For decades, authorities have been trying to decrease the pressure off Central Business District (CBD) by doing efforts that can bring place of work closer to home and reducing commute time. The pandemic has brought odds to the fates of many industries; however, it has also brought a revolution in a matter of few weeks! The investment in technology infrastructure has enabled companies to rely on extended work from home during the lockdown situation. This has aided town developers in strategizing how to decentralize Central Business District (CBD).
The strain on CBD is high during peak hours because of plethora of corporate offices in this area. The seamless movement during these peak hours is quite expensive for the town authorities because the infrastructure remains underutilized for the remaining hours. Hence, township planners intended to spread the business premises across the city to level the infrastructure strain. This will bring multiple benefits as listed below:
- Optimum use of fixed resources like land in all areas complementing the commercial value of property across the city
- Reducing commute time will help in lower number of cars/ vehicles which will decrease the requirement of wide roads and flyovers. This area can be utilized to build public parks, cycle tracks and recreational facilities
The authorities built multiple strategies to promote decentralization as listed below:
- Government invested in infrastructure by building office spaces in areas like Paya Lebar, Tampines, Jurong which are at outskirts of the city
- The idea was to pass on the benefit of lower investment in form of lower lease rentals
- Government offices and statutory boards were shifted to these areas to bring boost in demand
Unfortunately, the idea of spreading offices didn’t fuel up as many companies were reluctant to shift and reactions were mixed. Some companies opted to move at lower rentals while others preferred to stay because of high investment that they did in CBD. Also, while commute is a problem for many, there are many employees who stay close by their workplace. It is not practically possible for all employees to shift to a new office. It brings problems like discomfort of employees due to longer commute followed by attrition, thus making it less lucrative for companies.
Coronavirus has acted as a circuit breaker as the companies which always kept work-from-home as a secondary option are batting on their primary foot using this technology boon. The thought of absence of live human interaction was unnerving but accidentally it has become new normal! Work from home saves commute time which has domino effect on the routine. People get to spend time with their kids, maintain work life balance along with picking new habits! Positives are now highlighting!
With heavy reliance on video conferencing apps and online mediums, it is not wrong to say that companies might relook at their decisions of property investment in future years. The office occupancy and rentals may suffer in future if companies choose to tap on WFH opportunity. All of us who are working from home are piloting a new future strategy.
It can be concluded by saying that this pandemic can act as catalytic event fulfilling the desire of decentralizing CBD and benefit transport and infrastructure.
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