News release

Offices will face a ‘new normal’ in future amid COVID-19

Companies to focus on design and decentralisation as they prepare for re-entry

June 01, 2020

As organisations prepare to return to the office amid an easing of lockdown restrictions across Asia Pacific, many are considering how their corporate real estate portfolios should look in the ‘next normal’. According to a survey by JLL, more than 80% of its clients have started to explore alternatives to keep their business operational or carry out certain modifications to their offices.

The real estate firm’s latest ‘Guide for Workplace Design Considerations’ outlines some short- to long-term priorities, including space planning solutions, tech-enabled experiences and operational functions that help corporates navigate the complex re-entry journey. The guide also highlights how companies can re-assess their office footprint with decentralization scenarios or re-designs that can protect their businesses and people in the long run. 

“Office re-entry will be a gradual and multi-phased journey that is likely to evolve as economies open up again,” says Martin Hinge, Executive Managing Director, Project & Development Services, JLL Asia Pacific. “As people head back to the office, our clients’ number one priority is to ensure that they’re welcoming people back to a safe and healthy environment.”

This includes setting up private, enclosed workstations, fitting social and break-out spaces with labels or physical dividers, or even installing thermal imaging technology in the building lobby and reception areas. 

Darren Wee, Executive Director, Head of Projects & Development Services, JLL Singapore says, “In Singapore, we are starting to see more demand for office redesign in an agile yet safe manner, to achieve a balance between space optimization and occupant wellbeing at a manageable cost, as companies prepare for re-entry following the gradual easing of circuit breaker restrictions.”

“In the short-term, organisations will need to find ways to deliver quick adaptations to the workplace, ensuring safety and comfort for employees. However, in the long term, business leaders will face decisions about their workspace usage against a backdrop where social distancing may be required for a protracted period,” says Gonzalo Portellano, Head of Portfolio Design, JLL Asia Pacific. 

Over the long term, organisations may have to decide how to plan and optimise their office footprint in a cost-effective manner, according to the guide. It points out that decentralized working hubs may soon be on rise, as these enable remote working from different locations, reducing commute times and increasing convenience for employees. 

Portellano adds: “Companies may start shifting their offices from prime locations into smaller, more versatile hubs distributed across the city. These tech-enabled hubs can be located in areas supported by good infrastructure, public transport connectivity and that offer lower rents.”

“Looking ahead, we anticipate that organisations will take a bold step in office transformation, be it with decentralization or spacing designs. The evolution of the office will no longer be about how people occupy spaces but how people use and interact with spaces.”

“We foresee higher adoption of proptech solutions in Singapore’s workplaces to provide data and analytical insights on how employees are interacting with the office environment to better support their workspace planning and employee engagement strategies,” adds Wee.

To learn more about JLL’s ‘Guide for Workplace Design Considerations’, please click here

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $18.0 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 94,000 as of March 31, 2020. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit