Vacancy due to ‘elevator problems’ corona: ‘The higher the building, the more difficult’

At 9:00 a.m. with twelve people crammed into the elevator to the workplace seems like something from the past. In order to guarantee the 1.5 metres, a maximum of four people can face up to the walls. It is one of the things that building managers are struggling with as more and more people return to the office.

“In the Netherlands we have 50 million square meters of commercial real estate”, says Michel Tobรฉ, chairman of FMN, the professional association of facility managers. “That’s 570,000 buildings and more than half have an elevator. That’s trouble.”

Vertical transport capacity

“I’m glad we’re here again”, says Marcel van Bijnen, provincial secretary of the province of Noord-Brabant. “It took some getting used to The Bossche building in which the provincial government is housed has 23 floors. Only the first floors are now available, from September 1st up to and including floor 12 will be used. “It gets complicated up there.”

The problem is mainly in the elevators. “In 1.5 hours, 200 people can take the elevator upstairs. So we can’t make the most of all the space.”

The problem of the lift is in what building managers call ‘vertical transport capacity’. Tobรฉ: “The higher the building, the greater the effect of the measures.”

No more peak in the morning

Maurice Verwer, director of building management at accountancy firm PWC, sees that working from home has made employees more flexible with starting and ending times of work. “We don’t expect a peak in the morning.”

Lots of PWC staff now take the stairs, he says:

Lunch delivered

Tobรฉ also foresees problems with meetings with many people – “video conferencing is not suitable for large groups” – and lunch. “The catering is now usually in a central room, which will have to be decentralized,” he says.

At the Provincial House of Noord-Brabant, trolleys from airplanes have now been purchased so that lunch can be delivered to desks. At PWC there is also an opposite trend. “We used to encourage people to eat in restaurants, but now we facilitate people to eat on the floor.”

Office of the future

A lot of thought is given to what the office of the future will look like. Harold Coenders of real estate company Colliers estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the staff will continue to work in the office


In the previous crisis, offices were transformed into hotels and (student) homes. This can happen again, although according to Coenders, the demand for hotels will be much less than then.

“The biggest question is: when do you cut the knots to invest in this?” says Tobรฉ. The advice for working from home is still scheduled until September 1, although companies expect it to be extended. But until the cabinet makes a decision on this, many entrepreneurs are in a state of uncertainty. “We are all eagerly awaiting new advice.”