Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Office Space: Your Place or Mine

Lately, there has been much talk about the future of office space–its size, shape and relevance. In this semi-post-recession time, where technology makes connectivity possible from almost anywhere, is a physical office still necessary?

On Monday, I visited with the head of property development for a major national company and the topic came up. What will offices and schedules look like in the future? We discussed several theories:

Virtual offices: Telecommuting; Remote work locations.
Sharing: Hot desking.
Flexible Time: Work shifting.
Minimalism: Small, smaller, smallest; Less is more; Fewer square feet per individual.

The average office space per person in Europe measures about 100 sf or less. Predictions are that about half of U.S. companies will be running this ratio in just a few years. The end game: Companies are trying to use less workspace, making it more inviting and more collaborative. 

That’s a good thing because, given their preference long-term, it seems workers prefer to go to the office, despite a move toward flexible work and telecommuting. Office space has its benefits:

  • Most employees enjoy interaction with colleagues in the office.
  • Offices allows us to connect on a face-to-face human level, which most of us like and need.
  • It allows more seasoned professionals on the team to mentor the younger crowd.
  • Beyond support, office space creates an environment of collaboration and innovation–a professional community.
  • People, especially the GenY generation, want feedback and the ability to work in teams.
  • Better tools and technology are available at the office.
  • Physical space is an important part of corporate branding.

What works for your team? What direction are you seeing in office needs?

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.