Is the Office Going to Disappear?
Despite the widespread popularity of work-from-home culture, the office isn’t going to vanish. Businesses still need a place where colleagues and clients can come together, connect, collaborate, and build relationships.
Even more than connectivity, companies need offices in order to establish their professional identity. The reason working from home is working right now is because employees are functioning on the norms, relationships and practices that were instilled in the office pre-pandemic. To maintain or change that culture, you still need a physical presence.
With that said, the office will not look the same as it did before COVID-19. It will require a bit of a facelift, and new trends in the office landscape have already started to emerge.
Post-Pandemic Office Space Trends
Trend: Low-Rise Suburban Office Buildings
Much like city-dwellers who opted out of crowded apartment buildings in favor of private homes during the pandemic, companies are realizing they also want out of high-rise office buildings. Not only do businesses have less control over their environment in these large buildings, but everything takes longer. With social distancing guidelines in place, employees must wait longer for elevators in parking garages and buildings, and as well as temperature checks and screening in lobbies.
Low-rise office buildings, on the other hand, offer fewer people, and – perhaps more importantly – they often include coveted outdoor space and separate entrances. As a result, commercial real estate agents from Boston to Los Angeles are noticing an uptick in demand for low-rise office parks, like the Lakeside Park. Located in a park-like setting on Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield MA, the suburban office park is becoming more desirable than office space in Boston proper.
Trend: Smaller, Satellite Offices
Smaller offices limit the number of people, and provide clear boundaries for social distancing, which is why many businesses are now turning to executive office suites that offer turnkey-style packaging. With their flexible terms, low up front move in costs and affordable rates, businesses are able to refocus on work rather than maintenance and cleaning. However, instead of just one small office, the trend is toward leasing multiple small offices throughout a city or geographical region.
In this “hub-and-spoke” model, a business might have one office in downtown Boston, and several satellite offices located in more suburban areas where their employees live. This model offers an added benefit of contingency options in the event of a power outage, traffic disruption or natural disaster, and it cuts down on commuting and pollution, while promoting flexibility and a better work-life balance. It can also bring companies closer to their clients and customers, as well as job seekers and other talent pools. For instance, moving a company’s tech-related operations into a small office near a city’s startup community can help foster connections and attract talent.
Trend: Coworking Spaces
The trend toward smaller offices and a “hub-and-spoke” approach to office locations has also accelerated the growth of coworking communities, which provide individuals and organizations with flexible shared office space and short-term leases. Coworking communities inherently offer businesses the ideal solution for establishing a distributed network of satellite offices. And the office model offers a host of benefits and employee perks.
By sharing overhead costs with other organizations and individuals, and taking advantage of IT infrastructure that’s already in place, companies can decrease their expenses and streamline the office space setup. In addition, these mixed-use coworking communities foster cross-industry collaboration and networking opportunities between organizations, as well as provide employees with on-site access to other convenience businesses, such as daycare, dry cleaners, salons and gyms.
Employees & Businesses Ready to Return to the Office
While home-based offices remain a viable solution for a wide range of industries and job roles, for still many more it is an option of last resort. For those employees and businesses ready to return to the office, the Lakeside Park is here to help with the transition.