The Future of the Office is Right Now
The future of office space is being determined by companies like Hulu, who are redefining their space now. (As long as they keep those re-runs of Scandal coming, they can work in any type of office they like.) We're excited to have Hulu head of real estate and facilities Sara Mailloux speak about the streaming giant's new space at our Bisnow Office of the Future event at the gen2 building on Sept. 30.
Sara, snapped with her LA Hulu team, tells us that the company designs our spaces around open-seating neighborhoods, no larger than 60 Hulugans per neighborhood (yes, that’s a real term for Hulu employees). Spaces are aimed to achieve ease of daily adjacencies and quick collaboration, while still enabling people to complete focused work at their workstations. Also, Hulu has a ratio of one conference room per seven people, at varying sizes, directly adjacent to the neighborhoods for ease of access.
There are soundproof game rooms and informal gathering spaces throughout the offices for taking breaks, long or short, Sara says. And the inspiration for the game rooms can sometimes come from unlikely sources, such as Sara’s Spark mentees, two middle school students, who designed two of the game rooms at Hulu. “We believe, and have received data from our team supporting, the right mix focused work, collaborative work, and break-time results in productivity, and a pretty fun place to be,” she tells us.
Friedman Stroffe & Gerard attorney Jennifer Stroffe, who will moderate, tells us that law firms have been slow to warm up to the features generally associated with the office of the future, especially open space to the exclusion of private offices. There are solid professional reasons for that, since confidentiality is a cornerstone of the practice of law. But the industry is adopting elements of the creative office, as those features are shown to improve productivity and efficiency. “It’s going to take time,” she says. “We’re a cautious industry, and we want to make sure this isn’t a passing trend.” Jennifer’s pictured on a recent trip to Greece to visit extended family in the town of Agia Anna on the island of Evia.
Law offices probably won’t ever be completely open, but elements such as open break rooms, or rooms for napping or nursing, will be incorporated into many offices in the not-too-distant future (in that sense, noted prairie lawyer A. Lincoln was ahead of his time, with a couch in his office on which to lie down and read). Jennifer hasn’t heard of a law firm with a game room yet, “but I can see that happening. Law firms aren’t as conservative as they used to be.” She expects the Office of the Future panel to take up the question of exactly what goes into an “office of the future”—and whether the term “creative office” has been beaten to death—and how much of it, if any, is indeed a passing trend.
Hughes Marino director Tucker Hughes, another one of our panelists, tells us that “creative office” is a hard term to pin down and that there’s a misconception it only means open environments and benching stations and noise that runs rampant. But he believes that a creative office is actually one that promotes a sense of community and culture, whatever the configuration. “It manifests itself in many ways,” he says. One of the most common characteristics is less dedicated office space per person—though that doesn’t necessarily mean that office space users are taking less total space, as sometimes is reported. “Instead, companies are very often re-inventing the space previously dedicated to offices or desks or cubicles as common spaces,” Tucker explains.
Tucker plans to talk about his company’s creative office space. He says that Hughes Marino is proud to have been selected by the OC Business Journal as the No. 1 place to work in the county among companies its size, and one of the main reasons is its office space and the community that space helps create. “It’s mostly open space, but all of our brokers have their own offices,” he says. “We don’t believe that a completely open space works for professional services firms—those talking or meeting with clients most of the day—because of the sound pollution issue.” But that doesn’t mean Hughes Marino’s space is without fun features, such as a piano, pool table, ping-pong table, interactive art, and events like Fun Thursday.
Our panel will also discuss office-of-the-future redevelopments that are happening now. This week, Irvine-based Bixby Land Co closed on the acquisition of four San Diego office buildings in two separate deals totaling nearly $22M. It’s an effort to expand its creative office holdings in California, according to Bixby CEO Bill Halford (above). This is the firm’s first move into San Diego creative office after being active in that sphere in LA, OC, and Silicon Valley, and it plans to redesign and reposition the assets to incorporate creative components. Bixby SVP Arron Hill will be participating in our event.
Three of the buildings, totaling 58k SF, are at Mira Mesa Business Park in Sorrento Mesa, one of San Diego’s tech submarkets. Bixby plans to spend $6.5M to completely redo the assets, installing new glazing, new lobbies, upgraded elevators, and full landscaping and signage renovation over the next six months. The redevelopment also will create three separate Bixby Retreat outdoor amenities areas, a feature that the company has put into Silicon Valley holdings, which it says are quite popular with tenants. In Kearney Mesa, Bixby plans to spend $10M to reposition 9797 Aero Dr, add space to it, and install a Bixby Retreat. Come hear more about these buildings and more at Bisnow's Office of the Future event at the gen2 building on Sept. 30, starting at 8am. Sign up here.