Don’t bet that offices are dead,” Michael Ballantyne, managing partner of TOK Commercial said by phone. “All COVID-19 did was accelerate office trends that were already occurring in terms of people working from home more.” The Idaho Statesman recently wrote an article addressing the future of office space in Idaho offering the perspectives of several influential contributors to Boise's office environment.
Scott Galloway, president of Office Environment Co. opined, “Before the pandemic, we would have a client call and they would want to get as many bodies in the room as possible, what we call space optimization ... Now they want to know how to keep their people safe and to help them feel safe.”
The article's key takeaway was that "demand for office space was high before the pandemic and is expected to rebound." Employee safety and well-being will be paramount. "Long rows of open desks may no longer be the norm. Cubicles are likely to be larger and more spread out to allow social distancing of at least 6 feet. Glass shields may be installed to protect workers from cough and sneeze particles flying through the air."
Scott Schoenherr, a partner at Rafanelli & Nahas (a commercial real estate development and management company that owns the Boise Plaza and is developing the 11th & Idaho project), believes that Boise's office product is well-positioned for the future as it becomes a viable location for companies looking to open an office in Idaho or relocate operations. "The only thing stopping companies from moving to Boise is their ability to hire good people,” he said. “That’s why companies have stayed in the Bay Area of San Francisco, because there’s such a bigger pool of employees to choose from. What we’re seeing now is that companies that are talking about moving to Boise or Reno or Colorado Springs have more employees that are volunteering to move with them."
The remote work environment will have a place in the lives of employees in the future, but the office's central role as a hub of productivity, connectivity and collaboration will remain a valuable tool for companies across Idaho.