Effective strategies for marketing your office in the collaborative workspace genre

The way the workforce, particularly millennials, want to work is pressuring more companies to harbor office space that speaks to a more collaborative setting. The traditional cubicle life is no more and well-designed spaces are stepping in to take its place. Even if your current office space is not collaborative, there are effective strategies that you can implement to market your space to the collaborative workforce.

Understand a Younger Design Aesthetic

Office environments need to combine open floor plans with many gathering spaces and specialty spots, such as sound-proof conference rooms and spaces that employees can move freely between throughout the day. Even if your office has a traditional layout, you can still enforce collaboration by encouraging employees to operate out of some of your current meeting spaces. The greater face-to-face interaction, the more likely you will see an increase in collaboration.

Have a Start-Up Mindset

Maybe your office space isn’t a true collaborative layout, but that does not mean that collaboration isn’t possible. By using a fresh approach to promote a workspace that emphasizes a solutions-first mindset and innovation, you can implement cutting-edge technology that helps build flexibility and can change the spaces you occupy. Technology can help to connect all of your employees together, even if the layout of your office doesn’t allow for that. Tech like Zoom conferencing, Slack and many others can help to keep the office cohesive.

Tear Down the Walls

Opting for low walls and clusters of workstations that are smaller can encourage collaboration and utilize space more efficiently. Small conference rooms and huddle rooms can also help bring employees together for meetings, etc. An open concept floor plan is easy to accomplish when you tear down walls and join employees together. You don’t need to completely alter the look of your interior, but you do need to open the floorplan up to increase the flow of the office space.

Keep Things Flexible

Remote technology can enable employees to work and collaborate remotely. Google Hangouts, Google Docs, Dropbox and Evernote can all help encourage collaboration even in a traditional workspace. These products can also allow for employees to work from home and have greater flexibility. You can try to implement greater flexible technology to help increase collaboration within the workspace.

Amenities that Wow

Attracting a collaborative workforce is easy when you have a lobby and space that both welcomes and impresses. A closed-in office with dark furniture will deter any kind of collaborative group. These groups need amenities such as on-site gyms, on-site cafes and work spaces that are large enough for groups to gather and work together. Even in a non-collaborative office property, you can help encourage collaboration just by being creative with amenities and the overall design of the space.

4 ways the collaborative workspace movement is impacting CRE

Collaborative workspaces are changing the way millennials work and ultimately creating a snowball effect that is changing the way everyone works. Recent studies reveal that over 1.2 million people worldwide have worked, or currently work, at a co-working space. In fact, Emergent Research forecasts that by 2020, co-working memberships will rise to 3.8 million people and 5.1 million by 2022. As collaborative spaces become increasingly popular, it’s not surprising that this has also impacted the commercial real estate industry in a big way – from increasing property demand for older buildings to establishing a brand new niche market.

Here are four ways the collaborative workspace movement is impacting CRE in both a positive and negative way.

Increasing Property Demand

The popular demand for collaborative workspace environments  is benefitting CRE by also increasing the demand for older properties. Many companies that prefer collaborative space will take old industrial warehouses and repurpose them into premier locations for their team members. In fact, recent reports show that there’s a clear shift in tenants’ preference for older office buildings, as the existing old-world charm and flexible, open layouts are attractive to those seeking a collaborative environment.

Along with these older spaces, companies can also utilize floors and areas of existing office buildings to offer more collaborative spaces for meetings, communal work areas, and so forth. Overall, this is increasing the leasing and sales action within the market, as many companies continue to demand large square footages.

Establishing a Niche Market

Co-working and collaborative spaces have also proven to benefit brokers in that this new trend has created a niche market. Commercial real estate is built on relationships and many building owners and brokers have established strong networks with companies looking for this particular type of space. What’s more, there are entire brokerages, websites and platforms built to help fill collaborative spaces.

Additionally, large co-working companies also have broker referral programs, allowing brokers to maintain the client relationship while still earning commission. As most companies outgrow co-working spaces, these tenants will likely need the broker’s services down the line when they’re ready to lease a more traditional space.

There is No Guarantee for Long-Term Sustainability

Collaborative spaces are generally not for long-term leases. Many companies will lease out these spaces for a short time period, which means there is no guarantee for long-term sustainability. Tech startup companies are the biggest utilizers of co-working space. The challenge that this brings to CRE is the question of who to lease the office space to and which businesses will be able to overcome any economic downturn. This can be a gamble for brokers and landlords to determine if the company will be able to uphold their lease if a time comes when the market takes a dip.

Joint Ventures Between Landlords & Operators

The success and profitability of co-working space has increased the partnership between landlords and operators. These two groups work together to buy, develop and reposition buildings to transform them into co-working space, which allows the opportunity for both the landlord and the operator to better monetize on this trend.

Co-working has altered the way startups and small businesses approach office space. This has helped to reduce vacancy rates while also establishing new companies in many markets. Co-working companies such as Regus and WeWork are some of the most desirable tenants in the market in this day and age, with valuations often surpassing the traditional brick and mortar landlords.

OfficeSpace.com and Apto partnership brings greater exposure to Apto customers.

OfficeSpaceLogo.png   +   AptoLogo

If you’re an Apto customer, your life just got a lot easier!

We’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Apto to provide all Apto users with the ability to automatically publish their listings directly to OfficeSpace.com.

This means that you no longer have to worry about updating across both platforms and can now syndicate your data on OfficeSpace.com without ever leaving your Apto account. By publishing to OfficeSpace.com, you’ll boost your listings’ exposure and lead pipeline as hundreds of thousands of tenants and brokers search for CRE space on OfficeSpace.com every month.

The best part? All it takes is a click of a button from your Apto account to begin syncing your listings, and there’s no additional cost to you.

To get started:

  • Pull up your listing on Apto.
  • Publish your listing to OfficeSpace.com with a click of a button.
  • Instantly get exposure to tenants searching OfficeSpace.com.
  • Start getting tenant inquiries directly and add/manage them on Apto.

To learn more about this partnership and Apto, check out the Apto blog.

Learn more about Apto:

Created by commercial real estate brokers, Apto is the leading web-based software for managing client relationships, properties, listings, and deals. Apto streamlines the entire deal lifecycle. Request a demo today.

What’s the most important service a broker can provide a tenant?

Our platform serves the purpose of connecting brokers and tenants, which is why we love hearing feedback from both sides and helping tenants and brokers have an easier time making connections. 

In order to explore ways to improve our user experience and to better understand how closely brokers’ and tenants’ expectations aligned, we decided to ask the following question: What is the most important service a broker can provide a tenant? Hundreds of users gave us feedback!

Check out the responses below to see the top answers provided by both sides. You might be surprised to see the differences in the feedback we got.

What is the most important service a broker can provide a tenant? 

Top broker responses:

Broker Replies.png

Breakdown:

  • Market knowledge: 21% of responses
  • Locating a space that meets their needs: 15% of responses
  • Good communication/Timeliness: 13% of responses
  • Accuracy: 12% of responses
  • Lease negotiations: 10% of responses
  • Honesty: 7% of responses
  • CRE knowledge/ advice: 6% of responses

Top tenant responses:

Tenant Replies.png

Breakdown:

  • Good communication/Timeliness: 37% of responses
  • Locating a space that meets their needs: 15% of responses
  • Helping them get a good deal: 12% of responses
  • Honesty: 8% of responses
  • Market knowledge: 6% of responses
  • Negotiation skills: 5% of responses
  • Access to hard-to-find listings: 4% of responses

So what conclusions can we draw from this?

Market knowledge may not be the most important attribute for a broker from the tenant’s perspective. While this was the number one response from brokers, less than 2% of tenant responses had market knowledge listed as most important broker service.

The second most popular response from brokers was locating a space that meets the tenant’s needs.  Tenants too felt that this was important, and it was a match for second place.  There’s really no surprise here, this is a universal expectation.  

Good and timely communication from brokers is essential for tenants, making this attribute the number one ranked response from tenants with 37% of the responses. Only 13% of brokers marked this as the most important attribute, ranking it the third most popular attribute among broker responses.

Tenants want to get a good deal, and they expect their brokers to help. This answer seems like a no-brainer, so we were surprised that there was a bit of a mismatch between the two groups. For tenants, this was listed in their top three responses. For brokers, this came in as the 12th most popular response with only a small percentage falling this category. We could dive into the differences of responses between landlord representative brokers and tenant representative brokers, and hopefully we would see a difference. However, if we take this at face value, brokers who leverage this attribute could have a big opportunity to attract new clients. 

Tell us what you think! Is this feedback different from what you had expected?

Creating Productive Office Space in 5 Easy Steps

Let the Sunshine In! – Adjusting Light and Temperature

These may seem like basic necessities for any office space, but the benefits of maximizing their potential are often overlooked. While people are naturally more enthusiastic when they’re comfortable in their environment, as no employee wants to be stuck in a sweltering, dark space, recent studies have shown that fine tuning these two factors can actually have a direct impact on a person’s levels of motivation and fatigue – two key elements of workplace productivity.

