Coldwell Banker: Room to Improve Office Space

As employers seek to define the workplace perks most likely to attract and retain employees, Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates, Madison, N.J., said the physical office itself could keep staff happier.

Nearly two-thirds of employed U.S. adults said their office could better utilize its physical space and one-third said improvements can be as simple as a better floorplan, Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates President and CEO Fred Schmidt said.

“Over the years there have been many transformations that have shaken up the traditional office configuration,” Schmidt said. “These go beyond the headline-grabbing news of foosball tables and napping pods.”

Schmidt said workers–especially the newest members of the workforce–demand “smart” uses of office square footage. “And commercial real estate professionals are taking note,” he said.

Coldwell Banker surveyed more than 2,000 adults including younger Millennials (18-29), older Millennials (30-34), Gen Xers aged 35-49 and Baby Boomers between 50 and 69 to ask how office space can be optimized to meet worker needs and comfort.

Ample parking, food courts and outdoor lounging space were the most coveted office amenities, signaling a desire for convenience and community, Schmidt said.

“Younger Millennials appear to be the tastemakers when it comes to office trends,” Schmidt said. “As this group continues to enter the workforce there will be greater demand for convenience and community within the workplace.” He noted younger workers said they want to eat lunch with their colleagues rather than eat alone, “and they want to spend time in outdoor office lounges rather than at their desks,” he said. “Offices are becoming a center for social activity, and it is important for office commercial real estate to accommodate this.”

The survey also asked how to improve existing open office layouts.

“Open floorplans might still be the dominant choice in U.S. offices, but workers are increasingly seeking private space to temporarily withdraw from their shared workspaces, take a personal call or focus on important assignments,” Schmidt said. Nearly 8 in 10 people surveyed and nearly 9 in 10 Millennials said they would feel more comfortable with an open floorplan if private spaces were available.

“Open floorplans can facilitate collaboration and creativity within the office, but it is also important to carve out private spaces in order to provide a break from the buzz around the office,” Schmidt said. “We’ve noticed an increased demand for private space within the open office after years of conducting this survey.”