Dec 8, 2021 - Business

D.C. employers are leasing office space again

Pattern of office chairs with a single image of the coronavirus virus breaking up the pattern.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Demand for office space is up and surpassing pre-pandemic levels in the D.C. area, according to CBRE.

Why it matters: Empty office buildings resulting from employees working from home is one of the driving forces behind empty downtowns both in the DMV and around the country. 

  • A return to in-person work could provide a major boost to downtown businesses with customer bases primarily made up of office workers.

By the numbers: The D.C. metro area's new office leasing activity is 2% above its pre-pandemic baseline according to CBRE data.

  • The District is ranked fourth in leasing activity out of the top twelve U.S. markets.

Yes, but: While leasing activity in the region has been slowly increasing over the last six months, the winter season is expected to bring another slowdown.

“It’s probably not going to last as we enter winter and depending on where this virus goes,” Ian Anderson, CBRE senior director of Research & Analysis tells Axios of the current office leasing trends. 

What they say: It’s hard to make predictions with the constant changes the pandemic creates, but Anderson says it’s likely that flexibility in the workplace with options to work from home and in-person continue beyond the COVID pandemic.

  • “The office market is likely never going to go back to what it was,” he says.

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