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Is your office rebound-ready?

Maricris Sarino-Joson

By Maricris Sarino-Joson
Director and Head, Office Services –
Landlord Representation, Colliers

ADOPTING GREEN and sustainable features plays a crucial role in future-proofing office towers after the pandemic. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation has accelerated the adoption of sustainable office spaces and we see this trend complementing the recovery of office leasing demand across Metro Manila after 2021.

As part of occupier retention as well as attraction strategies, Colliers believes that existing landlords and developers should focus not only on wellness attributes, but also on green retrofitting activities. Occupiers that are mandated to follow green initiatives should constantly be on the lookout for upcoming wellness-certified office towers likely to be completed across the Philippines in the next 12 to 36 months.

Colliers data shows that in Metro Manila, about 37% of the new supply from 2021 to 2023 will likely be wellness-certified buildings. For locators and tenants, there are many benefits to locating in green buildings, including an average of 35% lower carbon emissions, 40% lower water use, 50% lower energy use, and 70% reduction in solid waste.

Colliers believes that landlords should maximize wellness features of their buildings and prioritize wellness certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and WELL building standards.

LEED buildings will likely account for 37% of new office supply from 2021 to 2023. Landlords should also be more discerning with design considerations that promote sustainability and wellness (e.g., filtered air circulation, lower density ratios, and high glass ratios for natural sunlight) and strengthen property management capabilities including sanitation (e.g., implementation of measures to avoid disease transmission) and emergency preparedness.

As developers ramped up construction of office towers across Metro Manila in 2021, product differentiation plays a crucial role in ensuring that buildings are appropriate to the needs of the tenants given the increasing options in the market. Colliers believes that today’s labor force is also more discerning in choosing which companies to work in and the type of workspace is critical in attracting and retaining the best talent.

Many companies are also preparing for the eventual return of workers to the office as COVID-19 cases have been decreasing over the last few weeks especially in Metro Manila. The capital region is now on Alert Level 2, which eliminates age-based mobility restriction and allows for increased capacity for businesses and activities such as restaurant dine-in, beauty salons and other personal care establishments, and religious activities.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that from 2010 to 2019, Filipinos’ spending on health-related expenditures grew by an average of 7.9% per annum, faster than the growth of other consumer spending subsectors such as hotels and restaurants (7.6%), food and beverage (5.4%), communication (5.0%), and clothing and footwear (1.8%). This indicates that health and wellness are among Filipinos’ major priorities. We see both employers and employees putting a greater emphasis on health post-pandemic. Landlords and tenants are likely to implement health and wellness initiatives to retain occupants and employees.

Going green is no longer aspirational. Requiring office spaces to be environmentally certified is necessary in the return to the work place: ensuring offices are healthy, safe, sustainable, and productive in a post-pandemic environment.

Maricris Sarino-Joson has been a real estate professional since 1998. She joined Colliers in 2012, first as Director for Client Services with the company’s Tenant Representation team, providing strategies and solutions to Colliers’ clients. She was recently appointed as Director and Head of Office Services – Landlord Representation, working closely with office developers and landlords and providing them with sound and expert advice on how to effectively market their developments.

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