AUSTIN, Texas — Working from home has become the new normal for many of us, but the Downtown Austin Alliance is seeing employees starting to slowly trickle back into the office.
"So about 30% of the workers seem to be coming in and out of their offices on some schedule but, in terms of just vacancy rate or, you know, the leasing activity, we are definitely seeing a lot of office space be put up for sublease," said Downtown Austin Alliance Vice President Michele Van Hyfe.
Hyfe told KVUE leasing activity downtown is a quarter of what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the low office occupancy, Hyfe said she is optimistic that the office space market downtown will be restored to pre-pandemic occupancy once a vaccine is distributed.
Hyfe said at the same time, how the office is used could look different as more employers consider hybrid office models permanently, splitting working remotely and in the office.
"I do think in the future, you're going to see this mix of things where some companies are going to go 50% remote, some will go 20%, some will go 80%," said WeWork Global Head of Marketing Pradhdeep Singh.
Singh told KVUE that after seeing the impact of COVID-19 on the office market, their team at WeWork – a company that provides shared workspaces – launched a new service called WeWork On Demand. Using the WeWork app, you can instantly book office space by the hour.
"We saw a lot of mothers actually who needed to get out of the house," said Singh. "Some even brought their kids to WeWork. We saw teachers who needed a space to do their virtual classes that was more professional. So it was just all of these unique and interesting use cases that came."
WeWork has seven locations in the Austin area. Booking a desk for a day is $29 and a conference room $10 per hour.
Singh said there are staff members disinfecting offices throughout the day.
"We have a community team inside every building that's just helping enforce or they're walking around making sure people have masks on, making sure people are spread apart and so on," said Singh.
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