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Toronto office vacancies expected to rise as employees continue to work from home

Toronto office vacancies are expected to further rise in 2021 as employers continue to offer remote work options even as the city reopens.

CBRE's Real Estate Market Outlook suggests that downtown Toronto office vacancies will rise to 12.4 per cent up from 7.2 per cent in 2020 and 2.2 per cent in 2019. For those keeping track, that's an increase of over 450 per cent in just two years.

With many expecting that the remote work trend will continue well past the pandemic, the city has been looking into ways to transform spaces that were previously dedicated to offices.

Some real estate companies have also noticed the trend moving away from collective workplaces and have adapted by offering amenities in place of office space within their buildings.

Downtown workplaces aren't the only ones clearing out either, as even suburban offices are expected to see a vacancy rate of 17.5 per cent, up from 15.3 per cent in 2020.

While there's still much uncertainty about what the city will look like once people start to go back to work, many employers are embracing remote work — even ones that were previously against it.

Last year, Statistics Canada reported that nearly 40 per cent of Canadians can effectively do their job while seperated from their primary work place. However, CIBC's Deputy Chief Economist suggests Canadians are overdoing it with the work from home trend.

As more residents move away from the city in favour of areas with lower living costs, many expect the job market to cater to a workforce that has discovered that commuting isn't necessary to their productivity. For businesses like Bay Street restaurants that rely on office workers and their lunch breaks, it's a concerning development.

Though much about the future remains unclear, for now at least, it seems that those rush hour commutes to the office could be a little less crazy as employees continue to work from home.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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