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Report: Prepping for the 'new normal'

Al Urbanski
Avison Young CEO Mark Rose
Avison Young CEO Mark Rose

A new report on what to expect from a post-COVID-19 “new normal” suggests that it could be more normal than new.

In “Evaluating the New Normal for Commercial Real Estate,” Avison-Young examined post-9/11 developments to help presage what new social order could we could be facing after the pandemic.

“It was…suggested that companies would be reluctant to occupy upper floors, tower offices or iconic buildings and that people would be reluctant to get back on planes,” said the report. “But in most cases the combination of prudent measures to prevent repeat attacks with recognition that the true level of risk was low was sufficient to address most people’s concerns. The world has never been the same since 9/11 – but the ‘new’ normal is not radically different from the old.”

Avison Young suggested that the world is the product of some powerful forces not likely to be overturned.  Working remotely at home is not a long-term option for the majority of workers, for one thing, so travel to work is more likely to return to pre-pandemic routine than travel for work.

“Business travel has come to a virtual standstill in recent weeks, and the financial strain on corporate balance sheets from the economic slowdown means it is likely to remain constrained for a time even after government restrictions are lifted,” the report stated.

Avison Young saw little chance that a “suburbanization” of economic activity would keep people away from crowded cities.

“If people are indeed going to reject crowded city centers as places they want to work, presumably they will also stop visiting successful shopping centers, drinking in popular bars, or attending theatres or sporting events,” said the report. “Once a vaccine is developed and widely available, it seems unlikely that such behavior would persist.”

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