The State of Commercial Contracting: Adapting to the New Normal

commercial construction worker looking at a project holding a hard hat

At the end of a tumultuous second quarter, what should tenants and landlords in the Mid-Atlantic be considering construction-wise as we approach four months of our “new normal?” Joe Versey, Senior Vice President of Business Development for MacKenzie’s Contracting Division, weighs in on the current state of commercial contracting and trends in construction, workplace renovations and property adaptations that we may see in the coming months.


Spikes and Dips Will Vary by Industry

We are working amid a pandemic that nobody has experienced in the modern era. Tenants and landlords are getting creative as they redefine space utilization; employees are working from home and striving to keep their work-life balance from teetering too far to one side; the need for construction is ever-changing as building owners adapt their current 2020 goals and revisit their need for space. How do we take a step back and reevaluate our plans as we enter the third quarter of the year?

“It depends on the industry,” says Joe Versey, Senior VP of Business Development at MacKenzie Contracting. “Methods of protecting people will be a priority.” The office world is seeing a slowdown with an influx of workers transitioning to remote work. Business owners may have to downsize when applicable, while others may need to expand their offices to accommodate a safer working space.

“As a result of a lot of caution, many construction plans may have been put on hold for now,” says Versey. While general contractors for a big supermarket chain may be booming, many big-box companies in the retail space may be experiencing a unique struggle. Versey notes, “We are seeing an increase in demand for warehouse and industrial space.”

Adapting and Repositioning are Key Actions Moving Forward

The biggest advice for tenants and landlords across all industries? Adapt, adapt, adapt. Your decisions regarding your property should not stay static through this ever-changing environment.

“Adapt what you have,” says Versey. This may mean transforming hallways into one-way entrances and exits or installing hands-free appliances and technologies. Building owners and tenants are implementing plexiglass barriers in offices, installing light sensors, hands free openers, air scrubbers and UV lights along with taking employees’ temperatures as they arrive for work.

The retail industry has taken a hit due to the current events, but we are also seeing retailers adapt their current setup. For example, restaurants and coffee shops are adding walk-up windows to new spaces and drive-through food options are adding second drive-through lanes. Malls and brick and mortar stores continue to struggle and, for some, the Covid-19 pandemic has been too much to come back from.

Regarding the healthcare industry, Versey says “MacKenzie Contracting is working with some hospital systems to safely remobilize with construction projects. Some Retirement Communities are looking at repositioning accommodation units for residents to reoccupy”. This is and will remain to be a very cautious return to some semblance of normalcy given the vulnerability of patients and residents, respectively. We are working closely with our clients to ensure a safe working environment for everybody involved.

Tenant Safety and Client Relationships Are Top Priorities

As an effect of COVID-19, it is true we will see more interior alterations to workplaces with public health being the driver in the decision.

“We are seeing tenants and landlords putting plans in place for construction within their current locations out of a need to implement safety measures that will prevent the spread of the virus,” says Versey. “The workplace will look different for many; while there are those that may consider downsizing as the ability to telecommute proves more possible and efficient, others may expand their footprint to maintain the necessary social distancing. While most space adaptions are protective, they are also perceptive, providing people with a sense of comfort and safety as they transition back to their workplace.”

Versey continues by expressing the importance of checking in on existing clients. “Client relationships is a large focus right now as landlords and tenants struggle with making COVID-related adaptations.” Versey says the team at MacKenzie Contracting is prioritizing client relationships, calling existing clients during this time and being a resource is more important now than ever.

Major Contracting-Related Questions Will Be Answered in the Next Half of the Year

Post-COVID is going to look a lot different than pre-COVID, and this poses a lot of questions to the construction industry, to landlords and tenants, and to building owners reconsidering their plans for expansion and renovation in 2020. For example, with COVID-19 reinventing our opinions on shared space, what will be the new requirement for square footage in offices and workspaces? With reopening’s on the rise and businesses working to readapt and get back to business, how will property owners make the necessary adjustments while streamlining costs? Surely, it varies industry by industry, business by business. As we move into the 3rd quarter, decisions will have to be made on property expansions, with the safety and health of individuals on the forefront of the decision-making.

MacKenzie Contracting is Staying on Top of the Construction Trends

MacKenzie Contracting has created their own Covid-19 policy to complement their already stringent safety standards in order to maintain healthy job sites. This allows clients, sub-contractors, employees and inspectors to take comfort knowing that every possible measure has been taken to ensure their health and safety. To stay on top of the trends in Maryland commercial contracting, or to speak to one of our team members, contact us today. To learn more about MacKenzie’s Commercial Contracting Division, click here. We are proud to serve the Mid-Atlantic region with offices in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford County, Howard County, and Annapolis.