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A different thought pattern about the future of office space

Every year, I look forward to the publication of Emerging Trends in Real Estate®. The publication is the work of PwC and ULI and is extraordinarily researched. The 2018 edition is one of the best in years for its discussion of workplace trends and generational trends.

At Wally & Co., we provide advice about space design trends that enhance recruiting and retaining the best employees and identify space planners who excel at creating those spaces. Yet, workplace design success is a moving target. We think we have just begun to know what millennials want in the workplace, and along comes new research that Generation Z wants something different.

Below are some interesting quotes from this year’s report. The first is about “space compression” as the dominant trend:

In recent years, office design has taken another approach. Space compression has been accepted as the most prominent trend, modulated by the provision of “creative commons” areas where office workers can move away from their solitary tasks for more interaction with coworkers.

But space compression is being hotly debated as more and more research concludes that being able to work anywhere, thanks to digital mobility, may harm productivity:

It is not just the configuration of the office, but its superiority as a workplace that is being evaluated afresh. The rethinking of optimal office work is leading even tech sector companies to question their commitment to telework, exactly because the expected cost savings have not translated into sufficient business growth. A recent discussion by one such corporate decision maker in the computer field notes that “putting workers in the same physical space hastens the speed of work and sparks innovation.”

Regarding generation Z:

Research into gen Z workplace preferences indicates that this generation will be distinct from their millennial precursors …. Workplace design needs to think of generation Z on its own terms. Where millennials were all about collaborative workspace, the more competitive and more easily distracted generation Z needs and wants more structure. A soundbite comment reported by SHRM is that “35 percent of gen Z would rather share their socks than their office space.”

All of this underscores our philosophy that now, more than ever, your firm must engage a space planning firm that will intensively collaborate with you about what workplace design your firm requires to win the talent war.

Regardless of when your lease expires, let’s meet so I can learn more about your business, your recruiting and retention challenges, and your real estate goals. Ultimately, I hope to demonstrate why tenants matter at Wally & Co.

Chris Wally