April found the capacity to be 11%, according to BOMA Chicago.
Just ask small business owners, many of whom rely on office workers as their primary customers.
“We see students coming back, but we still don’t see office workers or business people,” said coffee shop owner Tamar Mizrahi of Goddess and the Baker.
Michael Edwards, president and CEO of the Chicago Loop Alliance, told NBC 5 that downtown will “turn back on like a dimmer.”
“There are going to be too many cool things to do to stay home,” Edwards said. “This fear of missing out, I think, is going to become much more of a problem and an advantage for the city center.”