It has been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic emptied office buildings in downtown Seattle and sent many workers into a “new normal” of remote work.
However, a recent report found that the demand for office space in the Emerald City is growing and “within the reach of the pre-crisis”.
The VTS Office Demand Index found that office rental demand in Seattle is down 24% from pre-crisis levels a year ago. Strong increases were seen in January and February as vaccination efforts increase and more people are eligible for inclusion.
Nationwide, the report found that office demand declined by over 85% nationwide between February and May 2020 as stay-at-home orders were removed. Now, however, demand has only fallen by around a third and is showing signs of recovery in many metropolitan areas.
New York City, Seattle and Washington, DC lead the country with the fastest growth in demand last month.
According to Nick Romito, CEO of VTS, the data shows an increase in confidence and optimism about the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
“Last year was one of the darkest periods we’ve seen in commercial office rental history. Given the uncertainty about how the pandemic would affect businesses and their employees, we’ve moved from a period of healthy demand for office space A zero demand developed overnight – it was an alarming momentum, “Romito said in a press release. “While we saw some growth in demand in the second half of 2020, the exponential surge in the first two months of 2021 combined with the Biden administration’s announcement that all Americans would be in for the vaccine by May 1, 2021 Ask a question, create confidence straight away that a significant recovery is on the horizon. “
While demand in Seattle is showing signs of a comeback, other cities like Boston and Chicago are still lagging behind. Office demand in Boston is still 65% below pre-crisis levels, while Chicago is currently 45% below pre-crisis levels.
Some large companies in the Puget Sound area have already started moving employees back into offices. Facebook was the first tech company in the region to reopen offices at 10% capacity in early March.
Redmond-based Microsoft followed suit later in the month with a “soft opening” of their sites, although workers may choose to continue teleworking under their new hybrid workplace model.
But it’s not just big companies back to work – the report found that midsize office tenants are also renting space. The average Seattle footprint in February was over 17.6 square feet and showed signs of growth.