To younger generations who are making up more and more of our work force every day, work is no longer a physical space, but rather an activity that, for better or worse, can be taken nearly everywhere we go. For this reason, the movement toward co-working spaces has emerged in virtually every city that has a business industry. Co-working is present here in Central Pennsylvania with spaces like the Park and St@rtUp in Harrisburg, the Candy Factory in Lancaster and the Techcelerator in Carlisle, to name just a few.
Even though co-working spaces are present in Central Pennsylvania, the majority of our workplaces are still modeled after the “old” economy assembly line, where workflow was linear and corporate structures were hierarchical. For commercial real estate owners and investors who want to capitalize on the growing demand for co-working spaces, here’s what you need to know.
Understand how the modern day “office” has changed
Foremost, we must take a step back to understand how the modern day “office” has vastly changed from what was desired decades ago. Simply put, stop thinking like a baby boomer! Nearly 10,000 baby boomers retire every year. It’s estimated that millennials will comprise the largest segment of our work force (75 percent to be precise) within the next decade.
If you’re a commercial real estate landlord or investor, you know the importance of understanding your clients’ wants and needs. So let’s examine what millennials want out of an office. First, the word “office” isn’t really appropriate anymore. What’s desired is a workspace that in one instance can provide quiet and solitude for “head-down” work, and the very next moment, provide an energizing and collaborative group work environment. Should it come as a surprise that millennials want it all without having to commit to one style of space? This brings us to the next important point, which is design.
Design spaces that quickly adapt to changing needs
Co-working spaces are high on function and that means being able to quickly adapt to a variety of work situations. In a single day, a business and its employees may need quiet, private work stations where people can work independently; open, collaborative space where people can work in groups; and traditional meeting space where people can meet with clients. Over time, growing businesses also desire the ability to easily accommodate more employees without having to uproot and find a bigger office every few months.
With traditional office space, businesses usually have to settle for dysfunctional work spaces that don’t quite fit the number of employees or their work styles. As a result, employees are less efficient, communication is disjointed and company culture suffers. For those who own or invest in commercial real estate, the focus needs to be on redesigning traditional office space to function more like a co-working space. This means large, open work areas where employees can interact and collaborate. Also, look for furniture that can be easily reconfigured as often as needed to provide more work spaces and private offices for independent work and meetings. These features will be huge selling points for businesses who want an office that will meet their immediate needs as well as grow with them.
Offer shared amenities to attract and retain tenants
The good news about co-working spaces is that people get used to sharing amenities. Multiple businesses working in the same building could all benefit from a shared conference room, snack bar, lounge or gym. While this would be far too much for any one of these businesses to individually afford in their own office, a building that provides all tenants with access to such amenities has quite a leg up over the competition.
Look at how Google and Apple have designed “campuses” for their employees. You can create the same effect out of your office building. Give businesses a place to interact with other businesses. Now you not only offer work space, you offer networking and business development opportunities for all!
Deliver a seamless experience – even if it comes at a premium
By adding luxury amenities to your office building, like mentioned above, you give businesses a seamless experience. Their employees will have incentive to do more at the office, even if that is relaxing, eating or exercising. Best of all, this higher level of employee engagement comes at a premium. Businesses will pay more for office spaces that keep employees happy, healthy and invested in their jobs. When you invest in adding luxury amenities to you work spaces, you will stand out among the competition and be able to charge more for your space.
Focus on building your own brand!
If you want to engage the growing millennial workforce, you need to pay attention to your brand. This demographic is used to polished and prominent branding. If you want to attract them to your office space, you need to present them with a brand worth buying into. Many co-working spaces brand themselves with a trendy name and logo. They have professional websites and a strong social media presence. How does your “brand” compare? Any effort put into properly branding your properties will bring exponential benefits as time goes on.
Which of these tips do you believe is most valuable to commercial real estate owners and investors capitalizing on the growing trend of co-working spaces?
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