What Do Businesses Need in Office Space? Ask One of Boston’s Largest Employers

Skyline - Downtown Boston
Skyline - Downtown Boston

PricewaterhouseCoopers is stepping into the office of the future – and it offers clues to how your business center may evolve in the 21st century.

The professional services firm – and one of Downtown Boston’s largest employers – just inked a 15-year lease with Skanska Commercial Development. PwC is committing to a massive block of space – 33,000 square feet, to be exact – in a new building to be constructed at Seaport Square in Boston’s Innovation District. The firm will take down 75 percent of the office space.

“As our business and the businesses of our clients continue to evolve, we recognize that technology and the workforce of the future will change the way we work,” says Barry Nearhos, managing partner for PwC Boston. “The new office design reflects this, emphasizing teaming, personal flexibility and efficiency. When we move, we will be a larger workforce that works smarter using less physical space.”

According to Nearhos, the new office space layout will enhance team collaboration and offer “touch down desks” throughout all floors to cater to the mobile worker and aid in client service delivery. The building will also be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including an innovative training floor with the latest media sharing and collaboration tools.

There are ideas here your business center can glean from. The touch down desks are already a part of some business center models, but with the rising mobile workforce, touch down desks could become a larger part of the business center mix in major metros. State-of-the-art technology is part and parcel of the most competitive business centers today, and will become an even greater competitive differentiator in the future.

There’s also the eco-friendly trend. PwC is committed to reducing its carbon footprint at its new office space. The firm is having its new space built with energy efficiency in mind. Sustainable materials and furnishings will be used throughout the office space and the architectural design will include energy efficient windows, while still allowing ample natural light and expansive ocean views on all floors. Skanska and PwC will strive for Platinum LEED certification for both the exterior and interior space, respectively, once the build-out is complete.

Few business centers industry-wide bill themselves as green, but the trend is catching on. Although business centers don’t have control over what their building owners do, you can choose to locate in a green office building. If that’s not possible, you can put green measures in place, like energy-efficient lighting and recycling programs.

Of course, part of the office of the future model takes into account location. In PwC’s case, the company is locating its 3,000 employees into a custom-designed workspace that offers appealing traffic and commuting options in one of the highest traffic cities in the nation. The location also offers fast access to Logan International Airport and is close to where its employees work and where its clients are located.

Most businesses are not PricewaterhouseCoopers. They can’t afford to start from scratch and set up their ideal office space. But they will be looking for as close to perfect as possible. Business center owners and operators should take note of the emerging need for companies to have green, well located spaces that offer up flexibility for the increasing mobility of their employees.

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Image source: Y. Sawa, Wikimedia Commons

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