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Office Space: A Game Of Keeping Up With The Millennials

It has been hard to pin down exactly what creative office space is, but a lot of tenants know it when they see it, making it critical for landlords to keep on top of the evolving ideas about creative office. The speakers at our Denver Office of the Future event offered their thoughts on the subject recently.


It is well-established that the shift to creative space has been driven by the way Millennials want to work, our creative office speakers said, but the devil is in getting the details right. There is a drive to integrate new amenities, including more home-like ones, in office space, but it is not always easy to figure out how to do that effectively. Successful creative office is now critical in finding and keeping employees in a lot of industries, compared with only a few years ago, when it was mostly a tech phenomenon.

Owners need to ask: What do they want to foster in that space? How can you set up a space that encourages collaboration? What elements should be emphasized? Landlords need to understand their tenants' needs — by meeting with them and getting their input by being good listeners — since they are vital to a building's ecosystem.


Denver in particular offers a good laboratory for creative office space, our speakers said. A lot of new space is being developed here, and it is more effective to include creative design elements during the planning phases than to add it later. Also, the influx of Millennials and the companies that employ them is bringing new ideas to town. 

But creative office is not a single thing. Some creative space is better for startups and entrepreneurs. It offers them the ecosystem they need to collaborate on new ideas and an environment that encourages new talent. Space to grow, but not just literal space.

Other creative space is co-working space designed to look and function something like a hotel, especially with concierge service. This appeals to more established companies and professionals who want a higher-end experience.


Employees want new space, and the newest developments in Denver, both urban and suburban, are doing well, according to our speakers. They also want view space, meaning above 20 floors, which is an advantage for taller urban core buildings.

Even so, older space can compete for tenants. Owners with '80s product have been busy keeping up with newer spaces by adding new lobbies and conference facilities, and updating common areas and floor plans, with a stress on open space, or a mix of space. Open space is in high demand, but most tenants also find it useful to have a private office or a private meeting component.  


The future of creative office space is tough to predict. The demand for high-quality office is not going to go away, both in the urban core and in the suburbs — especially the Southeast — regardless of how flexible work schedules become. It is going to remain a way for companies to differentiate themselves and attract and keep talent, who will still see offices as a useful place to be and interact with colleagues.

Class-B and C buildings might have a harder time in the years ahead, particularly if the economy slows and tenants either cannot pay their rents or can afford to trade up to Class-A as pressure on rents drive those rents down, our speakers said. Owners of these kinds of properties need to pay special attention to what tenants want, and provide it to the extent that their budget allows.


Equity Commonwealth vice president John Gallander also spoke, telling attendees about the building in which the event was held, the 675K SF 17th Street Plaza, of which 140K SF is available. The lobby has recently been renovated, he said, back to the original design that Skidmore, Owings & Merrill intended. The building also has a new conference center, and its fitness facility has been renovated. 17th Street Plaza also offers private office suites, about 700 SF to 3K SF, that are fully furnished, a concept Gallander said is in demand.