Using the Past to look to the future in Office Space
Things that affect the nature of office space:
- What everyone else is doing
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
When I started in early 2006, the market was nearing its peak. Revenue was up, credit was available, and business owners were trading in their old real estate for bigger, better, newer real estate.
Companies were designing their office spaces for the middle managers of the world: big private offices, window-less cube farms, suit-and-tie formal aesthetics, and corporate blue as far as the eye could see. The office was where you worked hard, made money, and impressed your clients. We believed the success and prosperity would continue into the future indefinitely.
Status was equated to space. If you’ve been there for a while you get a cubicle with a window. Your work area was equated to your status. It was how you were “compensated.” Now we have found different ways to keep our employees, you have amenities. It was just the “way things were” people did it that way.
THE DARK DAYS
Then everything came to a crashing halt.
I still remember the car ride with my father, and business partner, in the late summer of 2008 when we heard on the radio that Lehman Brothers had collapsed and employees were pouring out of their midtown Manhattan office building after being fired.
I look on this as the transition from the good old days to the dark days of real estate during the recession. Conversations with business owners changed from “bigger and better” to “batten down the hatches,” “conserve capital,” and “let’s worry about today because there may not be a tomorrow.” Real estate was viewed only as overhead, and the times were too dire to vainly spend money on customizing your office space. We were cranking out one-year lease renewals for our clients, and they were satisfied with cleaned carpets and touched-up, corporate blue paint so that they could live to fight another day.
“Let’s worry about today because there may not be a tomorrow.”
THE BRIGHT NEW DAYS
The commercial real estate market in Indianapolis has made a considerable recovery, and specifically in the office market, we are seeing a long-awaited increase in property values and rental rates.
Companies are now not simply viewing real estate as overhead, but as a tool that can be used to promote a brand, engage and retain employees, and drive more revenue. Business owners are now willing to spend a little extra to make sure that tool becomes exactly what they need and will stand the test of time. The mega-sized office with the twenty-foot-long mahogany desk is becoming an endangered species. I’m seeing much less corporate blue (thank goodness). We are working on projects to create office spaces with punch and personality that appeal to the new, younger employees in a company. The formal aesthetic is waning and making way for a casual, hospitable tone. The office is now where you find community and achieve your collective mission.
Obviously my observations of the past ten years are an oversimplification of where things were and where they are now. As a millennial, I have a bias as to which is good and which is bad. However, real estate is a significant tool to affect change in the life of an organization, and an analysis of the past is helpful to make sure we make good decisions for the future.
“An analysis of the past is helpful to make sure we make good decisions for the future.”
- What does the future hold for office space?
- What are the key factors motivating architectural and layout decisions?
- It working remotely going to change things? Or have we gotten over than now?
- What are your observations from the past ten years other than the millennial perspective?
- Are you still living in your “pre-‘09” office?