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At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of workers stayed home, rendering physical office spaces useless, at least temporarily. Now that employees are returning to in-person work, what does the current commercial real estate market look like? And what does the future of office spaces look like?

Enzo Cannata, real estate manager for Cannata Companies in Beachwood, said people are starting to come back into physical offices.

Cannata said there was much uncertainty from tenants about how to handle going into the office. He said some accommodations had to be made.

He would check on spaces that people weren’t going into everyday. Cannata said he would do this almost weekly just to make sure nothing was going wrong since no one was inside.

Cannata said from the peak of the pandemic last year until probably until a few months ago, a lot was stuck in place, as people weren’t sure what the future was going to hold and they were just maintaining the status quo.

Some tenants, he said, just by the nature of their business, had to be in the office.

“There’s definitely people I know that prefer working from home,” Cannata said. “But I think a lot of people also realize the benefits of at least some in-person activity and interaction for certain businesses, overall. It was a big evaluation and sort of just a holding pattern of seeing what the future was going to hold.”

Cannata said he has seen some activity in the last month or two, with employers and workers starting to look forward to their next move. They see the light at the end of the tunnel and are starting to make proactive decisions regarding their space. He added he thinks there’s always going to be a need for office space.

“There are certain businesses that require a physical location to do the work,” Cannata said. “So, I think it’s never going to go away. I think it’s going to change maybe a little bit in terms of schedules, such as implementing hybrid work schedules. It’ll change, but I think it’ll still be a necessary part of a lot of businesses.”

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