An analysis of COVID-19’s impact on the office sector: forecasts and outcomes
This study is the first in a four-part series that provides a new perspective on COVID-19’s impact on the commercial real estate (CRE) industry and the future of the office. In part one, “Global Office Impact Report and Recovery Timing,” we examine the aggregate cyclical and structural impacts on the office sector. We also present forecast scenarios and/or possible outcomes.
Part 1 of our Series “New Perspective: From Pandemic to Performance”
COVID-19 is disrupting the economy, accelerating shifts and creating structural changes that will persist for years. Several forces are at play—from office-using job losses, to higher vacancy and downward pressure on rental rates, to an increase in the share of employees who will now work from home either permanently or more regularly.
In this study:
- We examine both the aggregate cyclical and structural impacts on the office sector’s fundamentals.
- We present three forecast scenarios that illustrate probable and/or possible recovery timing based on the information at hand today.
Key findings include:
- Global office vacancy will rise from 10.9% pre-crisis (2019 Q4) to 15.6% in 2022 Q2.
- As the economy and employment recover, the globe’s office sector begins absorbing space in 2022 Q1 and vacancy begins trending downwards from that point forward. Global office vacancy returns to pre-crisis levels of approximately 11% by 2025.
- Rents bottom in 2022 Q1 and begin appreciating from that point forward, returning to pre-crisis peak levels in 2025.
- The potential reversal of a decades-long trend of densification in which businesses have been absorbing less space per office-using employee. COVID-19 is requiring society to social distance in the near-term and disrupting the trend.