For The Workspace Of The Future, A Sense Of Place Is King
The rush is on in office development to provide more than effective shared workspace and more and better amenities, though those are important. What employers and their employees want is a sense of place in their office—a place they want to be.
Creating a sense of place is easier said than done, speakers explained at our Seattle Workplace of the Future event, but there's a lot that developers, architects, interior designers and even tenants themselves can do. A sense of place is about space that allows people to connect with each other and with their surroundings. An isolated person isn't going to feel that special sense of place, no matter how nice the amenities.
Connectivity is itself a little complicated. Open floorplans aren't the whole answer. There needs to be a balance between openness and privacy, between ambient sound and quiet, and it can be quite a trick.
Snapped: BuildPulse CEO and co-founder Brice Kosnik, who moderated, DLR Group Northwest region workplace sector leader Mark Ludtka, Touchstone VP Kristin Jensen, and SECO Development president Greg Krape.
Office space of the future is going to be small, at least in terms of square feet per person, the speakers noted. That trend is well-established and there's no going back. But it's critical to design space so that the higher density of workers isn't perceived as a cost-cutting measure made without regard to the quality of the workspace.
One way is to improve non-traditional work areas, such as outdoor space. Done correctly, outdoor space isn't just workspace, but an important amenity for workers.
Here's Paladino & Co director Dina Belon, who moderated, Unico regional director Andrew Cox, and Talon Private Capital senior leasing director Wende Miller.
Creating a sense of place isn't just the purview of new office projects, the panelists stressed. Existing office buildings can compete quite effectively in that regard, provided they take a thoughtful approach to what they already have—cool old design? a walkable location?—and how to augment their strengths.
It's important to remember that different tenants have different ideas about what they want from space. "One size misfits all," as participant Joslyn Balzarini deftly put it. So it's important for tenants to be active participants in creating their space and re-creating it later when their needs change.
Above are Unispace principal Aimee Collins, who moderated, B+H Architects interior design practice lead Joslyn Balzarini, Comfy president Lindsay Baker, and WeWork general manager Jon Slavet.
Co-working space is a burgeoning sector in the office world, our speakers said. Corporate America is embracing co-working, so the question becomes how to create co-working communities that work. It's a challenge the industry is more than willing to take up. The key for co-working space is picking locations where people want to be, and striking the right kind of long-term deals with landlords.