Office construction has seen an increase in activity for the past several years. For 2017, this was projected to skyrocket by at least 10% according to some predictions. Two high-profile projects that are indicative of this trend are a high-rise office tower situated along the Chicago riverfront and a 22-story, 700,000 square foot Marriott International headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. The following factors are fueling this trend of increased office construction.
Office-Based Employment has Increased
One factor that has led to a jump in office construction in 2017 is an increase in office-based employment. The growth of this sector of business saw a boost of 1.5 percent in 2016. Office-based employment spans a diverse set of industries and includes careers in telemarketing, architectural services, computer design services customer service call centers, engineering services and more.
Millennials are Driving Growth
The workers of today tend to be younger. The ability to balance work and pleasure is high on their list of important attributes as they search for employment. Living in — and commuting from — the suburbs does not have the same appeal for this sector of the population. Instead, millennials tend to gravitate toward a walkable lifestyle that puts their office within an easy walk from their home as well as their social avenues. This desire is being integrated into the office buildings of 2017 in order to attract the best talent. In this same vein, and much like in residential real estate, keeping up with modern technology is very important in creating a desirable space for this growing part of the market.
Urban Areas Are More Popular
Urban areas offer a multitude of advantages for office buildings when compared to more rural areas. One of the most important though is easy access to reliable public transportation. Many businesses are trying to build roots in desirable areas with tons of amenities and entertainment options to attract top talent.
Support for Communication and Collaboration
Co-working or cubicle? This question that seemed to vex office design in the past has finally been put to rest in 2017. The architectural trend for office construction has been to effectively marry both aspects of office design. Spaces that allow for collaboration on projects large and small are interspersed with offices or cubicles that allow for quieter processes. Loft-style meeting rooms that provide the impetus for the free exchange of ideas often provide the anchor from which the other office design elements reach out from.
Sustainability Ramps Up Construction
Sustainability continues to be an important buzzword within the construction industry. While the impact of energy inefficient buildings on the earth itself is a key factor in this trend, the most compelling reasons for its continued expansion is its cost savings. Buildings with the right combination of elements could experience a 50 percent reduction in their energy usage. This correlates to a significant cut in their utility budget. This point also makes a building more attractive when it comes to bringing in new tenants or when it comes time to sell.
Projects such as the Chicago riverfront construction mentioned above will replace a one-story older building that is currently on-site with one that comprises multiple stories and that utilizes newer materials. These improvements will likely be enough to help offset the cost of the construction over the long term.
Improved Employee Health
Buildings that feature elements that have been proven to correlate with healthier employees are aimed at attracting those workers. Open office layouts, floor-to-ceiling windows that let in natural sunlight and nap pods are just a few amenities that office design trends are gravitating toward.
The office construction trends noted above are likely to continue to influence new builds and retrofits for the unforeseeable future. Not only do they keep businesses competitive by attracting great talent, these improvements save money in the long run.
Dan Ramos is a team leader and design consultant at Denver Life Design.
March 28, 2018