Coworking Office Model Goes Mainstream
12/9/2014 3:22 PM
Evolution or revolution?
The commercial office space sector continues to experience a
fundamental shift in design and space utilization as more and more
organizations seek to reduce overhead costs. The traditional model,
perimeter private offices surrounding a large bullpen area, was for
decades, the preferred model. It was deemed highly efficient in function
by maximizing floor space utilization while, at the same time, providing a modicum of privacy for bullpen employees. However, in the never ending quest to minimize overhead
costs, many organizations opted to allow employees to work from home.
This strategy did, in fact, significantly reduce the amount of leased
space required to run a business and, initially, was well received by
employees. This model appeared to be a win-win for both the employee and
employer. But, over time, work from home employees began
to feel isolated and disconnected from their peers and their employers.
The missing piece was, as Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos calls it, “serendipitous encounters” with colleagues. Collaborative workspaces, as it turns out, allow for the sharing of ideas, generates positive organizational energy and promotes a sense of connectivity to an organization. These
are all positive work environment elements but, bringing every employee
back to the corporate office is at odds with the corporate mantra of
overhead cost reduction. What to do?
has ushered in a new age of entrepreneurism and popularized the concept
of “start up.” With rents in many of the large markets prohibitively
expense, the marketplace has made the adjustment, as it always does, and
developed a model that successfully combines need, affordability and
profit for both the tenant and developer. This model is here to stay.
One answer is the growing trend to coworking office layouts. In this model, the walled-in office of the past is replaced by open floor plans and common areas often shared with a number of different
employers. This model also has the benefit of allowing young startup
companies, especially tech driven startups and freelancers, to lease
office space at very affordable rates. In
some national models, tenants can lease space in units as low as one
hour a day! Tenants pay for only the space they need and use. The trade
off for affordability and convenience is a lack of privacy and
confidentiality. However, developers of this model, and there are a
growing number in large markets, are addressing these issues by adding
small privacy areas to the open floor plan and “selling” the usage on an
hour by hour basis.