By Sam DeBaltzo
As I alluded to in my previous post, with Oregon’s mask mandate lifting, downtown employers have initiated a greater push for returning to the office, Tonkon Torp included. Tonkon and other large law firms in Portland have opted for a hybrid model of two-four days in the office with varying levels of encouragement vs. requirement. Large corporate employers like Nike, Columbia, and Google are going with similar methods and I expect others to follow suit. This demonstrates, at least initially, a recognition from many employers that a gradual approach to greater in-office presence is the preferred method of re-entry. The pandemic has truly demonstrated the potential for a substantial and sustainable hybrid workforce for years to come.
The question then arises as to the impact of hybrid work on the Portland commercial real estate market. Many large businesses have retained their downtown office space throughout the pandemic, and their employees will return to the same offices they left. However, some shops have already called it quits on downtown and moved to the suburbs for smaller offices that are closer to their employees’ homes. After all, you would be hard pressed to find someone that misses their commute to the office after two years off and gas prices on the rise.
All this being said, I remain optimistic on the future of Portland’s commercial real estate. Despite the current increase in office vacancies, industrial and mixed-use spaces remain attractive investment options. Additionally, I’m confident that companies will adapt to the hybrid setting and take appropriate steps to find the office space that best suits them. This is pure speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if companies consider investigating additional perks to add to their offices. No one is going to replicate Nike’s acclaimed campus, but taking a stab at it on a smaller scale may just be one of the changes the return to offices brings in the long term. Here’s to hoping for a Tonkon Torp indoor basketball court!