There is no right answer when it comes to the design of the perfect office space among the corporate world, landlords, and designers. A panel of experts at a Bisnow conference, Workplace of the Future, agreed that there is much to be debated still about how best to design an office. “We could charge an hourly rate for the conversations we have on what belongs in the building – not the shape of or the color of glass, but what belongs in this building as a draw,” said one of the panelists, MdeAs Architects principal Dan Shannon. More than a dozen panelists debated these issues about design trends, amenities in buildings, and strategic decisions that go into creating office space.
Attracting Employees with Office Space Design
Attracting and retaining good employees is a consideration when designing a new office space, and to attract the best and the brightest, their input often plays a role in the design of a building. Rockefeller Group Senior Vice President Bill Edwards said that up to five years ago decisions about the design of office space was strictly a consideration of the C-Suite. “The C-Suite had taken the approach that they know what’s best for their company and their employees. That’s evolved to the C-Suite listening to employees, understanding what their needs are, what their desires are,” Edwards said.
Employers are having to compete with companies like Google, which has a cool space, fun amenities, and flexibility. Companies like ShutterStock chose a sexy address in the Empire State Building to draw talent. They also provided fun amenities in their space including a ping pong table, drinks on tap and free food.
“Working at the Empire State Building and telling people I’m based out of there is a statement,” Shutterstock Head of Global Facilities and Operations, Razia Ferdousi-Meyer, stated. “Retention is already important to us, and we’re wowing the interviewees we’re bringing to the Empire State Building.”
Flexibility is Key
Some panelists cautioned against “amenity creep” as office designs now build in amenities without a clear plan. “I don’t think most landlords are actually being thoughtful about it,” Jonathan Kaufman Igar, CEO of William Kauffman Organization said. “It was an arms race. That guy’s doing it, so I need to do it. It was more about marketing, it was a lack of understanding of what the tenants need.”
When asked what they desire most, tenants say the number one priority is flexibility. In the last five years, office space has moved away from one-size-fits-all, to a more flexible design to accommodate those who are co-working and flexible-office providers like WeWork, which is becoming the largest non-government tenant in Manhattan.
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