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Four Post-Cubicle Office Trends

Chicago Office

Today's souped up office spaces are offering unprecedented flexibility. That's why we're excited to talk workplace trends at Bisnow’s Property Management & Office of the Future event on Aug. 28.


Wright Heerema’s Roger Heerema and Behringer Harvard’s Mike Reilly, two of our panelists, tell us what they're seeing:

1) The desktop is no longer a ball and chain.

With wireless ubiquity, employees are no longer tethered to their work stations, says Roger, above. (He doesn't like to be tethered either; he's fresh off a 100-mile bike ride with his son in Michigan.) That’s led to building owners investing millions into well-located amenity packages (fitness center, lobby, conference room, roof deck, WiFi lounge, etc.) to complement tenants’ dense spaces. It adds value to the property and allows landlords to charge more for less space, Roger says. But before your company makes the switch, consider what a more open, collaborative environment means for IT policies, HR, and security, Roger cautions.

2) Sustainability is here to stay.


It's evident across TIER REIT’s 3.3M SF Chicago area portfolio (which Mike, above, manages). 222 S Riversize Plaza just earned LEED Silver, and 440 S LaSalle earned LEED Gold last week. The entire TIER REIT portfolio is also Energy Star benchmarked, he says. While environmentally friendly efforts don't always correlate to higher rents, changing technologies are already allowing for significant operating cost savings for ownership, Roger says. For example, the move from incandescent and fluorescent lighting to LED means countless more lighting design possibilities for a fraction of the operating cost.

3) While spec's on fire, build-to-suits still have pull.


Spec suites between 3,000 SF and 6,000 SF are a hot commodity in TIER REIT’s buildings, Mike says, attracting smaller office tenants. Since they’re not building closed offices, most companies are in industries that don’t need a lot of privacy. Mike’s seen interest from insurance agencies, financial services, placement agencies, head hunters, and small accounting firms. But there will always be firms with needs far too specific for plug-and-play space. Roger’s working on the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' build-to-suit (above) in Rosemont, which includes an orthopedic learning center where surgeons train on cadavers. (The walk-through isn't for weak stomachs.)

4) Density’s tough on operating expenses.


Most Chicago area office buildings were built for 250 SF to 300 SF/person, but corporate America is striving to crunch that number below 100 SF/person, which puts additional strain on existing building systems and operating expenses, Mike says. Infrastructure changes will require sizable time and capital investments, he tells us, but they’re necessary to stay competitive. At 222 S Riverside Plaza (above), owner TIER REIT is retrofitting the elevators with a destination dispatching system, which is up to 25% more efficient than a normal “2 button” system, especially useful for buildings where tenants arrive in waves from commuter trains. Mike just spent his 25th wedding anniversary bicycling around Traverse City with his bride Fran, and recently had a wading pool full of ice water dumped on his head in the name of ALS awareness. Get your Aug. 28 event tix here!