Commentary Studies & Guides

NAREIM Survey: Return-to-Office Plan for 2022

NAREIM Survey: Return-to-Office Plan for 2022
Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash

Real estate investment managers overwhelmingly expect staffs to be back in the office early in 2022, according to a survey by an industry trade group.

The study by the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM) found that almost half of the managers surveyed (47%) already have mandates that have returned most employees back to the office, while the same number of managers (47%) say that they will push for staff to return to the office after New Year’s Day.

Just under half (49%) of management firms require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The rest didn’t require vaccines, but 14% were asking for proof of vaccination or routine testing to enter the office.

“As the industry—and world—begins to return more fully to travel, offices and not working remotely full time, we are faced with myriad human capital opportunities and challenges,” said Zoe Hughes, chief executive of NAREIM. “Virtual is amazing, but it’s not in-person. We are human beings who crave social interaction, face-to-face. And as we start returning more fully—whether to work or meetings or travel—there is a balance to be achieved.”

The survey polled several other workplace hot-button issues:

  • On flex work, one-third of managers expect a 3-2 strategy (three days in the office, two days at home) over the long term, while one-quarter said the long-term policy was expected to be a full, five-days-a-week return to the office.
  • Companies see a challenge in onboarding new workers, particularly junior talent, while remote. Some plan to require a month of in-office training for new associates and analysts.
  • Companies will increasingly focus on wellness as a retention tool. That involves training managers and “fireside chats” to help spread skills focusing on employee physical, emotional, financial and social well-being.
  • More than three-quarters (76%) of the NAREIM members surveyed expect headcount to increase in 2021, a testament to the industry’s strong growth and rising assets under management. Last year, 42% of firms experienced flat or declining headcount.

Hughes noted that three days in the office, two days at home is likely going to be the longer-term flex schedule for many real estate investment management firms, not least in 2022.

“That schedule is transformative for so many people, particularly those with young and school-age children and those caring for family members,” she said. “But for some it’s also a challenge—including new, junior talent, who thrive and learn when surrounded by their more experienced colleagues. Unfortunately, there is no right answer to this. No one solution. It’s a simple case of trial and error and finding the best compromises for your employees. The key through it all, though, as was discussed at NAREIM’s Talent Management meeting, is to communicate and engage.”



About the author

Paul Fiorilla

Paul Fiorilla has more than 25 years of experience as a researcher and writer in the commercial real estate markets. He previously served as a vice president of research at Prudential Real Estate Investors in Madison, N.J., where he oversaw publishing of outlooks and thought leadership research. Before that, he covered real estate capital markets and CMBS at Commercial Mortgage Alert.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment