Inside the Creative Office Craze
A catalytic convergence of densification, collaboration and technology has pushed creative office space to new heights. And it’s not just for tech firms anymore, which is why we’re hosting Bisnow’s Chicago Creative Office Summit on Jan. 28 at Willis Tower, starting at 7am. Meet some of our panelists:
Buy-In's Key: Brad Serot
CBRE EVP Brad Serot (just back from skiing with the family in Denver) recently went through a major creative makeover himself at 321 N Clark, CBRE’s new futuristic digs (below) with “less me space and more we space.” The secret to the two-year process was getting company buy-in to the idea of an open, collaborative work environment, he says. Everyone’s a little scared of change, but with committees and subcommittees employees all felt like they had a hand in designing the new space. Technology like electronic room reservation systems has been a huge help, he says, allowing people more ways to work within their space than before.
Brad’s client VisaNow is moving its office from River North to the West Loop and transitioning into an open environment (even the president and CEO will have a workstation). But you don’t need loft space to be creative, Brad says, and you don’t necessarily have to go the full mile if your company doesn’t have the budget. Small changes to technology, furniture, light and air can make a huge difference in fostering happy, motivated employees. Looking forward, Brad expects an increase in fitness and wellness programs around the office, as people work longer hours and employers make health a priority.
Even You Can Be Creative: Enrique Suarez
Harley Ellis Devereaux managing principal Enrique Suarez (just back from exploring the Miami Design District over the holidays) says even large, corporate, institutional clients are learning from creative office design in terms of communication and intra-discipline collaboration. But it’s important the space design brings a fresh perspective that reflects the DNA of the company (since even creative space can become formulaic). HED starts the design process with deep-dive design charrettes, envisioning the space from the perspective of both team members and clients. For Garrett Popcorn’s HQ that led to the popcorn shop as inspiration for features like graffiti walls (below) and full kitchens.
More traditional Northern Trust has also embraced free address seating and benching, Enrique says, adding small meeting rooms in addition to the traditional 10-person conference room to give people more opportunities to work together. This move toward density, micro spaces and community is not just an office trend, Enrique says, and should be considered on a larger scale within the built environment and how people like to live/work today. Apartments are shrinking as amenitized communal spaces grow outside of the home, and the “sharing community” includes everything from rides to co-working to shared kitchens for chefs. (Notice a trend?)
Creative Engineering: Nathan Snydacker
Offices need to move from being a place to touch down to a place employees want to spend the day (instead of their local Starbucks), says ESD VP Nathan Snydacker, and the trend’s gone well beyond tech firms. Nathan even has a financial services client considering a move from big wooden desks and private offices to a more open, modular space. Heating and cooling these larger spaces can be easier than smaller zones, but when you start removing ceilings for the currently favored “loft look,” you can find hidden conditions along the perimeter (especially in older buildings) like gaps in the walls or subpar insulation, he says.
A robust wireless network is key these days, making it easier to work as you walk from space to space without reconnecting to a port. Nathan also sees huge potential for power over Ethernet lighting. With offices moving to LED lights, the power draw is so low that you can power through cabling like you would with a telephone. It will make a huge impact outside of Chicago with the ability to run cabling as opposed to copper wire and conduit to all the light fixtures, he says. Nathan’s loving this snow and excited to go sledding with his 3-year-old and 6-year-old. Get your event tix here!