‘Core space’ a key office trend for 2018

2:58 PM Friday December 8, 2017 True Commercial

Shared spaces could include project spaces. Photo / Supplied

Office occupiers will increasingly draw a distinction between their ‘core’ and ‘flexible’ space needs as mobile disruption continues to reshape workplaces in 2018, office experts say.

National director of office leasing at Colliers International, Rob Bird, says flexibility has been a key trend in recent years, with more staff working offsite and from home.

“It’s now becoming harder to justify allocating a desk to every employee when staff occupancy rates are trending down,” he says.

“Occupiers are seeking new ways to consolidate space and save on real estate costs, and a good starting point is to analyse how staff utilise the workspaces available to them.

“A clear understanding of office areas vital to the business can help companies become more efficient by eliminating unnecessary floorspace and the associated costs.”

Bird says ‘core space’ is defined as the minimum space a business needs to function efficiently, with no excess for expansion, short term projects, seasonal work surges, or large meetings and presentations that take place only occasionally.

These excess needs can be fulfilled by using ‘flexible space’ — shared facilities that companies can use as and when required.

Shared facilities could include project spaces, meeting rooms, collaborative spaces, event spaces, and administrative areas for printing and copying.

“Some modern office buildings provide shared facilities that enable the building’s various occupiers to access flexible space when they need it,” Bird says.

“Alternatively, occupiers without shared facilities in their buildings can use one of the many co-working providers that have been established in New Zealand’s main centres in recent years.”

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Meeting rooms and collaborative spaces are part of the concept. Photo / Supplied

As co-working continues to grow in popularity, Bird says providers will eventually start to target major corporates, rather than focusing solely on start-ups and smaller businesses.

“This had already started happening in the United States, where large co-working providers have begun competing with traditional landlords for major tenant leases.”

Bird also expects occupiers will embrace co-working by subleasing space to co-working providers.

“This strategy allows occupiers to bank additional space for growth if required. It also gives occupiers the ability to collaborate with the businesses the co-working provider brings in, resulting in better productivity and the opportunity for innovation.”

Matt Lamb, Auckland Commercial Leasing Director at Colliers International, says flexible work practices and mobile technology are also making workplaces denser.

“With fewer staff in the office, we’ve seen some occupiers consolidate their space by increasing density from a staff-to-square-metre ratio of 1:10 to 1:8,” he says.

“We expect this trend to increase, particularly within major CBD areas where space is becoming more expensive.”

At the same time, Lamb says building owners and occupiers are investing heavily to make their workspaces more appealing and useful to workers.

“This trend towards ‘placemaking’ will become a key part of owner and occupier strategy in 2018 and beyond,” Lamb says.

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Spaces for breaks and socialising are included. Photo / Supplied

“With the rise in mobile technology, people now have a choice of working in a traditional workspace, a co-working space, at home or elsewhere, such as a cafe or park.

“Workers now expect compelling reasons to come into the office, and owners are responding by providing the likes of wellness amenities, improved shared spaces, and partnerships with occupiers, retailers and service providers.

“All of these offerings can help create spaces that attract and connect with the new hyper-mobile workforce.”

Auckland Commercial Leasing Director Sam Gallaugher says office security and safety is expected to be among the priorities for occupiers and owners in 2018 and beyond.

“As security concerns becomes more prevalent, landlords and tenants will start to consider more advanced methods than traditional pass cards,” he says.

“Technologies such as facial recognition, finger print scanning and phone ID scanning aim to provide a level of non-intrusive security that doesn’t detract from the experiences of visitors and staff within the building.

“These new security methods will become even more important, given the trend towards flexible working hours and more people coming and going from office buildings.”

Gallaugher says some high-end Auckland office buildings have already introduced next-generation security technologies.

“Kiwi Property’s Vero Centre on Shortland St, for example, uses number plate recognition technology to control access to the car park,” he says.

“We expect more and more office buildings will adopt similar technologies to offer workers a more seamless home-to-work transition.”