Ground-Floor Offices Grow More Popular

December 7, 2020

Ground-floor commercial spaces and offices may see higher demand and fetch a premium during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, “high-in-the-sky agencies accessible only by cramped, slow elevators may no longer be practical for employees or clients,” says SRW Agency’s founder and chairman, Charlie Stone.

SRW, a Chicago-based marketing agency focused on natural health and wellness brands, opened a new ground-floor office in Chicago’s urban West Loop neighborhood in March at the beginning of the pandemic. The ground floor covers about 10,000 square feet in Chicago’s West Loop.

“The first floor is just more accessible, both literally and figuratively, which allows folks to travel in and out of the office promptly and safely,” Stone says. “During these times, people not only seek contactless delivery of food, they also desire frictionless accessibility to office spaces.”

A spacious office setting

Courtesy of SRW Agency

The commercial real estate sector has been hit hard in the pandemic, as businesses rethink their spaces. Some are vowing remote-only work, others are heading to the suburbs, and still other companies—like Amazon and Facebook—are snatching up downtown office spaces, believing normalcy will eventually return. Neighborhoods likely will grow due to work-from-home advantages after the pandemic, Rhonda Diaz Caldeway, executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle, said in a comment for the Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast California Commercial Real Estate Survey. “As a result, daytime demand will increase for local neighborhood retailers and restaurants that formerly relied on night and weekend traffic,” she says.

For now, the SRW Agency allows its employees to work remotely. But “forget skyscrapers; small huddles on the ground floor is our future of work,” says CEO Kate Weidner. “Through this experience, we’ve seen the future of the office with a twist. Our vision is less like the traditional office space and more like a library—a safe, comfortable, wide-open thinking space for both collaboration and production. It’s there when you want and need it, but it’s not someplace you’re required to be. So far, both our team members and partners love it, masks and all.”