The New Office Must Have? Stairs!

The New Not Normal

Covid-19 has changed virtually every aspect of modern life.  As we start to get back to normal here in Toronto, just what will normal look like?



Phase 2 Reopening

The City of Toronto has just announced that Toronto will be joining most of the rest of Ontario in moving to Phase 2.  This covers many parts of our daily life and the City of Toronto has extensive guidelines.

Employers will also be responsible for establishing procedures to keep their staff and clients safe.

Safety First

At the most basic level, we will see more of what we are already used to.  Frequent hand washing, hand sterilizing stations and social distancing.  Many employers are also encouraging their employees to wear masks.  In offices with shared work spaces, employees are being given dedicated desks, separation screens are being erected to give extra protection and some desks are being left empty to help with social distancing.

Employers are also staggering employees days and start times to try and reduce the number of people in the office at any one time.  For most people, home working has been a way of life since the pandemic started. It’s likely that many businesses will continue to allow at least some degree of home working both as a perk to employees and as a way to reduce their real estate costs.

The Bottleneck

While the measures above can make the office environment safer, there is one problem that employers and building managers anticipate will be a major issue – elevators.  With social distancing requirements, typically only 2-4 people will be allowed in an elevator.  That’s a fraction of the normal capacity and could lead to lineups of half an hour or more in the high rise buildings that typify Toronto’s downtown core.

Building managers are looking at high tech solutions to this problem including apps that will allow people to book and call elevators.  This will probably take some time though and is unlikely to fix the basic problem of too many people and too little elevator capacity at peak times.  The short term solution for companies looking for office space now may be more simple.  A low rise building with stairs.

Take the Stairs

The stairs have always been the healthy option.  Now they might be both the healthiest and most convenient.  Stairs are always available and make social distancing much easier.  Of course, you probably don’t want to be taking the stairs to the 45th floor so you may have to venture outside of the downtown core to find low rise office space.

Smaller offices can be found above retail on most major streets in the city.  Converted warehouses in the east of the city or in Liberty Village offer more dedicated space.  Vacancy rates in Liberty Village have hovered around 1% in recent years so space has been hard to come by.  We don’t expect to see a glut of new inventory, but it’s likely that there will be more availability than in recent years.  If you are looking for a low rise office space, you can check out our listings here or contact us for more information.



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