Despite the growth of open floor plans and creative workspaces, the U.S. office environment has been curiously resistant to change in recent decades. Many workers across the country still toil away in cubicle-oriented space, which was designed without regard to actual human beings. Wikimedia/Zonaspace Christopher Kelly, a co-founder of workplace hospitality platform Convene, writes in Forbes that commercial real estate professionals need to forget “office” and think “workplace.” The workplace of today is already moving beyond the need to create proximity between people, which traditionally was the entire function of an office because it facilitated work. With people more connected today than ever, offices of the future will need to be about much more than proximity.
The new purpose of a workplace is to attract and retain the best talent. Broadly speaking, companies are revamping offices in five major ways: 1. Flexible environments. The office used to promote linear and hierarchical workflow. Now it needs to be a place where employees choose their work environment, based on what needs to be done. 2. More empathy. Smart buildings will not be that smart until they are empathetic, too. They will need to anticipate and respond to the needs of tenants as individuals. 3. Redefined amenities. Buildings will need cafés, lunchtime classes, lounge areas, flexible meeting spaces and more. These will not be extras or frills, but mandatory for tenant acquisition. 4. Individualized workplace design. Commercial real estate pros will be expected to help companies of all sizes design their workspace to suit their needs and be a strategic tool to drive growth. 5. Changing role for heads of real estate. The head of real estate for a company will need to orchestrate workplace environments and experiences to maximize employee engagement, and thus productivity.
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