The impact of Remote Working on Commercial Office Space Occupancy in Kampala-Uganda
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The massive shift to working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic triggered discussions about its potential impact on the future demand for office space and the risk it poses to the performance of office markets. It’s against this background, that this paper investigates the impact of working from home on the evolution of key indicators of office occupier markets across Kampala. In this study, Remote working is defined as a type of flexible working arrangement that allows an employee to work from a remote location outside of corporate offices. This research paper explains the unprecedented scale and the relative success of the global “working-from-home experiment” which raised questions about a potential structural shift in the office sector in Kampala. The study identifies reasons why people remote work, explains the concept of remote working and how it impacts the demand for office space and employee productivity. From a target population of 80 commercial office space building in Kampala, the researcher used a sample of 52 commercial office space buildings based on purposive sampling and convenience. Data was collected from Knight Frank Uganda, Broll Uganda, Bageine and company, Myrtle concept properties and other property in house property managers with the help of questionnaires and interviews. Results from the survey showed that 97.2% of the respondents agreed that COVID 19 really hit the office sector and remote working of course has had a hand in the drop on the average office space occupancy rates. Although much drop-in office space occupancy rates were more evident in the secondary office space market with a lot of downsizing and relocations by tenants. From the field interviews, it was noted that there’s evidence of these drops in office space occupancy levels during the pandemic as a result of working from home experiment. In conclusion, going forward there’s a need for landlords to adopt office space design models such incorporations of all working environment amenities such network utilities, restroom work spaces (lobbies) that meet the tenant requirements particularly in order to increase and have a balance in occupancy levels because during the Covid 19 period and the post Covid 19 era, most workers (tenants) resorted to split working time in shifts, half capacity working models, which brought about co working and tenants opting for smaller and flexible spaces that accommodate unforeseeable circumstances and expenditures by adopting flexible lease terms and rent concessions.