Toronto is drastically cutting office space as remote work could become permanent
Whether you love it or hate, COVID-19 has brought on a new reality for many people. This includes working from home and effectively reducing office space.
Last week, the City of Toronto released an update to their ModernTO plan which includes an intiative called the Workplace Modernization Program, focused on the City's office portfolio. According to the City, ModernTO is supposed optimize their real estate assets while modernizing office space and saving money.
#CityofTO's ModernTO plan optimizes the City's real estate assets to unlock cost savings & city-building opportunities. Details in this news release: https://t.co/AKQzI116cY pic.twitter.com/0huNw4dIyH— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) September 18, 2019
However, as the pandemic significantly impacts the way everyone works, the City was forced to update the program to fit the requirements of a post-COVID-19 workplace.
To do this, the City surveyed staff, and found that 95 per cent of those involved in the survey would like to continue working from home for at least part of the week after the pandemic. Only five per cent said that they would anticipate coming in to the office five days per week.
As a result, the City said that they will be reducing the amount of desks in their future office plans.
"The Workplace Modernization Plan increased the average mobility ratio from a 1.3 staff per workstation to a 1.7 staff per workstation mobility ratio, meaning there will be 10 desks for every 17 employees, on average," the plan states.
95% of city staff surveyed in July said they’d like to keep working from home at least part of the week, after the pandemic. Only 5% anticipate returning to the office five days a week. City is reducing amount of desks in future office plans. https://t.co/MC41faQ7g1 (PDF) pic.twitter.com/bEFjwnKDLr— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) November 10, 2020
"This change was based on evidence of successful remote working during the pandemic, which resulted in increased leadership support and strengthened willingness to consider remote working as an ongoing option post-pandemic combined with in-office work."
ModernTO and the Workplace Modernization Program also includes a Master Office Accomodation plan which will consolidate 14,900 office employees in 15 locations, down from the current 55 City-owned or leased locations.
"This consolidation will result in a reduction of the City office floor area by 1 million square feet, or 33 percent. The City's new office workplace standard will allocate 140 square feet per workstation and provide 10 desks for every 17 employees on average," the report reads.
Reducing the amount of office space is expected to save City Hall some pretty significant cash, but also have to wonder about broader implications: if other businesses are also following same trends, what are we going to do with all those empty office towers? pic.twitter.com/7khzIQmnAK— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) November 10, 2020
A Remote Work Program will also be implemented that supports the culture change of working from home including flexible hours, supervision of remote work, and performance management.
"The pandemic accelerated the City's approach to and readiness for City-wide remote working, while also presenting an opportunity to rethink the future of its workplace."
According to the report, the implementation plan for all of this will span five years.
City Council adopted ModernTO in October 2019.
It's safe to say that COVID-19 has certainly changed everything.
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