Cubicle farms are being replaced with open-concept work spaces built on the promises of better transparency and collaboration. Google made the move first, and corporate America quickly followed.
But in my experience (after working in a fairly open workspace for years), very few employees would pick sitting at a long table with no privacy from their colleagues – or management – when given the choice. The intentions behind this concept are good, but in reality, fall very short of expectations.
Yet the move to open workplaces speaks volumes about the changing dynamics of how, when and where we work. Most people can work from home or a location other than their office with little-to-no loss of productivity or functionality. In fact, there’s a growing number of employees who spend the majority of their work days away from the office, only coming in for 1-2 days a week or even more sporadically.
Offices need to have more flexible environments: smaller spaces for group collaboration, seating for visitors and employees who do not primarily work from one location or another, and spaces that can fill more than one purpose.
This all has tremendous implications for commercial property management and commercial real estate, especially building owners and operators, property managers and facility managers. Tenants need easier ways to request space changes. Perhaps there need to be more common areas available to tenants for different purposes. Space designs need to evolve, especially if you want to attract the companies that are redefining what corporate America is.
Buildings being developed today will inevitably have the upper hand – as they typically do when it comes to all things new and shiny – but don’t count out the incumbents.