The world of work – or at least the world of the workspace – is undergoing a major evolution as a result of a changing workforce, technology, and the twists and turns of the modern economy. As a result, the commercial real estate market is also seeing a shift in demand due to how that space is utilized.
Advances in technology have allowed workers, particularly those in Generation Y and Z (who are most comfortable with tech), to be exponentially more mobile and more connected. This freedom and adaptability means an increasing number employees are able to work from home, the car, a hotel, or the neighborhood coffeehouse.
Similarly, economic changes have forced workers to meet financial challenges by adapting their approach to work. In the absence of full-time employment, they have embraced temporary or contractual work to help make ends meet. One leading analyst has referred to this as the “Gig Economy.”
In the course of the CRE revolution, cubicles have been torn down and corner offices dismantled. Instead, floor plans embrace open and collaborative spaces, with areas dedicated to small groups and focused work away from the maddening office crowd.
The end result of this design shift is a smaller footprint for many businesses. Mobile workers, it seems, don’t necessarily need their own in-house office. They merely need a place to log on while in the office.
A recent study found that workers in non-traditional employer/employee relationships grew from 10% in 2005 to 16% in 2015. To put these numbers in another perspective, between 2003 and 2008, 118 square feet was dedicated for each new office worker. By 2012, that number had dropped to 60 square feet.
The new workspace model, according to the World Economic Forum, means streamlining and cost savings for businesses, from small to large, start-up to established. For example, Aetna –which has long embraced telecommuting as a means of retaining employees – has reduced its office space by 2 million square feet, generating a savings of $78 million. In addition, its 1.3 million square-foot “office park of the future” was shut down and demolished.
Other companies, however, have brought back employees from the field. Yahoo, for one, believes that many great ideas are born in hallways and cafeterias – a nod to the strength of collaboration, or at least collaborative spaces in overall office design.
In a world in which concepts like Airbnb and Uber have become commonplace, it’s very likely that similar innovations will impact the CRE market.
Mature markets, it’s believed, may have seen a peak in rents. As commercial demands have changed, landlords have begun to lower rents or to consider possibilities that would have seemed taboo ten years ago.
One such idea is co-location or shared work environments, a concept that’s ideal for smaller companies, those that lack capital, or those that seek to avoid non-negotiable items, such as furniture. Rather than leasing their own spaces, these companies may be interested in sharing the same location, or at least the collaborative meeting areas within that space.
Two companies spearheading the co-location phenomena are Büro, based in South Florida, and WeWork, with shared locations around the world. By providing fast Internet services, stylish furnishings, conference rooms, monthly events, and a host of other office amenities, both companies are able to bring small businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers together to create a work community that’s inspiring and collaborative. Currently, Büro has more than 300 companies sharing workspaces across the Miami area.
Similarly, as companies crisscross the country for deals that best meet their new needs, there will inevitably be a void in the locations that were vacated. To help fill these voids, it will be necessary to do what tech companies have done all along: to think outside of the box.
South Florida continues to provide opportunity for CRE. The combination of weather, innovation, a vibrant multicultural workforce, low taxes, and new and improving properties are tremendous commercial benefits.
For a free consultation about CRE and shared work environment opportunities in the area, contact the Morris Southeast Group today at 954.474.1776 or reach out to Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.