Key considerations for shared office spaces

The last segment of our three-part blog series focuses on shared office spaces and amenities. Today’s workforce continues to evolve as the next generation comes on board. With these changes are the evolving expectations of the average American worker; it is a well-known fact that employee retention is one the of most challenging tasks all employers face. Because of that, more and more companies are offering a variety of amenities in their workspaces to maintain these happy employees as well as attract new talent. However, not all office design trends are successful.

Based on our teams’ experience with office environment projects and our overall knowledge of trends in the industry, there are a number of factors which come into play as a new office environment is designed.

Location, location, location
The idea of providing enticing amenities in shared office buildings is a growing trend but before adding all the options available, the location of the building and its surroundings need to be evaluated. The key to choosing amenities that will get the best return on investment, is providing things that tenants aren’t able to access nearby. For example, if there is a gym three blocks from the building then occupants likely won’t utilize one in their office building. If the space is located in a suburban area with limited restaurants within walking distance, it could be beneficial to offer a shared food hall to give tenants convenient options. Focus on what the location of the building cannot provide, and look towards ways the shared spaces in the building can provide these amenities.

Community spaces
Community spaces are becoming popular because it connects tenants in the building and encourages a feeling of belonging. There are several ways to create a community space whether it’s a coffee bar, shared conference room or rooftop patio, each of these gives tenants a place to connect with one another. A shared conference room not only connects tenants on a personal level, but it may even open the door for a business relationship to evolve. This space also allows smaller tenants to have access to a larger conference room they may not have room for in their office.

A rooftop space is one amenity that seems to be trending in both urban and even suburban areas. This is a big draw for many employees, especially with the incoming generation, because it gives the opportunity for an outdoor space to unplug and recharge. Plus, there are additional opportunities for a rooftop space and the possibility for bonus income. Not only can the space be used for internal, building-wide events but there is also the opportunity to lease the space for external events which could net additional income for the owner. Especially in urban areas, rooftop event spaces are in high demand.

“Resimercial” look and feel
Beyond amenities, the overall look and feel of office environments is also changing. Tenants are looking for a design that blends hospitality and residential elements as opposed to the traditional, standard corporate environment. Many tenants seek things that feel more comfortable such as furnishings that would be found in one’s home or more unique lighting features which could be featured in an upscale hotel. The use of space in office environments is also trending to this “resimercial” idea with more inviting meeting spaces and workstations that provide a blend of collaborative and focus “heads down” opportunities to work. Offering a variety of ways employees can work in the office gives them the choice to choose what works best for them based on the tasks they are performing. The key is providing not only a comfortable space but one that is aesthetically pleasing in design as well.

These are some of the most common trends we’re seeing in today’s evolving office environments. As with most projects, we have found timing to be of the utmost importance. In a ground up office project, it’s ideal to have the complete scope of these shared amenities up front to avoid costly mistakes. For remodel projects, adding shared spaces gets more complicated because of the necessary security for entrances/exits and the location of elevators and stairs – especially if a rooftop space is desired. Trends in office environments will continue to grow and evolve with the everchanging workforce and our office innovation team will be ready to solve any new challenges for our clients.

About the authors:

Pilar Wiley, IIDA, graduated from Kansas State University with her Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design. Pilar joined BRR in 2005 and has worked on a number of project types, including corporate interiors, theaters and retail. She has been involved in all aspects of the design process, from conceptual to construction administration, and her role on each project is to execute space planning and interior design in concert with the overall design concept for the building. She works through all stages of the process, including Programming, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Construction Administration, FF&E and Specifications. Email her.

Kelsey Sundet, AIA, LEED GA, graduated from Minnesota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design and has Masters of Architecture and Community & Regional Planning degrees from Iowa State University. Kelsey is an account lead for our office environment team, and oversees the design, production and construction administration for projects nationwide. She is well versed in remodel, adaptive re-use, new construction and tenant improvement projects, ranging from 3,000 to up to 100,000 s.f. She has worked with both local and national brands building client relationships and leads a team on a day-to-day basis to implement solutions around the requirements and challenges specific to office environment project types. Email her.