What Shrinking Offices Mean For Your Business Center

Office space
Office space

There’s been plenty of talk about the shrinking office in recent years, but is office space really shrinking and, if so, what does this mean for your business center?

First, yes, the average amount of office space per worker globally is shrinking. Specifically, it has declined from 225 square feet in 2010 to 150 square feet in 2013, according to a new CoreNet Global survey. That’s a petty dramatic shift in a fairly short period of time.

Now get this: Not only is office space per worker shrinking, companies are indicating that employment levels will increase in the second half of 2013. This is triggering what CoreNet calls a “property paradox,” in which more workers are using less individual space.

And here’s where your business center model comes in.

The survey underscores how today’s increasing mix of workers in the office and teleworking, assigned to team and individual projects, along with the rapid emergence of space-on-demand, coworking and other ‘third places,’ is combining to enable the balance of less space per office worker while more jobs are added. In other words, alternative workspaces are helping shrink the modern office.

So far as office space goes, the changes aren’t complete. According to CoreNet, slightly over half of the respondents project an average of 100 square feet or less per worker as the norm in five years. A leading factor is the monumental shift among corporate offices toward open space floor plans with fewer assigned cubes and assigned individual offices. In the survey, more than 80 percent of the respondents said their company has moved in this direction.

However, that trend too, may be reaching an endpoint. In the survey, 43 percent of the respondents say that they now have more collaborative space, than heads-down, private space where employees can focus. And that might be a problem: one-half of the respondents either agreed or said they were not sure if companies in general are over-building collaborative space at the expense of focus work and privacy (31 percent agreed; 19 percent not sure).

“Through this survey, and anecdotally, we are hearing of a ‘collaborative space bubble,’” says Richard Kadzis, vice president of Strategic Communications for CoreNet Global. “Just as we have escaped the ‘cube farms of Dilbertville,’ some employees may start to feel that the open-space pendulum has swung too far, at the expense of a worker’s ability to concentrate without interruption or distraction.”

And here again is where your business center model comes in.

Business centers are positioned to offer the best of all worlds. You can offer big offices, small offices, coworking space, virtual offices, hotdesks. Business centers can truly fill the one-space-fills-all bill by creating diversity within your walls. Some tenants may need complete privacy. You can offer that. Others may want more collaboration. You can offer that also.

“We advocate that corporate real estate and workplace executives approach workplace management as a holistic practice starting at the C-suite level,” Kadzis says. “Workplace strategy is no longer a singular function of real estate, but a product of taking into account the needs and demands of the business, and how real estate should work with human resources, information technology, finance and other support functions to support overall organizational planning.”

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