Recently, I was on a panel at the First Coast Real Estate Outlook.  I was asked to reflect on the changes I have seen in workspace and where it is headed in the future. 

 When I first moved to Jacksonville in the early 90s, I worked for Barnett Bank as an asset manager handling the sale of foreclosed properties.  My office was on the 20th floor of the then Barnett Bank (now Bank of America tower).   Everyone had an office with high-end carpet, linen wall coverings and artwork provided by the company.   On the top of the building were the Barnett Bank executive offices with expansive offices, furniture from exotic locations, personal restrooms with showers and wet bars!  We also had an executive dining room with high quality cuisine.  This building was built at the end of the Big 80s. 

 Fast forward to 2003 when I became a broker with Trammell Crow Company, I was actually responsible for trying to sublease the top floor space for several years and we could not pay anyone to take the space because the finishes were so high-end and no one wanted to demolish them.   The layout was to lush for any company and no one could justify that type of space to their shareholders.  That space is still available and they have now put the café on that floor. 

 This is still the case and it is becoming even more evident when I discuss with clients on their office space needs.  Most want an open cubicle type environment, with very few offices and more collaboration type spaces.  More companies are trying to put more people efficient space with less square footage to save on real estate costs. 

There are so many changes happening lately that our company has set up a practice group that specializes in workplace strategy. 

 The trends we are seeing is that we are moving from “I” space to “we” space.  Technology advancements and changing workforce needs are evolving the nature of where and how work gets done.  The macro trends are as follows:

  •  Globalization of intelligence – Collaboration with others who are remote or culturally diverse
  • Ubiquitous Connectivity – Technology migrating toward cloud computing
  • Flexible Work Accommodations – Largest growth in the US workforce will be workers over 55 who seek out more flexible work arrangements
  • Societal Demands to Conserve – Reducing our footprint

 Within these macro trends we are seeing the following ways office space is changing:

  • Smaller workstations so they fit more people in a space – if a large company leases several million square feet across the country, even 2 or 3% less square feet can make a huge difference in their bottom line.
  • Higher parking ratios – 6 per 1,000 is typical whereas 4-5 per 1,000 was the norm 10 years ago. 
  • More amenities in their location so the employees don’t have to get in their cars, and so the workplace feels more like a home.  (Flat screen tvs in break and reception areas)   
  • More open work areas with spaces for collaboration – Some will have a quad of cubicles and then an area with chairs/couches for brainstorming.
  • Owners are often asked to provide back-up generators or will allow the tenant to install a generator
  • Need for multiple fiber providers with faster connectivity due to video conferencing and downloading videos on the internet
  • Fewer dedicated storage rooms / more IT spaces
  • Spaces for hoteling / touchdown / plug in
  • More requirements for remote conferencing and training
  • Less dedicated administration staff and spaces
  • Fewer private perimeter offices / more access to windows (natural day-lighting) for open office environments
  • More interior windows to reinforce workplace “transparency” and “accountability”
  • Indirect lighting has become common place and expected / motion sensor and detectors
  • Automatic Energy and Security monitoring
  • Demountable wall systems (versus drywall) are more affordable and more desirable for flexibility and sustainability
  • Need for shared private areas (enclaves) for personal time
  • Wellness areas (nurture rooms, fitness centers, walking trails, corporate clinics, showers, lockers)
  • Medical Spaces – less institutional and clinical / more hospitality  and retail / customer friendly enviroments
  • Office Spaces – more corporate branding  and reinforcement of the business

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