It’s become clear over the past several years that the hybrid work environment is here to stay. What’s not changed is the value of interaction, collaboration and socialization to a company’s success, and smart developers are focused on enhancing the in-person office experience to encourage a return to the office.
Hybrid structures also lead to a contraction in office space demand, which gives developers the opportunity to reimagine their office product.
As a result, several trends are emerging for commercial building developers to consider as we enter 2023.
1. Adjusting to Hybrid Environments
There are plenty of reasons why people who can work remotely choose to go into the office. They may look forward to interacting with their colleagues, wish to limit distractions or merely desire a change of pace.
The reimagining of the workspace to break down silos and emphasize collaboration, including hyperconnected conference rooms, communal work areas and open floor plans, is surging in popularity. After all, a JLL report noted that 97% of high-performing employees said their office enabled easy collaboration, and a global survey of businesses from London-based Knight Frank showed that 55% want more collaborative space in their offices.
2. Letting Employees Recharge
People can get away from their computers and step outside when they work from home. That’s not always true in an office setting—but it’s becoming more of a priority. Access to outdoor space is an increasingly popular request as businesses recognize that employees seek a variety of ways to recharge during the workday.
Anything companies can implement to increase wellness within the office walls is increasingly on the table. A dedicated fitness center is frequently atop wish lists, and those are even being repurposed to host wellness and mindfulness classes. At Keystone’s headquarters, 1K1, a 255,000-square-foot, Class-A office building located in Conshohocken, PA, The Refinery is a newly renovated, luxe fitness experience providing tenants the health and wellness amenities they need to unplug.
Additionally, fully equipped cafeterias with high-quality, nutritious food options and contactless services are increasing in popularity. Game rooms may be cliche, but they work, and even the traditional common area, with its casual, cozy seating options, has resurfaced because it provides employees a chance to mingle with colleagues away from the desk.
3. Taking the Workplace Home
It’s not just about bringing a degree of home life into the office. It’s about bringing some semblance of the workplace back to one’s residence as well.
Developers of multifamily communities, especially apartment and condominium complexes, are embracing the work-from-home culture in forward-thinking ways. The traditional business center is being reimagined and tailored to people who don’t want to leave their homes but aren’t quite interested in venturing to the office—such as those who live with fellow remote workers. Dedicated co-working space, secure internet connections, and private video conferencing centers, or “Zoom rooms,” are among the amenities residential developments are incorporating.
4. Repurposing Vacant Buildings
As companies downsize, they’re leaving behind buildings no longer suited to the modern workplace. That migration has allowed developers to break from the traditional constraints of the property and rethink how the building, or the land it’s on, can be used.
Some commercial properties are being rezoned and reimagined as multifamily housing. Others are being repurposed for industrial uses, such as self-storage facilities, logistics centers, life sciences depots, or cold-storage warehouses. The adaptive reuse of historic properties will also continue as people invest in and reclaim facilities that have been cornerstones of the community for decades.