The number of new office construction projects measuring more than 100,000 square feet may be in decline, but that doesn’t mean that companies aren’t thinking of new and innovative ways to build out the work space they already have.
That is one of the observations offered during a panel discussion sponsored by the Urban Land Institute at its spring meeting in Detroit.
The trend away from building massive office space has declined with the advent of cloud-based applications and wireless communications allowing increasingly larger number of employees to work off-site.
Mark Kapicak, program manager for IBM’s Real Estate Strategy and Operations, told the panelists that the company’s office space challenge is now centered on what tasks those employees who are still at the work site may be doing.
“It’s really about thinking differently about doing the work in that space,” Kapicak said.
Other panelists talked about encouraging employees to customize their own workspace needs, a trend that has seen some companies, in response, building food courts, coffee bars, and even exterior walking trails.
The notion of building what is being called “flexible space” is regarded as a new growth industry in office design and re-adaptation, noted several experts, with such space expected to comprise nearly 30 percent of the country’s total office space in the next decade.
In December the Chicago-based JLL, a commercial real estate services company, reported that the creation of flexible space has been growing at an average rate of 23 percent in recent years, accounting for more than 18 million square feet in just the last two years alone.
By Garry Boulard
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