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By Allen Arender

What will our offices look like in 10 years and how will we work differently?  Technology has greatly changed office space designs and how we use them.  We are also starting to see a culture change as younger and more tech savvy employees enter our work environments.

A recent webinar I attended still emphasized telecommuting and that more and more employees will be working remotely in the future.  The theory is that companies will need less office space and provide employees more flexibility.  This has been the leading theory for the last decade.  While this may continue, there are signs that this option is becoming less viable, especially for larger companies.  Recently, Yahoo and Best Buy, revoked their telecommuting policies and have asked everyone to Return to the Office.  In short, both companies determined that it was very difficult to monitor productivity and employees were missing opportunities for collaboration within the office where the BIG ideas are hatched.

So, what is next?  Without a doubt, companies are trying to shrink the amount of space they occupy, but I believe most are putting more people in the space, not sending more off to telecommute.  They are looking for spaces that offer something unique encouraging people to WANT to come to the office.  Most do not view traditional, commodity office space as the means to accomplish this.

We have seen this in several of our industrial redevelopment projects where we have turned shabby industrial warehouses or factories into “industrial chic” office space.  The companies attracted to these spaces are looking for opportunities to foster collaboration among their employees by arranging predominately open floor plan work environments.  There may be 1 person per 100 SF in the “desk” area of the office, but they make up for the tight quarters with foosball, pool tables, fitness areas, mini-cafes, and the most recent one I have seen, corn hole (bean bag toss) in the expansive open areas.  There are also very few filing cabinets in these spaces as more and more move to digital storage, which cuts down on the space need.  We even have one tenant that no longer uses a business land line — all cell phones.

Only time will tell what the future office environment will be, but we are getting good exposure early in the gestation.

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