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How Las Vegas Office Spaces Will Change Post COVID-19

(AP Photo/John Locher)

Logan Perdelwitz prepares acrylic barriers for delivery to a casino at Screaming Images, Wednesday, May 13, 2020, in Las Vegas.

People are returning to work as Southern Nevada relaxes COVID-19 restrictions.

Before the shutdown to stop the spread of the virus, Southern Nevada's commercial real estate market was doing very well. 

Bobbi Miracle is the senior vice president for Commercial Executives Real Estate Services.

She said a lack of inventory was driving up lease prices before the lockdown.

“We actually saw new buildings coming out of the ground," she said, "We had some great new projects being developed, expansion of so many landlords and so many tenants in our town. It was amazing the amount of activity.”

Miracle said there was a lot of positivity around the commercial market and she's not sure that has changed. She said tenants and landlords have just halted activity.

“From a tenant and a landlord standpoint, everybody is kind of at a standstill looking at each other going, ‘What are you going to give me? And what are going to do for me?” she said.

There are tenants looking to lower their lease prices but Miracle said just a few months of pressure is not enough for landlords to start lowering prices.

In addition, not everything was closed for the past few months. She said health care has been doing well along with other industries. 

“There are still a lot of different markets that haven’t had the impact that some of the other ones have had,” she said.

Miracle believes people want to start coming back to the office. She said people are ready for face to face interaction with co-workers.

“They want to actually go hang out and talk to somebody in person. You want to see their face. You don’t just want to talk to them over a Zoom call or over a phone call,” she said.

While some workers want to be back in the office, in the absence of a vaccine, parts of the workplace will have to change.

Public health experts have suggested reducing the number of staff in the office at any one time and increasing the space between staff who do return. 

Dak Kopec is an associate professor of architecture at UNLV. He said workspaces will have to change.

“We’re just going to have to create more spaces in between individual cubicles or actually create full-on office spaces where there are floor to ceiling walls and doors,” he said.

Kopec added that one area of the new workspace that people may not be thinking about is the breathing zone. He explained that offices are designed by air quality engineers to bring in fresh air and take out contaminated air. 

However, when things like plexiglass are added to stop the spread of the virus, that airflow can be inhibited.

“But we know from research in the 80s, that when we start messing with the way that the ventilation system works, we can create pockets of greater contamination,” he said.

Kopec said plexiglass barriers may have to be a temporary, all be it not the best, solution for now.

He also suggests a simple solution to keeping people walking between cubicles from spreading germs. Kopec said a small fan that is blowing away from the person in a cubicle could help.

“That way, if I’m walking and I sneeze and I cough, the fan will grab the molecules or the particles and will keep them away from the cubicle area,” he said.

Kopec thinks the pandemic is showing designers that they must be more proactive from a public health point of view. He noted the globe has already endured SARs and MERs and now COVID-19.

Dak Kopec, associate professor of architecture, UNLV; Bobbi Miracle, senior vice president, Commercial Executives Real Estate Services 


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(Editor's note: Chris Sieroty no longer works for Nevada Public Radio)