As businesses across the world shift to flexible work schemes, how will the Thai office market cope?

CBRE Thailand predicts “space optimisation [to] take centre stage in the years to come” 

By 2020, the primary considerations revolved around risk mitigation and cost containment. Kayo/Shutterstock

In just a year, the pandemic has drastically changed how businesses operate all over the globe, forcing the office market to reevaluate its strategies and develop more lucrative solutions. 

Though the long-term impact is still unknown, leading international property consultant CBRE Thailand revealed that companies will have to redefine how office spaces function, with primary focus on flexibility, community culture, and collaboration. Above all, they predict that “space optimisation will take centre stage in the years to come.” 

Charnwit Pasuwat, the head of design development at CBRE Thailand, said the office market has visibly transformed over the past five years as businesses’ approach to workspaces have become more complicated.  

Research conducted by the consulting firm revealed that enquiries received before 2015 mostly centred around office expansion within a provided budget. The trend started to change between 2015 and 2019 as clients’ concern over the “cost-effectiveness” of the workplace grew, with 53 percent evaluating how they can grow their business and employee headcount in their current office without the need for expansion. 

By 2020, the primary considerations revolved around risk mitigation and cost containment. CBRE forecasts that across Asia Pacific, “the trend will shift to some form of remote working” come 2025. 

Last year, the office market was challenged by the pandemic, as it led to the biggest remote working shift the world has seen. With the dwindling number of infections across Thailand and the promise of a vaccine in the coming months, most businesses have returned to normal workflow and have yet to renounce the office space concept.  

Kasemsubsiri Co., Ltd.’s THE PARQ and AIA Company Limited’s AIA East Gateway office developments – which nabbed trophies at the 15th PropertyGuru Thailand Property Awards 2020 – were among the officdevelopments that were able to recover amid the pandemic. 

Nevertheless, CBRE believes that establishing the right workplace strategy can help drive workspace efficiency.  

“The Bangkok office market in the economic weather of 2020 witnessed up to 30 percent of space consolidation or contraction from businesses, such as advertising, medical, automobile, and legal,” said the head of advisory and transaction services – office at CBRE Thailand Roongrat Veeraparkkaroon. 

“On the contrary, e-commerce and logistics businesses expanded their space up to 100 percent and up to 200 percent for technology platform companies, as a result of last year’s rapid online growth.” 

For most of last year, businesses have re-examined their workplace plans and considered whether they should relocate or renew. 

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“Now, organisations are re-evaluating their business priorities with more realistic expectations to transform their office space effectively. This depends largely on the organisation’s nature of work and space utilisation,” explained Charnwit. 

CBRE expects workplaces to shift from traditional to a more flexible, collaborative space that can accommodate the organisational, as well as social needs of the hybrid workforce, enabling businesses to maximise the use of their office space. 

“The renewed focus in 2021 lies in improving the quality of workplace experience, along with building flexibility to the existing office space. There may be further office trend evolution this year, in addition to space optimisation as organisations continue to determine the most appropriate way forward,” he concluded.  

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