Innovations in Commercial Office Space
Commercial workspaces are evolving as more people split their time between home and office. As a result, there are innovative ideas as to how the future of commercial real estate will evolve in terms of rethinking office designs in order to not only accommodate a growing hybrid work force but also encourage workers to spend time at the office.
Picture courtesy Strong Project Modern Office Furniture
Due to the onset of the pandemic where remote working became the new norm, for office workers some reports indicate that worker’s office use now is on average 50% of pre-pandemic levels, and that employee engagement as to how involved employees are about their work and workplace decreased for the second year in 2022. Bottom line: people are more likely to stay in a hybrid scenario because workers like flexibility and generally believe that they are more productive.
Instead of having assigned desks or locations within an office, more offices are having docking stations with computers, where employees can use a space to work without necessarily lugging their own computers. As such, employers are increasingly considering the actual space that is necessary to accommodate the growing hybrid work to environments that resemble one’s home.
How is the office evolving?
Architects, developers, and property managers are responding to changes within the traditional office by focusing on trends that will transform the future of office buildings. One such trend dubbed “resimercial” is a mix of residential commercial, where the office will resemble more like home with fewer desks, more couches, pillows, and plants. By appearing less corporate and more like home, the goal of this new generation of resimercial space is to welcome employees who have become used to working at home.
Picture courtesy absolute interior
The theme of the future workplace is flexibility. There will be fewer corporate boardrooms; and more adaptable spaces with immersive technology so that the videoconference feels as though colleagues are within the same room. Future offices also will have more outdoor spaces, with more light and windows. This is, again, to replicate what many employees enjoy when working from home.
Some office developers are switching floors that used to be leased to tenants for use as an amenity floor for the entire office building where all tenants within the building can use outdoor space, indoor working areas, dining rooms, and a bar all of which is included in the rent. Other trends involve creating more “quiet” spaces to focus on work which was the top reason why employees indicated that they wanted to go back to work according to a recent survey.
How do these innovations affect the overall real estate market?
With all of these innovations, the question still remains: what happens to all of the real estate and businesses that used to supply and cater to the traditional workplace? While we are transforming our workspace to include what we enjoy from working at home as well as a hybrid work life situation, restaurants and retailers that served the corporate community also has evolved. Many of the food trucks and restaurants that served offices pre-pandemic have been replaced as their customer base evaporated due to people working from home or hybrid working. Office suppliers and vendors of companies whose employee base still work remotely or in a hybrid situation have most likely seen a reduction of sales since less people are physically at the office. Retail stores that are adjacent to office buildings are also affected by less foot traffic as many people still are not working at traditional office spaces and might not even return to 9-5 Monday to Fridays. In fact, the “new” in office work week is now more likely to resemble Tuesdays to Thursdays 10-4.
Picture courtesy Marriott HQ by Gensler Garrett Rowland/Gensler
Perhaps as more offices evolve seeking workers to return to the office by being more “resimercial” and incorporating facets of hybrid work, real estate that surrounds these spaces will also adjust and adapt to the new normal.
What does this all mean?
The commercial real estate industry is evolving due to the change of workplace demands brought upon by the pandemic. With many workers being able to either work remotely or in a hybrid environment, innovations in designing and adapting office spaces will include aspects that workers want: open spaces, feeling as though they are home, and having their own space. One thing is for sure that our workplace, office spaces and related suppliers and vendors, and surrounding real estate will continue to evolve and affect each other.
From The Trenches