When we were planning for 2023, we forecasted some market changes and did some strategic planning to help HBW succeed. We recognized that although these situations were out of our control, how we reacted would make a difference. At the mid-year point, we’re right where we need…LEARN MORE
Why now is the time to invest in your office space
Office space has been a big question for the DC metro area for the last four years. Are employees coming back? Do we need all this space? Where will we gather when we need to be together? Now, the issue is more resolved, with 60% of businesses back in an office five days a week, 29% working on a hybrid schedule, and 12% operating fully remotely.
Although the majority of businesses have returned to the way things were before, the nature of business has changed. Organizations of all sizes are giving more priority to the employee experience. And that starts with the work environment.
If you have commercial office space, now is the time to make an investment so it works harder for you – and your tenants. Let’s look at the trends and how HBW Construction is helping meet the market’s changing needs.
Commercial real estate trends
As recently as a few months ago, companies were willing to eat the cost of underutilized or even empty office space because the labor market was so tight. They used working from home as a benefit to recruit and retain talent. Now, those companies are using a different strategy: luring employees back to the office with more comfortable, flexible workspaces and amenities.
In Washington, DC, we’ve noticed that most of the Class A buildings (the nicest spaces) are fully occupied, while older, more tired buildings stand empty. The commercial real estate market has noticed, too. Revamped office spaces feel like high-end hotel lobbies or Starbucks shops, with more casual or collaborative spaces and fewer cubicles or offices.
Companies that want employees to come to the office have to make it attractive again so people want to be there and those at work can be productive. The response from commercial real estate owners and managers includes new building facades and entrances, grand lobbies, brighter corridors, roof decks, fitness centers, and large conference centers. Adding shared amenities helps to compete with Class A buildings.
Shared facilities meet tenants’ needs, too, where we’re seeing a downsizing trend. As companies renew their lease, they are giving space back or looking to move to commercial office space that works better for the business. The emphasis is on understanding how the space is going to be used and creating purpose-built interiors.
The thought behind the investment
As a leader in commercial office construction and customization, HBW understands the new dynamics of commercial real estate. Flexibility attracts tenants, while appearance and features attract employees.
We’re seeing tenants spending more time working with designers on programming their office space. Together, they determine who’s coming in, who’s staying at home, how the work is going to flow, what people will be doing, and what tools or space they need for those tasks – all before designing the space that HBW then builds out.
We’re also seeing Landlords building more spec office spaces to speed up the lease process. By doing the build-out process themselves, offices are move-in ready; some are even turnkey and include all furnishings. These spaces aren’t a blank slate; often, they are trendy, high-tech-looking spaces with shared kitchens and conference rooms on each floor.
What’s in – and what’s OUT
When it comes to upgrading office space, it’s out with the old and in with the new.
We’re seeing commercial real estate say goodbye to:
- Plain office interiors
- Communal shared desktops
- Spaces dense with private offices
- Assigned work spaces
- Office space in the city
And in their place, we’re building out:
- Hoteling spaces, where employees can reserve workspace depending on the type of tasks they need to do that day
- Open-concept coworking environments with a mix of sofas, chairs, and tables
- Soundproof booths or rooms for private phone calls or conversation
- Modular furniture that can be easily reconfigured
- Office space in new, trendy mixed use developments in the suburbs
- Large rooms that can be divided with operable partitions to accommodate large and small gatherings
These commercial investments are just that – money spent for a future payoff. Five years ago, $50 – $60 a square foot in construction cost for an office was high-end. Today, we’re seeing landlords spending $110 – $160 a square foot on spec suites that include accent walls, linear lighting, glass wall systems, and other “homey” features that appeal to tenants and employees.
Changing space, changing roles
Here at HBW, we’ve stayed on-trend with our own space. We’ve downsized, consolidating two office spaces into one for better collaboration. When we’re not busy tearing down walls and installing modern amenities, we are spending more time on pre-lease consulting for our customers.
Since design and function are so important, customers considering multiple buildings for their new office space need to know that the “bones” are suitable to do the kind of things they want with their build-out. Our expertise and construction knowledge help them select the right space and understand the costs involved to realize their vision for the space.
When it comes to office space, the mindset now is: If you’re going to have it, make sure it works for you. HBW remains ready to help owners and property managers with their changing needs as they invest in next-gen office space.
To see how HBW Construction can make it “work for you,” visit our Corporate Interiors portfolio on our website.
Patrick Foley brings over 25 years of construction experience to his role as Vice President of HBW Construction.