By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – With case counts decreasing, vaccinations continuing to rise, and mask orders going away, the return to the office is imminent for thousands of workers in Colorado. Commercial real estate firms say they’re seeing companies contact them to discuss what the return for much of the workforce will look like.

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“What most companies said was, ‘What is our need going to be when things return to the new normal? But we do need to be together.’ And companies are finding that importance,” said Peter Schippits, President of the Mountain-Northwest Division of CBRE.

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The return could look different for many workers, with hybrid or flexible time in the office. CBRE has run studies that say, on average, most employees will return to the office one day less than they did before the pandemic.

(credit: CBS)

“Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday offices are going to be pretty much full like they were before and that’s going to reduce the ability for companies to reduce their overall footprint because people are going to want to be there together,” Shippits said. “What we’re finding is no matter what, when people do come into the office, they want to be with their teams when they are there.”

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With the whole workforce unlikely to be in the office five days a week, personalized cubicles are losing popularity. Companies are looking at potential new layouts, doing away with constant cubicles and offering a diverse setting from individual office spaces, to huddle rooms, and open spaces for casual meetings.

“You will need more space for things like social distancing, there are going to be some permanent changes to that. What hasn’t gone away is cleanliness, HVAC systems, things that people will have on their mind knowing this won’t be the only time a health scare will occur,” Shippits said.

So far, Shippits says he’s hearing companies with lots of space downtown are expecting a return later in the summer. But already, office space occupancy in Denver’s suburbs is increasing.

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“It’s natural, I think, to see that downtown has been lagging. But in the last couple of weeks, you’ve seen the numbers downtown go up pretty dramatically,” Shippits said.

Jeff Todd