By Bravanti

Like many other industries, commercial real estate (CRE) was hit hard by the pandemic, with offices and other workspaces abandoned for home offices, sending vacancies soaring, rents declining, and, ultimately, having a negative impact on the CRE workforce.   

As a notable backdrop to today’s environment, the industry was in a very strong position  prior to the downturn.  

In fact, CRE was one of many industries enjoying the longest economic expansion in U.S. history (from 2009 to February of this year) buoyed by increased consumer spending and low unemployment, among other factors. The commercial real estate industry paralleled this economic growth, with forecasts of 2.1% growth throughout 2020 and into 2021. 

Then came COVID, bringing much of that stability and growth to a screeching halt. As employees departed the workplace en masse, without any knowledge of when—or even if—they would return, an entire industry was left in their wake. While sectors within the industry experienced varying degrees of impact, most were negatively impacted to a significant degree, leading to large workforce reductions. 

Layoffs are always difficult, but especially challenging for organizations that aren’t accustomed to facilitating transitions at scale, as was the case for one of our clients 

Prior to the pandemic, our client was fortunate to average fewer than six separations per year, a track record they were rightfully proud of. So, when COVID arrived in the U.S. and lockdowns began, they were unprepared for what came next. 

By July, leadership had realized that the firm’s existing outplacement provider wasn’t the best choice to facilitate what would eventually be a 1300%+ increase in employee separations. Given the longevity of many of its exiting employees, our client sought to provide each individual with high-touch, expedient support to ease the transition. By offering a holistic program that included assigned career coaches, individual assessments, personalized guidance, and training in key career transition areas, our client was able to facilitate a positive transition experience for tenured team members during a time of heightened fear and doubt. 

It’s a challenging time for everyone, especially exiting employees entering the job search market. For now, industry watchers are examining short and long-term impacts as real estate leaders prepare for an undefined future. At Bravanti, we’re optimistic for the future and the promise that 2021 holds for employers, employees, and those searching for employment. 

For more information on our approach and the results of this career transition project, check out the case study. To learn more about our Career Transition & Outplacement services, send us an email to or give us a call at 312-577-4001.  

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