Creative Office - What Is It and Is It for Me?

October 16, 2017


Professionals are collaborating and sharing knowledge like never before, from brainstorming to execution and implementation. They are working in pods, having impromptu meetings in the kitchen, and brainstorming in “huddle” or “war” rooms. I've previously written about 3 global trends that were shaping the commercial real estate industry—Globalization, Demographics, and Technology. When we take a closer look at how these megatrends are forcing developers and investors to adapt, the rise of creative office is a perfect example. The workplace must adapt to working from anywhere, connecting with multiple offices, functionality within the office itself, and attracting and retaining top talent.


By 2020, millennials will make up 40-50% of the working population. Although not every millennial wants to work at a startup, their wants are very different than previous generations. Conventionally, private offices were located along the window line and reserved for senior-level management, principals, and partners. The shift towards creative work space limits the number of offices and moves them toward the core or interior of the building. Additionally, cubicles have virtually disappeared from these environments and have been replaced by couches, bench-style seating, and “huddle” or “break-out” areas. Aesthetically, bright colors, chalkboard walls, natural light, polished concrete floors, brick or wood finishes, and exposed ceilings are common characteristics of a creative office environment.


Millennials are still finding their place among Boomers and Gen X’ers in the workplace, but one thing we Millennials have over the rest is we never quit. The 9-5 became the 8-6 which eventually became 24/7, as employers and employees adapted to globalization and technology. As a millennial myself, I consider myself an “early bird” and prefer my work day to be from 7am-6pm. I have developed my routine and lifestyle around these hours; however, I routinely work with and collaborate with other professionals that prefer an 11am-10pm work day, and nobody bats an eye at a 3am email. Work-life balance is no longer about keeping it even, but a seamless integration between the two. In response to a 24/7 lifestyle, workspaces, business centers and office complexes are beginning to look like living environments complete with gyms, game rooms, sleep zones, and pantries stocked with food next to a refrigerator full of your favorite beers and wines.


A properly constructed progressive office environment enables all employees to contribute and feel essential. A recent study found millennials key priorities to be family, community, and creativity. In an office environment, this translates to a strong brand, space to be proud of, and room to grow. Tenants want a space that reflects their brand, operational style, and business objectives. As a broker, it is my job to introduce this concept to clients and explain the pros and cons. Creative and progressive office environments are not for every business. For those who foresee their company benefiting from this concept, I begin with strategic planning which includes employee interviews, functionality and operational objectives, space design, budgets, and timelines.


A progressive and creative workplace supports and recognizes the value of employees’ health, wellness, and life outside of work. Companies that recognize and accept this movement will surely give themselves an edge over their competition by not only attracting and retaining the best talent, but also incurring decreased occupancy costs from a more efficient workplace and increased morale among the employee base. 


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