Skift Take

A new hospitality think tank wants commercial real estate firms to help it redesign offices, betting the remote work trend won't last.

Series: Future of Work

Future of Work

As organizations start to embrace distributed work and virtual meetings, the corporate travel and meetings sectors are preparing for change. Read Skift’s ongoing coverage of this shift in business travel behavior through the lens of both brands and consumers.

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The large question mark hanging over the future of workplaces has prompted one accommodation specialist to set up an independent think tank. Synergy Housing, a member of Ascott, has launched Reve Innovation Lab, which sees offices as a blank canvas — but its mission to “reposition commercial office assets” may also having something to do with gaining an edge over rivals, too. The debate over how many employees will end back up in their offices is very much ongoing, but downbeat notes from one of the largest co-working space providers reveals a sense of urgency. IWG's improvement in occupancy was lower than expected, it warned in a trading update this month, and likely to impact its results. And in the UK the government is reportedly drafting legislation that could make it impossible for employers to insist staff return full-time to their place of work. Back to the Drawing Board Reve is headed up by industry veteran Jon Wohlfert, who has previously worked at Marriott brand Residence Inn, BridgeStreet (recently bought by National Housing Corporation) and Reside. Topping the agenda are “distressed property assets,” and Wohlfert said these include hotels as well as offices. “Hotels have been in a bit of distress. That market may not come back, and they’ll be looking for solutions to optimize that asset, or reposition it,” he said. Real estate companies no longer know how their assets are going to perform, he added, so he’s open to listening to new ideas, to offer them new channels of revenue. “We believe office vacancy will continue in the coming years and office owners and investors will seek to reposition office assets,” he said. Reve is now working with an architectural firm to define a partial conversion of existing commercial office space to a residential component. Ultimately it will build a case study that illustrates how it can be done, echoing one developer’s plans to patent a blueprint for new homes that cater to remote workers. Global engineering firm Arup ha