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The hybrid model should be the office trend post-COVID

The slow pace of Covid-19 vaccination among the Brazilian population has prolonged doubts about the future of commercial office spaces and life in large cities. However, some companies’ experts and initiatives show that the hybrid model, working in the office and at home in a relay system, is a trend that is gaining more and more strength. According to urban planners, the moment offers city officials the chance to review master plans and other mechanisms capable of reorienting the occupation of workplaces and housing.

The commercial real estate market is diffused in São Paulo, the largest economic centre in the country. In many offices, empty tables and chairs and disconnected computers bear witness to an interrupted history, which can be resumed at any time. Although on a much smaller scale, there are also companies with face-to-face work, at least in some areas. Moreover, some improvise, as far as possible, the relay between home and office.

Since last year, tenants with less capital or who have activities strongly affected by the effects of COVID, such as tourism and professionals, have returned spaces as they realised the pandemic did not subside. Near Avenida Paulista and the Center, entire buildings are unoccupied.

In companies that occupy high standard offices, the majority are on hold, hoping that the vaccination will progress. In multinationals, stricter guidelines from the headquarters recommend caution and work at home, for now.

For Giancarlo Nicastro, president of the research firm SiiLA Brasil (Latin American Real Estate Information System), the proportion of days worked from home will depend on each sector. Those who need more interaction, according to him, move towards a one, two days “work-at-home” model. Increasing the meeting and social areas and reducing the number of individual rooms are seen as a trend. Nicastro points out the challenge of labour issues, “which are not yet clear” with the “work-at-home”. Employee benefits also tend to change.

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