Office Space Design

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A changing workforce and changing work habits are causing big changes in office design and companies are working hard to find ways to accommodate these changes in order to retain and attract the best talent.

Paul Schulman, Brookfield Office Properties’ president and COO, and Joseph Stettinius, Cushman & Wakefield’s chief executive of the Americas, recently discussed the issue at the Asset & Property Management Symposium of the New York chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management.

In an article for National Real Estate Investor, Chris Mellen, IREP president, writes that “in terms of keeping up with a new age of tenants, Stettinius (notes) that our stock of buildings — and therefore property managers — is behind the curve. ‘We tell potential tenants all that’s great about a building environment, and then we tell them that the building’s standard hours are eight to six and that you have to call 24 hours in advance if you need to turn on your HVAC. And by the way, you can’t bring your dog to work.’”

However, workers of the new millennium expect service and flexibility, which includes “separate metering and giving people a lot more control over their environments,” Stettinus says.

Schulman adds that a lot of companies are downsizing, “going from 300 square feet per person to 150. But while personal space is shrinking, the tenants aren’t getting smaller. They’re supplementing that space with collaborative and social areas.”

That means more home-like offices, multipurpose workspaces and modular layouts, writes Chuck Leddy in an article for Spark.

Employees “want to be comfortable when they work long hours in the office,” Leddy says. “So a major trend in workspace design is the office that feels like a cozy home or college dormitory. A snack area, one fully-stocked at the company’s expense, is almost a must-have these days. Plush couches for lounging around, as well as plants, natural lighting and maybe a ping pong or pool table, are also part of this office-as-cozy-home trend.”

In addition to being home-like and welcoming, Leddy writes, the modern office space should “support different purposes, from individual immersion to small and large group meetings to quiet, restorative reflection. … Just as space should support collaboration, it must allow for privacy when needed,” such as for negotiating a contract or taking a personal call.

Modular layouts, meanwhile, “allow companies to move furniture around quickly to meet their evolving needs. As Scott Lesizza, principal at Workwell Partners, explains it on Officing Today, ‘Workspaces will be customizable and multi-purpose, almost entirely eliminating the need for dedicated workstations.’ If the CEO calls an all-hands meeting, for example, community tables could be moved to open a larger space for the meeting,” Leddy says.

Also important to office workers are green building technologies. “Smart technology can also enhance energy efficiency, and that is a prominent concern of office tenants,” writes Nell Gable in an article for PivotDesk. “Many prefer to lease LEED certified space and see energy conservation as both a cost saving and a desirable part of their company’s image. Considerations like energy efficient lighting and green construction are very important to many employers, and generally have a positive impact on productivity.”

What are companies in Madison doing to meet the office design needs of their changing workforces? Post your comments below!



About the Author

David Haug is a Madison WI commercial real estate broker. He is passionate about helping clients, customers, and friends succeed in commercial real estate. He is also a raging Badger fan. #OnWisconsin Baby! Connect with David on LinkedIn: