Despite Pandemic Challenges, Houston Office Space Isn’t Going Anywhere

While working from home has shown to be effective and it’s easy to stay connected with today’s technology, it’s clear that Houston office space is here to stay.

There’s no question about it: the global coronavirus pandemic has changed so many things about daily life, chief among them our workspaces. Millions of people across the United States have been working diligently from home for the past six months, bringing widespread challenges to the commercial real estate industry. But while working from home has shown to be effective and it’s easy to stay connected with today’s technology, it’s clear that Houston office space is here to stay.

Besides company shutdowns and loss of revenue forcing the vacancy of many Houston office space, companies may be wondering if their spaces are even necessary with employees successfully working from home. As it turns out, working from the office is necessary for both our sanity and our humanity – as social creatures, it’s difficult for us to limit our in-person interaction. And while many companies may encourage some level of working from home when things return to “normal,” steady real estate activity in Houston indicates that office space is still very much needed.

The fact is, working from the office is beneficial to one’s health. It provides variety to our routines and gets us out of the house, while giving us a healthy boundary between “home” as a place to relax and unwind, and “work” as a place to focus on our professional objectives. It’s even good for our physical health, allowing us to walk to the coffee shop or conference room instead of sitting in one place for hours on end. The importance of the atmosphere and variety an office space adds to our lives can’t be understated.

While the numbers show that Houston’s office sector had a tough second quarter, direct leasing and subleasing transactions still took place, and several large leases were signed in Q2. Downtown, an unnamed global financial services firm leased 250K SF at 600 Travis Street, a 75-story office building formerly known as the JPMorgan Chase Center owned and managed by Hines.

And in Montrose, Skanska USA Commercial Development, the company that built the Bank of America tower in Houston, closed on a three-acre tract at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose Boulevard for $27 million. The plans will likely entail a mixed-use development that includes apartments, office space and retail.

2020 has seen the future of the way we work drastically change. Even when the pandemic subsides, companies will still utilize their employees’ enhanced abilities to work from home. But there’s something about the empowering feeling of an office space and how it brings workers together and underlines company culture that has kept the office sector of Houston moving, however slowly. Those worried about the complete disappearance of office spaces can rest assured that they aren’t going anywhere.

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