How To Pivot in Uncertain Times

May 10, 2022

Thankfully, the pandemic is quickly turning into an endemic and life is starting to feel a bit more normal again. But salespeople like myself and those who service the office market are still wondering­– when will the commercial market be back into full swing? Some of us are even considering if it will ever come back.

Many salespeople were optimistic that the market would be back in January this year. But in San Francisco, the opposite has occurred, and we now have an increase in office vacancy.

Large companies like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs had announced that they were requiring employees to come back to the office full-time, five days a week.  They received major backlash from employees and promptly changed the requirement to only three days a week, which has been difficult to implement.

Other companies like Airbnb continue to report higher profits and increased productivity that they attribute to remote employees. Many companies have decided to ditch the office space altogether to create a fully remote work environment for the foreseeable future.

And then there’s those companies that want to be back in the office have been impacted by the labor shortage and supply chain issues, causing delays in reopening.

All of the above could be viewed as excuses, but great salespeople will see these challenges as opportunities.  For the salespeople still standing and have yet to retire or change careers, you are in the middle of a major opportunity. You can move up the ranks in your company, you could start your own company, and increase deal flows.  While the market may be smaller, tenants are still moving and there is still business to be done. Now is your opportunity to pivot and move up the ladder.

  1. Understand which markets are seeing the most serious demand. In San Francisco, we’re seeing robotics, instrumentation, tech manufacturing, and life sciences all experiencing high growth. These firms cannot operate with remote staff. These sectors need office space, creating a big opportunity for all of us.
  2. Take a look at the short-term office market. This could include coworking spaces, short-term leases, and the sublease market. All three still require our expertise and services.
  3. Work with VCs who support startups. We are still seeing tech startups looking for office space. Many of them require employees to come into the office.

It’s very easy to put your head in the sand and look at the current market uncertainties as a nail in the coffin to your business.

Instead pivot and learn what new opportunities are coming that you can take advantage of, not focusing on what is no longer available to you. Remember that in any market cycle or any economic environment, there are always winners and losers.  Find out who is winning now and go after them for your business.

Image via Pexels


Written by: Hans Hansson

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Hans Hansson is President of Starboard Commercial Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email [email protected] or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,