The office property sector continues to exhibit resiliency amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colliers International Philippines said a recovery is likely in 2021, during which office space rents are expected to pick up pace. Over the next 12 months, Colliers expects occupants providing essential services leading office absorption while some outsourcing firms might opt for plug-and-play offices for their immediate space requirements.
“With a general slowdown in leasing activity all over Metro Manila following reduced space demand from Pogo (Philippine offshore gaming operators), outsourcing and traditional firms, coupled with willingness among landlords to drop rents, Colliers retains its forecast of a 17 percent correction in lease rates in 2020. This is likely to be more apparent starting the fourth quarter of 2020. We see further correction in submarkets where there is a large upcoming supply. The vacant space is likely to be offered to non Pogo tenants at a 20 to 30 percent discount,” Colliers said in its latest report.
“However, an upside is that the central bank is projecting some form of economic recovery starting in the fourth quarter of 2020. This should also be supported by the expansion of outsourcing firms to comply with the government’s social distancing protocols. This should support growth in office leasing in the next six to 18 months and should result in a 2 percent growth in rents starting 2021,” it further reported.
8 Rockwell in Makati City
Safety in the workplace
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reshaped office spaces today given the shift in the priorities and preferences of both developers and tenants.
Whether in terms of design, density, security measures or even technology, this health crisis has no doubt accelerated the adoption of critical changes that will enable businesses to comply with the new protocols such as thermal scanning and social distancing. There is a higher standard now in ensuring that office spaces are not only conducive for work and collaboration, but are also capable of securing the safety and well-being of the occupants.
“In the office of the future, technology will play a central role in enabling employees to return to office buildings and to work safely… Organizations will need to manage which employees can come to the office, when they can enter and take their places, how often the office is cleaned, whether the airflow is sufficient, and if they are remaining sufficiently far apart as they move through the space,” noted an article from McKinsey & Company.
Offices in the new normal
Fortunately, some Philippine companies have already made significant headway in creating the new workplace in the new normal.
Rockwell Land, for example, has long initiated and rolled out new measures, even adopting the latest technologies in its office towers to comply with the new health protocols. Premium grade office spaces in 8 Rockwell in Makati, The Rockwell Business Center-Ortigas in Pasig, Santolan Town Plaza in San Juan, and The Rockwell Business Center-Sheridan in Mandaluyong all ensure that tenants and employees can function safely and efficiently.
One of the latest and most notable innovations being rolled out in Rockwell Workspaces is the installation of upgraded airconditioning panels which will ensure better and safer air quality inside the towers. This is crucial as the layout and design of a building, as well as the occupancy and type of heating, ventilation and airconditioning (HVAC) system are said to have an impact on the potential airborne spread of the virus.
By October, Rockwell Workspaces will be the first in the Philippines to have this new airconditioning system that utilizes a “Wind-Free” technology, which ensures almost no airflow, with a speed of less than 0.15 m/s. This “still air” allows occupants to stay safe even with just a 2-meter distance from one another. The Samsung Wind-Free 4Way cassette also has a purifying panel comprised of three types of filters (Pre-Filter, Deodorization Filter, and PM1.0 Filter) that can make the air fresh and clean. The improved airconditioning system, in particular, does not only capture ultra fine dust, but more importantly sterilizes virus and bacteria.
In line with the new health mandates, all employees and guests are required to use face masks and face shields at all times inside the office towers. Upon entry, a device will read their temperatures, detect if they’re wearing face masks and scan their faces for contact tracing purposes. They also need to step on the foot bath for disinfection. Guests are likewise required to accomplish a health declaration form.
To ensure continuous disinfection and sanitation within the office towers, alcohol and sanitizers are available before entering the building, elevators and lobbies while the so-called “high-touch” areas and surfaces are frequently cleaned. Rockwell also installed an automatic disinfectant inside the elevators; UV light inside the airconditioning units of the elevators and additional UV in the fresh air handling units. UV treatment is done within the common areas after office hours.
One cannot thus underscore enough the significance of implementing such innovations and protocols in this era of the new normal, when health and safety have become everyone’s paramount concerns. In having all these measures in place, employees, tenants and guests will all be assured that the office towers they’re in are fit for occupancy.
Rockwell Land, which has long been known for providing a lifestyle beyond ordinary, has clearly brought this same distinction to its office towers, ensuring that its buildings will always remain safe, healthy and conducive for work amid and beyond this pandemic.
For more information on Rockwell Land’s offices, email [email protected].