What’s going on at the office? Well, for one thing, there is a whole lot of office space under construction in Greater Phoenix. Healthy job growth is helping drive steady office space construction. The second quarter of 2018 saw nearly 2.7 million square feet being built and , more than 80 percent is taking place in Chandler and Tempe. Such growth will continue as the Valley’s office vacancy rate remains low, 20 percent. But what kind of offices are being built? And will all these hot trends stick around or face being “let go.”
Give me wide open (office) space
By far the biggest trend in office space construction is the emergence of the “collaborative work environment.” These offices feature wide open spaces with no partitions. No assigned desks, just employees, freed from bonds of a cubicle, choosing where they want to work. In the last 20 years the open office space idea has gone viral. According to Inc. Magazine, as of 2017, seventy percent of U.S. offices had low or no partitions.
In the collaborative work space, people can move the furniture around easily to gather in small groups or find a nook from which to work solitarily. Such open spaces are designed to foster creativity and the sharing of ideas. They also appeal to millennials who would rather run monthly reports from their laptop while sitting in a bean bag chair than a traditional desk..
The Un- office: Am I at work or at home?
Which brings us to the trend, the creation of office spaces that don’t look like offices at all. One movement is the home-away-from-home concept. Gone are the desert tones and institutional, murky hues of yesterday’s work space. In its place have emerged offices with homey touches, such as a lounge, gaming room or nap area. You need to meditate? There’s a space for that too. The homey concept offers the comfort of home but the utility of the cutting-edge work space.
Too cool for school
Another Un-office trend is what we call the Too Cool for School look. Okay, we are making this name up but let’s go with it. The Too Cool for School look says, anything goes. How about instead of desks, we install raised platforms or bleachers? Let’s tuck booths into walls and tell people to find the spot they like and work from there. How about a dog run or a coffee bar? If it’s an out-of-the-box idea, it’s a Too Cool for School trend and millennials love them.
The great outdoors, inside
Many new offices look at trying to bring the outdoors inside. Biophilic design is making its way into the newest office spaces. Nature inspires the designs, patterns and overall feel of the office. A biophilic office might have carpet that resembles grass, windows designed to maximize natural lighting and live plants. You will also see textures and finishes that mimic those found in nature, such as stone or live edge wooden tables.
The latest office spaces are also smart. They include screens for presentations, video conferencing capabilities, wireless charging ports, smartboards, data sharing and more. Employers recognize that smart offices make for a more productive work force. And today’s newest entrants into the job market expect these hi-tech amenities.
You just knew there was a “but”
These trends in office space reflect a change in attitude about what work should look and feel like. It doesn’t have to be so utilitarian that it sucks the life out of your soul. In fact, why shouldn’t a work space make you feel good? Although, with every big trend, comes a “but.”
The “but” here is that, while the desire to foster collaboration has driven many of these trends, the collaborative work space is losing some of its popularity. A 2013 study from the University of Sydney found some serious drawbacks to the open-plan office—namely productivity and privacy. The study found that when workers can’t hole themselves away from the crowd to get some work done, they have trouble getting their work done.
Um, can you keep it down?
Research revealed that it’s really hard to be productive with people talking to you all day. People actually need quiet to concentrate. Didn’t your mother say something about turning the TV off while you do your homework? Turns out, she was right.
I need you not to listen to any of this, okay?
Collaborative work spaces also present significant privacy concerns. Phone calls can be overheard across a room, people can observe emails they shouldn’t, see sensitive information on computer screens or hear conversations not meant for them. There are no “closed door” meetings. Always being out in the open also means, how an employee feels or what they are doing is on display. That can wear on anyone, but particularly introverts not comfortable in the spotlight.
We’re not firing you, we’re just giving you an opportunity to improve
As such, the Valley’s new office spaces will likely see a return to some privacy, with a mix of offerings in one place: open meeting areas, semi-private and private spaces.
Whether you work in a collaborative space or a traditional office, Landmark Title Assurance Agency is ready to offer its expertise. We have commercial and residential teams who provide escrow and title services. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact our main office at (602)768-2800.