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As Businesses Rethink Office Needs, A Council Of Innovators Offers A Proactive Approach

Interior shot of CBRE's Hana coworking spot at LBA Realty's Park Place at 3347 Michelson Drive in Irvine.

With over half of American adults vaccinated, the buzz around the return to the office is heightening. Some employees are lobbying to continue working remotely, but others have found virtual meeting technologies to be limiting. Going forward, there is a need for some amount of in-person collaboration.

In addition to hybrid models of remote and in-office work, concerns surrounding health and safety are also factoring into employers’ plans to bring staff back to the office. With no definitive end date to the coronavirus pandemic, long-term office leases aren’t yet a viable commitment for all businesses. In response, many are turning to flexible workspaces

“Businesses shouldn’t be overly handcuffed by the previous metrics for office space that were based on five-to-10-year scales and the need for cubicles,” said Andrew Kao, vice president of product at flexible workspace provider Hana, a wholly owned subsidiary of CBRE. “Companies need to realize that they will try new approaches over the next 12 months and some won’t work. That’s how they’ll determine their success in the long run.”

To lay out a path for the future, Hana has formed a product council, Hana Innovation Partners, which includes tech giant Samsung, office furnishing providers Herman Miller and Muraflex and construction firm Structure Tone. In its newly released Ultimate Meeting Guide, HIP expands on how organizations will need to focus on health and safety, collaboration and communication, configurable meeting spaces and performance-driven workplace design when reorienting their offices. Workstations will no longer be a priority. Instead, the emphasis will be on zoned spaces that enable meeting rooms to function as dynamic work environments.

Creating adaptable office spaces by incorporating partitions and moveable furniture is a costly and risky endeavor as companies navigate the uncertain future of the workplace. Flexible workspaces provide companies with an opportunity to test-drive different office configurations before making major capital expenditures on architectural changes and construction.

“It’s not necessarily about how furniture can be reconfigured, but also the variety of settings available in the overall space,” said Jeff Gibson, vice president of commercial real estate sales at Herman Miller. “Different areas within an office should support the different activities that make up the workday and the workweek.” 

However, office design is only half of the equation. Location is also a significant component in bringing staff back to the office. Urban centers will remain an imperative for their access to transportation hubs, financial centers, talent pools and networking opportunities with other relevant businesses. 

High-growth organizations and large corporate users in need of meeting and event space in downtown Manhattan have turned to Hana’s 3 World Trade Center location for its flexible design, technology and amenity offerings and branding capabilities.

The coronavirus pandemic has also brought about a recognizable need for hub-and-spoke office solutions that give employees a more local option for going into work. Twenty-two miles west of New York City, Hana’s Round Table Studios at Connell Park in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, complements the 3 World Trade Center location. The suburban venue was designed with both flexibility and work-life balance in mind. Private workspaces and meeting rooms are designed for mid-to-large enterprise users and include access to outdoor workspaces, parks and walking trails.

“Urban centers will remain important, but smaller markets are also receiving growing recognition,” Kao said. “So, these types of suburban locations are also becoming vital.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Hana and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content. 

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