Design, real estate experts discuss the future of offices
Employers and builders are looking at how to create spaces that get workers back into the office.
- Employers want diverse spaces with added functional amenities that create a “home away from home” for workers.
- Biophilic designs have become increasingly crucial for promoting mental health.
- Hootsuite has successfully drawn employees back to the office by investing in recording studios, cozy pods, inviting lounges, and well-stocked kitchens.
- Rather than being homogenous, spaces are now designed with flexibility as a cornerstone, featuring collaborative workspaces, hot desking options, and functional areas.
The Whole Story:
What does the modern office look like?
Real estate and design experts gathered in Vancouver, B.C. to tackle that question at a roundtable discussion on the workplace of the future and current trends in office design.
The roundtable discussion featured:
- Emily Lee, co-founder, managing director & principal designer, CLVR Studio
- Carol Waldmann, director, global facilities and real estate, Hootsuite
- Dan Burgar, co-founder and CEO, Frontier Collective
- Myah Ollek, commercial sales associate, CBRE Canada
Lee shared that gone are the days of traditional office spaces. To cater to Vancouver’s changing workforce, especially as more employees return to the office, employers are now looking at diverse spaces with added functional amenities, like pods, to accommodate various work and collaboration needs.
She noted that dynamic and adaptable workspaces are also being favoured over offices with static walls. Offices that emphasize modular furniture and walls foster a more versatile and responsive environment, which resonates with a wide variety of potential tenants.
Lee also shared that biophilic designs have become increasingly crucial for promoting mental health, as exemplified in the design philosophy of Marco Polo, such as speakers that mimic natural sounds.
Moving into 2024, Emily stated that “hotelification” of office spaces, turning offices into a luxurious “home away from home”, will be a key trend with a wide array of wellness offerings that will continue to be popular.
Bringing softer vibes into the office with the utilization of strategically chosen materials and finishes plays an integral role in employees wanting to stay and work in the office. Lee explained that these well-rounded spaces give the end-users the flexibility to customize their experience based on their individual preferences, making it more enticing to come back to work.
Waldmann shared Hootsuite’s strategic emphasis on providing employees the autonomy to choose their work environment, be it from the comfort of their homes or within the office premises.
She stated that Hootsuite has successfully drawn employees back to the office by investing in enticing amenities, including recording studios, cozy pods, inviting lounges, and well-stocked kitchens brimming with a variety of snacks.
These amenities, thoughtfully tailored to individual preferences, coupled with initiatives fostering human connection, address the inherent longing for interpersonal relationships among employees who have been working remotely. Coming out of the pandemic, Hootsuite consolidated three Vancouver offices into a singular, innovative workspace. Departing from traditional desk configurations, the company has introduced flexible workspaces, incorporating lounges, pods, and dedicated focus areas. This approach affords employees a diverse range of workspaces to choose from, enhancing both productivity and well-being.
Waldmann also shared that incorporating forward-thinking trends such as individual stall washrooms, Braille signage, and mobility amenities will be critical, cultivating a work environment that prioritizes diversity and inclusion.
Burgar shared that for the tech industry, individuals want environments that foster creativity; thus, having dedicated spaces tailored to their innovative needs is hugely important. He also shared that the surge in Vancouver’s tech market necessitates the development of spaces not only to accommodate the growing influx but also to retain talent by offering amenities like gyms and food courts that contribute to a vibrant city lifestyle.
Dan is currently working on creating a 150,000-square-foot innovation hub to bring entrepreneurs, creators, and start-ups together to turn Vancouver into one of the world leaders in technology and share optimism about the future of the tech industry in Vancouver. Dan explained that it is essential for office spaces to be intentional, cultivating specific “vibes,” bringing souls into the spaces where they work, and building small neighbourhoods and communities within larger areas to enhance the overall work and living experience.
Ollek highlighted a notable surge in employees returning to the office, emphasizing the growing necessity for adaptable work environments. Recognizing that a company’s functionality is intricately tied to the spaces they inhabit, businesses are strategically opting for a diverse range of office setups. This includes the incorporation of private offices catering to executive teams and open-layout workspaces fostering collaborative efforts among employees. Ollek underlined the pivotal role played by amenities in the workspace, which has been a driving force in enticing employees back to the office.
According to Ollek, this trend gained momentum in the latter half of 2023 and is anticipated to persist throughout 2024. Notably, spaces are now designed with flexibility as a cornerstone, featuring collaborative workspaces, hot desking options, and functional areas that align with the evolving needs of tenants. A palpable shift is observed as tenants actively seek changes in how they utilize their spaces, prompting intentional and tailored designs for workspaces.