Contact Us

The New Office Normal

The New Office Normal
We're still light years away from teleporters that can take you from your desk to the coffeemaker in mere milliseconds, but there are plenty of other ways office space is changing. We asked our panel of office space experts at Bisnow's Chicago Tech Summit/Office of the Future just how.
JLL managing director Jack Keenan
In the past, culture wasn't as closely tied to a tenant's space as it is today, says JLL managing director Jack Keenan. Not so long ago, tenants weren't as particular about having their space reflect their specific culture, provided it offered them certain basics. (A warm desk and three conference calls a day were all they needed.) But with tech firms leading the way—"every firm is a tech company now"—companies are thinking more critically about how their space fits their culture, which ultimately leads to happier employees and increases retention.
Reznick (Client) MCHI
GrubHub COO and co-founder Mike Evans,
GrubHub COO and co-founder Mike Evans, whose company is moving into new digs this week at 111 W Washington, says that his company was looking for all the open-space, collaborative features associated with the new wave of office space, and especially, a large floorplate that allows those features to flourish. But whatever the precise details of the design, a space needs to make the employees’ lives better and their jobs easier so they can focus on customers. “There needs to be a welcoming environment, and one that allows employees to take time off within that environment,” Mike says. (Has anyone ever considered an in-office beach?)
Office Moving 2012 MCHI
Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center CEO Kevin Willer
Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center CEO Kevin Willer—operator of 1871, the workspace in the Merchandise Mart for digital startups—says that the startups in the space have a few people and an idea to pursue, and are all tech-enabled and very collaborative in their earliest stages. “They need an ecosystem of peers, mentors, and workshops,” he notes, which 1871 provides. Since 1871’s opening a few months ago, the response has been tremendous, with about 150 startups now working there. The talent is here in Chicago, Kevin says, and spaces like 1871 help keep them here, rather than seeing them decamp to either coast. Chicago, he says, can be an even more important tech hub in the future. It’s got all the right ingredients.
Friedman Properties EVP Jason Friedman
Friedman Properties EVP Jason Friedman said that CRE pros measure the lifespan of restaurants in regular years, and nightclubs, which usually don’t last as long, in dog years. But he got the hardiest laugh of the morning when he said that as tenants, the real estate industry sees tech companies as either goldfish—they tend to die the next day—or rabbits, because if a tech companies does well, there’s going to be a lot more rabbits needing a lot more space, soon. (If you are in need of further explanation, please check the National Geographic channel.)
CBRE SVP John Dempsey
The goal is to make your building “sticky,” says CBRE SVP John Dempsey. Successful office buildings in the future are going to be those sticky ones, and by that he means, “the property and the amenities within it become part of the employee’s lifestyle, because when it comes to recuitment and retention, the employer must have another influencer beyond money or further opportunity.” To achieve all that, buildings need to have the right amenities, but also be welcoming. Though an older property, John cites the Merchandise Mart, which he reps, as a property that’s been willing to update itself to be stickier. “When LuxeHome came to the first floor, that really opened things up,” he says, which is an important consideration because employees want that feeling of openness.
Rieke Office Interiors' Molly McKay and Angie Wallin with Chicagoland Chamber's Linda Dao
During the schmooze, we snapped Rieke Office Interiors' Molly McKay and Angie Wallin with Chicagoland Chamber's Linda Dao. All that action above is good for the interiors biz: Molly and Angie tell us that a lot of companies are redesigning now.
Golub Realty Services' Donley Klug and Jack Tunnicliff
We also caught up with Golub Realty Services' Donley Klug and Jack Tunnicliff, who tell us that recovery in downtown office leasing seems to be a sustained one.