The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way a lot of people work. For the past 18 months, many employees have been doing their jobs remotely as companies keep pushing back their reopening plans due to delta variant concerns.
But even once things calm down with regard to the outbreak, we're likely to see a return to the workplace that doesn't quite mimic the setups that were in place before. These days, a lot of companies are planning to bring workers back on a hybrid basis, where they report to an office for part of the week and finish the workweek from home. Accommodating this model could require some physical adjustments to today's offices, and that's why news of a new partnership is coming at just the right time.
A focus on flexibility
Co-working giant WeWork and Cushman & Wakefield PLC (NYSE: CWK), one of the world’s largest commercial real estate companies, are negotiating to form a $150 million partnership. The goal of the partnership would be to combine knowledge and resources to help employers and employees adapt to a post-pandemic workplace.
In the coming months, many companies will no doubt seek to bring workers back to office buildings on a partial basis. The goal there may be to offer workers added flexibility but also to limit capacity at a time when the pandemic might still be going strong.
Along these lines, a lot of employers are making plans to let workers do their jobs remotely in some capacity on a longer-term basis. And those employees, like hybrid workers, may benefit tremendously from having access to office space outside of their homes.
By teaming up, WeWork and Cushman & Wakefield can address that need. WeWork has already proven its ability to dominate the co-working space. Cushman & Wakefield, meanwhile, has a host of property management experience under its belt and can use its expertise to help WeWork execute on new ideas that come down the pike.
In fact, Cushman & Wakefield may actually end up being the greater beneficiary in the deal. Even though WeWork was forced to close down many of its locations during the pandemic, it still operates a large number of spaces. And it knows how to appeal to clients and introduce amenities that support today's flexible workers.
It's clear that the need for flexible workspaces will explode, most likely within the coming year, if not the coming quarter or two. Cushman & Wakefield can now build on WeWork's existing platform rather than have to reinvent the wheel.
The investor takeaway
Given the way workplaces are already evolving and are likely to continue doing so, now's a good time for real estate investors to consider dabbling in the co-working space. While some large firms may be insistent on returning to pre-pandemic office setups where workers report to a building five days a week, there's bound to be a tremendous shift toward flexible workspaces in the near term. Investors who get in on that opportunity at the right time could end up reaping a world of financial reward.