The COVID-19 pandemic and office space demand dynamics

    Olayiwola Oladiran   Affiliation
    ; Paul Hallam   Affiliation
    ; Lee Elliott Affiliation


The COVID-19 pandemic led to the mass adoption of remote working and other office market dynamics. As firms continue to adapt to the changes caused by the pandemic through various work patterns, the potential implications for the office market are unclear. Using data from Knight Frank’s (Y)OUR SPACE (2021) survey, this paper employs probit and multinomial models to examine the relationship between COVID-19 related remote working and changes to firms’ office space strategies. The study confirms that the pandemic has significantly influenced firms’ medium-term office space use strategies, and the results show that firms’ perception of their employees’ work-from-home experience has influenced their strategy review. The results specifically show that a positive WFH experience increases the likelihood that firms will reduce their total space quantity, reduce their density of occupation, and negotiate shorter leases in the medium term. We further observe that the pandemic is likely to have weaker effects on space quality than on space quantity, implying that economic factors remain core priorities in future office space use strategies, while social and environmental factors may remain secondary. These insights extend the literature beyond the economic determinants of office space demand to other social factors.

Keyword : office, COVID-19, remote working, work from home (WFH), workspace, corporate real estate, ergonomics

How to Cite
Oladiran, O., Hallam, P., & Elliott, L. (2023). The COVID-19 pandemic and office space demand dynamics. International Journal of Strategic Property Management, 27(1), 35–49.
Published in Issue
Mar 7, 2023
Abstract Views
PDF Downloads
SM Downloads
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Antipova, T. (2021). Coronavirus pandemic as Black Swan event. In T. Antipova (Ed.), Lecture notes in networks and systems: Vol. 136. Integrated science in digital age 2020 (pp. 356–366). Springer.

Aven, T. (2013). On the meaning of a Black Swan in a risk context. Safety Science, 57, 44–51.

Avison Young. (2021). Making it work.

Bekiros, S., Boubaker, S., Nguyen, D. K., & Uddin, G. S. (2017). Black Swan events and safe havens: the role of gold in globally integrated emerging markets. Journal of International Money and Finance, 73, 317–334.

CBI. (2020, November). No turning back.

CBRE. (2021, November). Environmental and social sustainability goals in UK real estate.

Cluttons. (2021, May). Return to the office.

Colwell, P. F., Munneke, H. J., & Trefzger, J. W. (1998). Chicago’s office market: price indices, location and time. Real Estate Economics, 26(1), 83–106.

Da Silva, F. A. B., Liu, N., & Hutchison, N. (2022). Flexible workspace providers as tenants: an analysis of the rental prices in the London market. Journal of Property Investment & Finance, 40(5), 448–464.

Guy, S., & Harris, R. (1997). Property in a global-risk society: towards marketing research in the office sector. Urban Studies, 34(1), 125–140.

Hendershott, P. H., Lizieri, C. M., & Matysiak, G. A. (1999). The workings of the London office market. Real Estate Economics, 27(2), 365–387.

Hendershott, P. H., Lizieri, C. M., & MacGregor, B. D. (2010). Asymmetric adjustment in the city of London office market. The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 41(1), 80–101.

Hess, A. (2019). People who work from home earn more than those who commute—here’s why. Cnbc.

Higgins, D. (2015). Defining the three Rs of commercial property market performance: return, risk and ruin. Journal of Property Investment and Finance, 33(6), 481–493.

Higgins, D. M. (2013). The Black Swan effect and the impact on Australian property forecasting. Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction, 18(1), 76–89.

Higgins, D. M. (2014). Fires, floods and financial meltdowns: Black Swan events and property asset management. Property Management, 32(3), 241–255.

Jones Lang LaSalle. (2019). How technology is fuelling the rise of flexible office space.

Kalyan, S., Learner, H., & Moreira, R. (2020, July). The future of office in the COVID-19 era.

Knight Frank. (2021). (Y)OUR SPACE survey 2021 (2nd ed.). Knight Frank Intelligence Lab Global Property Market Insight.

KPMG. (2021, March 23). Nearly half of global CEOs don’t expect to see a return to ‘normal’ until 2022.

Krupa, J., & Jones, C. (2013). Black Swan theory: applications to energy market histories and technologies. Energy Strategy Reviews, 1(4), 286–290.

Miller, N. G. (2013). Downsizing and workplace trends in the office market. Feature – Real Estate Issues, 38(3), 28–36.

Miller, N. G. (2014). Workplace trends in office space: implications for future office demand. Journal of Corporate Real Estate, 16(3), 159–181.

Nafday, A. M. (2011). Consequence-based structural design approach for Black Swan events. Structural Safety, 33(1), 108–114.

Office for National Statistics. (2020a). Coronavirus and homeworking in the UK: April 2020. Homeworking patterns in the uk, broken down by sex, age, region and ethnicity.

Office for National Statistics. (2020b, July 21). Which jobs can be done from home?

Rabianski, J. S., & Gibler, K. M. (2007). Office market demand analysis and estimation techniques: a literature review, synthesis and commentary. Journal of Real Estate Literature, 15(1), 37–56.

Runde, J. (2009). Dissecting the Black Swan. Critical Review, 21(4), 491–505.

Saiz, A. (2020). Bricks, mortar, and proptech: the economics of IT in brokerage, space utilization and commercial real estate finance. Journal of Property Investment and Finance, 38(4), 327–347.

Scarrett, D., & Wilcox, J. (2018). Property asset management. Routledge.

Tsolacos, S., Keogh, G., & McGough, T. (1998). Modelling use, investment, and development in the British office market. Environment and Planning A, 30(8), 1409–1427.

Wheaton, W. C., Torto, R. G., & Evans, P. (1997). The cyclic behavior of the Greater London office market. The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 15(1), 77–92.