Qatar’s workforce gradually returning to offices
Doha: The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a surge of office employees working from home; however, Google Mobility statistics, based on GPS tracking, illustrate that the workforce in Qatar has gradually been returning to the office since Eid Al Fitr, Cushman & Wakefield Qatar noted at a webinar yesterday while presenting its Qatar Real Estate Market report for the second quarter of 2020.
While work-from-home (‘WFH’) has proved a success for many companies, Cushman and Wakefield anticipate that there will be a gradual change in how offices are used, rather than a steep drop in office demand.
Workplaces of the future are more likely to see an increased ‘hot-desks’ and meeting rooms rather than traditional workstations, while greater flexibility towards employees working from home will be expected.
The webinar also focused on the impact that COVID-19 has had on the various sectors of the real estate market in Qatar in recent months. After the implementation of lockdown in Qatar, real estate activity fell in April and May by 72 percent and 45 percent respectively from the corresponding months in 2019. However, a strong recovery in transactional activity in June saw the total for the quarter fall by just 5 percent from the second quarter of 2019.
The residential market remained relatively stable during the second quarter of the year, with tenants continuing to relocate at the expiry of their lease agreements, taking advantage of rentfree incentives and reduced rents.
The report added that the full impact of COVID-19 will materialise in the third quarter with a fall in demand brought about by recent cutbacks in governmentrelated companies and a likely slowdown in new residents travelling to Qatar.
The retail and hospitality sectors have experienced the most significant impact from the COVID-19 lockdown, with a sudden drop in tourism and the enforced closure of retail malls coming into effect in mid-March.
While the retail sector is expected to start its recovery in line with the staged re-opening of Qatar in the third quarter of 2020, Cushman and Wakefield anticipate that the recovery in the hospitality sector, which is linked to the public’s confidence in travelling and attending large events, may take longer. COVID-19’s impact on land values was discussed in depth. Analysis of the transactional activity during the first half of the year showed a significant increase in the total value of properties sold.
However, average prices fell by approximately 11 percent year-on-year. Cushman and Wakefield also presented their international ‘Recovery Ready’ document, which is a guide to help landlords and employers safely re-open workplaces.
The report, which provides a strategic and practical guide was prepared with input from various international experts in health & safety and is based on Cushman & Wakefield’s property management experience in Asia, where they assisted more than 10,000 companies with over one million employees return to the workplace by the end of April 2020 Edd Brookes, General Manager of Cushman & Wakefield Qatar, and Head of Middle East, said: “While this has been a challenging period for everyone in the property market, the staged re-opening of Qatar should see performance metrics imp.
Source: The Peninsula Qatar