Office's Next Iteration Will Push Boundaries Of Flex Space
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The co-working and flexible office trend exploded this year, with new providers entering the sector at an aggressive pace. But next year's office design is expected to push beyond basic flexible office functions.
For niche flexible office provider Servcorp, 2017 revealed the need for additional co-working services. Servcorp will spend $30M to bring its co-working model to 50 of its locations globally, including eight in the U.S. It will renovate its reception areas to be more approachable, while also maintaining its premium feel.
Co-working is expanding throughout the country and has become a legitimate option for startups to secure workspace without being tied to long leases. It also is creating a model for landlords to provide additional services and flexibility.
Bisnow spoke with Servcorp Chief Operating Officer Marcus Moufarrige to learn more about the trends that will not only impact flex office providers, but also building owners in 2018.
More Service-Oriented Landlords
Commercial real estate has been very inflexible for many years and landlords are moving toward providing more flexible options backed by a service-oriented culture as a way to create higher yields, Moufarrige said.
“People are willing to pay a bit more for [service],” Moufarrige said.
He said CRE will move away from just offering concrete boxes where tenants sign up for 10 years and send a check every month. Service could come in the form of adding a flexible workspace operator or implementing amenities through smart building tech.
Smart Building Tech Implementation
Despite the number of smart tech apps exploding in the proptech market, there has been little implementation of this tech. Just adapting fiber in a building can be an arduous task, Moufarrige said. But building owners are starting to understand the benefits of additional tech infrastructure.
Moufarrige said many landlords will start implementing PropTech in 2018, which will also allow for additional services within offices. Tenants will have the ability to connect to a building whether it be through an app that allows for climate control or one that lets workers dim the lights in their work area. This tech will allow tenants to have better input on energy usage and consumption as well.
Even More Flexible Work Options
While tech revolutionized the open-office plan, many companies began to receive pushback from employees complaining about noise, lack of privacy and additional distractions. Companies realized that some workers, like those in payroll, needed offices, Moufarrige said.
The pendulum is swinging back to a middle option, activity-based working, Moufarrige said. That will mean designing more spaces based on a specific team's outcome. Twitch, Pinterest and Uber all have been working toward designing offices based on what individual teams need.
Additional options for workers also will grow as employers realize their workers do not always need to be in the office to do their tasks. That could mean working from home, working while traveling or working in between different offices.
The addition of different technologies has allowed employees to work more virtually, while still remaining connected to the rest of the organization, Moufarrige said.
“The workforce can be anywhere,” Moufarrige said.
Office Design As Company Culture
Company culture is increasingly becoming an important part of decision-making. Companies are reconsidering office design and how it is a reflection of the company itself.
Previously, companies would pick whatever office would be affordable, and did not give much thought to what the office itself actually represented to the company and how that office could be used to target young professionals. Just like how a company’s dress code, be it jeans and a blazer or a suit and tie, represents company culture, so too will modern offices, Moufarrige said.
This means companies are paying closer attention to an office’s decorum, the address and the first impression that office makes to a potential customer or client. Airbnb, for example, decorated its offices depending on the city in which the office is located. Twitch's new office at 350 Bush will include conference rooms that are themed after gaming elements.
“[Office design] is becoming more of a science,” Moufarrige said.