Covid-19: “The role of the office is upgraded”, according to Virginie Houzé, real estate specialist

Virginie Houzé, director of research at JLL, guest of franceinfo, Friday January 8, 2021 (FRANCEINFO)

The fall is spectacular. The office real estate market has plummeted, under the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and teleworking. In the Paris region, last year, the quantity of rented offices fell by 45%, according to the Immostat barometer.

Eco guest of franceinfo on Friday January 8, Virginie Houzé, director of research at JLL, said “already experienced sharp declines”, citing the 2008-2009 financial crisis, but “this drop takes us back to the mid-1990s, in terms of the number of square meters consumed”.

Where have the employees gone? AT the House!”, answers Virginie Houzé. “The office market is extremely in tune with economic activity. It first suffered the shutdown of activity in the spring (…) Now companies are waiting to see how the health crisis will develop, and what are the economic consequences, before embarking on real estate projects “, she explains.

But isn’t this the start of a new era? Won’t the offices disappear? “2020 was a year of acceleration of trends or the emergence of new trends”, answers Virginie Houzé, who gives the example of teleworking: “He aroused a lot of reluctance in France, but this reluctance was well swept aside.” The specialist immediately adds: “Teleworking doesn’t solve everything. Three out of four employees ask to come back to the office, either on an ad hoc basis (…) or completely. “

After the epidemic, “companies will continue to offer offices to their employees”, believes Virginie Houzé, for whom “the role of the office is even upgraded”. But “we will see the offices again”, places of “collaboration“. The expert is betting in particular on the continued development of coworking, which allows companies “to take and return easily” workspaces. “This is one more string in the bow of companies in the real estate market”, she explains.

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