News release

Offices expected to re-emerge, post-pandemic, at center of revitalized cities

JLL report shows pressure to de-densify, importance of space utilization and density metrics

June 03, 2021

CHICAGO, Jun. 3, 2021 – Offices are expected to return as the beating heart of re-energized Central Business Districts (CBD) as cities recover from the pandemic, according to JLL’s (NYSE: JLL) new report, Benchmarking Cities and Real Estate. With strict physical distancing protocols likely to end, CBD offices will serve as destinations for face-to-face interaction, collaboration, innovation, creativity and socialization.

The return to the office – key employee drivers

“Metrics that measure human experience are becoming increasingly important to businesses and cities,” said Jeremy Kelly, Lead Director, Global Cities Research, JLL. “As we move into the next cycle of recovery, we expect offices in Central Business Districts will again become social and business hubs, adapting to accommodate the way people want to work and live in the future.”

Cities that had tight occupational densities pre-pandemic are likely to face pressure to de-densify. These cities fall into three groups:

  • Global business hubs, like Hong Kong, London and Singapore, with densities of 10 square meters per person or less
  • Business process outsourcing destinations, like Manila and Bengaluru, where business imperatives and intense usage of space have driven densities to as low as 7 square meters per person
  • Emerging mega-hubs, such as Jakarta, Mumbai, Istanbul, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, which provide business services for large and growing national markets with densities from 9 to 11 square meters per person

JLL’s report, Benchmarking Cities and Real Estate, conducted by JLL’s Global Benchmarking Services (GBS), underscores the need for businesses to track space utilization and occupational density metrics to help determine their future office space requirements. City governments also draw on these metrics to understand how buildings are used and how efficiently they use resources, in turn informing urban and environmental policy.

In the post-pandemic recovery, the next few years will be pivotal as corporates and cities set and work toward ambitious sustainability targets. Understanding how space utilization and occupational density metrics impact energy and water consumption and waste is becoming increasingly crucial. Tighter occupational densities typically mean lower energy costs and consumption per person. Future sustainability scenarios will need to take into consideration this trade-off between density and efficiency.

JLL’s GBS measures and reports total real estate costs per person including space utilization, occupational and operational cost metrics that empower businesses to make data-driven decisions about current and future space planning.

“Having consistent performance baselines that can be compared against local external benchmarks across global locations provides organizations with confidence to implement change as people start coming back to the central city offices,” said Victoria Mejevitch, Head of JLL’s Global Benchmarking Services.

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.6 billion in 2020, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 91,000 as of March 31, 2021. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit