The workforce currently working from home is poised to double after the pandemic ends, says the CEO of global commercial real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield. Chief executive Brett White told CNBC that he believes as much as 10% of the U.S. workforce could be working from home permanently.
As a result of the pandemic, Cushman and Wakefield has seen a major decline in quarterly revenue. White sees this pain as just the beginning and estimates office vacancies will reach 15% to 18% in the future. He says employees and their fears about contracting COVID-19 are driving the trend.
“They don’t feel safe, and they also don’t feel it’s worth the hassle—because they’re not required to go to work, it’s not worth the hassle to go back to the office right now,” White said in the interview.
Still, he says, people are pining for the workplace. According to the report, Cushman and Wakefield surveyed 100 companies globally, and 90% of employees indicated that they want to go back to the office eventually.
White thinks employers will start moving small numbers of people back into offices between the fall and early 2021. However, he doesn’t see the office market returning to normalcy for another two or three years.
Several tech companies have been giving up office spaces, including Facebook and Twitter. Last week, industry analyst CBRE published a report showing that the 10 biggest markets for tech companies had a 12% increase in office space for sublease since the beginning of the pandemic.