While their clients may be working from home now more than in pre-pandemic days, many registered investment advisors say they are adding office square footage.

“If you’re a growing organization, then your real estate needs are also going to grow,” said Gerry Goldberg, chief executive officer of GYL Financial Synergies .

Workplace flexibility is important to staffers, but money management is a “people business,” Goldberg said.

“We don’t see that our needs for real estate are going to decrease over time,” he noted. “They’re going to continue to increase.”

GYL has three offices: two in Connecticut, in West Hartford and Westport, and one in Parsippany, New Jersey. Each runs according to what both clients and team members need, according to Goldberg.

In 2020, GYL expanded the old space design, which “was somewhat dated,” Goldberg said, adding that the new space — which the firm began using in September 2020 — has a layout that’s more conducive to collaboration. Continuing that growth trend, the firm is expanding its West Hartford location this year to a larger space.

At Snowden Lane Partners the last couple of years have been all about growth, said CEO Rob Mooney, who described each as “a banner recruiting year.”

“That actually completely filled our New York City headquarters office, which we've been working to do for a number of years, and then required us to really, significantly expand the space that we have in Coral Gables, Florida,” Mooney said. The New York office has 35 people, and 17 are advisors.

Snowden has 12 offices nationwide, though they “never closed any of them completely,” Mooney said, adding that adding that “a significant minority” now want to work mostly at home.

Matson Money also kept offices open during the pandemic, according to CEO Mark Matson. The practice has 32 employees in Ohio and 40 in Arizona.

Matson views online meeting platforms like Zoom as a way to offer company-hosted events, like the American Dream Experience — a workshop for clients and investors, focused on growth and innovation — to a larger number of people than the physical offices could accommodate.

Today, the firm office itself looks mostly the same, Matson said, noting that aside from some added hand sanitizer, “it hasn’t really changed that much.”

What has changed for many is how they use their office space, according to Bradford Bell, a professor of strategic human resources at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

“Companies are rethinking that to an extent because they're thinking when employees are in the office, what should they be doing? What should office space really be designed to do?” Bell said. Spaces to collaborate are critical in this new environment, he noted.

Some companies have been intentional in their office design, choosing to place bathrooms, water coolers, or spaces to eat in certain locations “to drive traffic,” according to Bell.

But in most places, adding space won’t come cheap.

Within the 25 largest U.S. markets — ranked by available commercial real estate average asking rent per square foot — that cost has generally increased, according to data from commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE.

A couple of outliers include San Francisco, where average asking rent per square foot decreased from $62.79 to $55.56 over the same period and Manhattan, where rent decreased from $73.88 to $71.08.

Even so, it’s worth the investment to some.

To GYL’s Goldberg, not being in person negatively impacts two business components: culture and training. For employees who have been working together for years, there’s not as much of an impact, but for younger people — who aren’t as integrated within the company yet — it can be more challenging.

As such, GYL employees are mostly working in person, though there are some working remotely for specific reasons. “We want to see our people. We want to be in person,” Goldberg said.

Advisors looking to stretch out may be paying more per square foot in many wealth centers than they did pre-pandemic, according to data from CBRE.

The table below shows how prices have shifted in the 25 largest commercial real estate markets nationwide.