For example, one study tested subjects with both daylight and artificial light throughout the course of several days. From that, they found that those who had daylight exposure had significantly better performance than those with artificial light exposure by  the second day. Additionally, another study from Cornell showed results indicating that office productivity actually improves as room temperatures approach a predicted thermal comfort zone.

When considering your space, it is important to learn the details of how the HVAC system works so that temperatures can be adjusted according the day and season (as opposed to leaving the settings at a fixed point, as found in many workplaces). Additionally, employees should be situated near spaces with as much natural lighting as possible, particularly if their work quality is heavily reliant on productivity markers. As the cold reign of noisy, blinkering fluorescent lighting comes to an end, many innovative new lighting options have appeared, including those that serve emulate sunlight itself – which are often useful options to invest in if your work space lacks access to natural lighting.

Turn Down For What? Better Office Productivity!

While it’s true that some of us are more sensitive to noise than others, it’s generally agreed upon that excessive noise is a distraction to most people while trying to work. Unsurprisingly, studies have been performed where up to 99% of those sampled reported that their concentration was negatively affected by various office noises, such as incessantly ringing telephones and constant background chatter.

In addition to being a general annoyance, workplace noise is a serious threat to overall productivity, and is an issue that requires attention now more than ever as offices frequently choose to adopt an open floor plan – less walls does equal more opportunity for noise to travel. Luckily, there are practical ways to control sound in the work space, in order to create a more peaceful and productive environment for employees.

Regardless of your floor plan, it’s always a good idea to create areas of refuge within work spaces where workers can go to focus their concentration, such as a privacy room, a quiet section in a corner outside of all the usual busy distractions, or a sound-proofed conference room – solutions that can usually be enacted without a great deal of time or cost. Other noise reduction options include everything from larger scale projects like sound-masking systems, to smaller solutions such as communal play lists comprised of music that employees can all agree to. At the end of the day, even taking the first step of simply being mindful of the noise levels and looking for solutions can be a great first step towards improving the workplace environment.

The Benefits of A Thoughtful Floor Plan

The debate about the superiority of open floor plans vs closed ones is ongoing, and remains as heated as ever. However, there are certainly ways to make improvements to productivity that work under both options. In it’s most fundamental sense, this comes down to striking the right balance for your space, and being attentive and thoughtful in regards to creating a layout that serves to help employees in achieving their specific work goals.

If you’re in an open space, as mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to create spaces where workers can go to concentrate away from the high-traffic areas. Conversely, if your main work space is primarily closed, having open collaborative areas where workers can get together to brainstorm, discuss, and interact with each other in a personal manner can be a boon as well. Optimally, the goal should be to foster an environment that allows for both privacy and collaboration, as each is needed.

In addition to these conceptual tips, there are also more practical things that can be done, such as organizing the work pace so that people don’t have to constantly walk across the entire room (and thus distract others) in order to access a commonly used area or piece of equipment. A little bit of observation and consideration can go a long way when planning an office layout.

Love Your Body – Ergonomics and Workplace Flexibility

While this ‘tip’ might be commonly known, it’s still important not to underestimate just what good posture and functional desk space can do for productivity levels. Ensuring that your office is equipped with appropriate equipment (chairs, desks, the right technology, etc.) is always a worthwhile investment. Taking this a step further, many companies of late have been giving the option for workers to choose from a variety of different setups – from standing up with an adjustable desk, to sitting on a medicine ball, as well as all the more conventional options in between.

Sometimes we all need a change in scenery to get our brains going, or a chance to get up and stretch, and in this regard workplace flexibility can be a significant step toward providing better overall productivity. Many companies even allow for telecommuting, which is great when possible, but improving workplace flexibility can be something as simple as creating a space where workers can move around and refresh their minds and bodies if needed.

In the most basic terms, efforts to make the office space an enjoyable, comfortable, and efficient place to work can do wonders for performance and productivity. So whether you’re searching for your next office space on Officespace.com or simply looking to spruce up your current office, taking the time to give proper attention to some of the factors discussed above can be a great first step towards improving any type of working environment.

 

How Important is the Office Neighborhood?

At OfficeSpace.com, Amazon is a part of our lives in more ways than one.  Our headquarters are located in the downtown Queen Anne/Belltown neighborhoods, within one mile of South Lake Union/Denny Regrade, home to Amazon’s new proposed campus, Facebook’s new Seattle office, Vulcan and a number of up-and-coming internet companies.

Recently, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn has proposed increasing the office tower limit to 240 feet, up from the current 124 feet in South Lake Union.

Why are all these companies moving to South Lake Union?  The answer is simple: the neighborhood puts them in the “center of the Seattle universe.”

McGinn even went as far as to credit the neighborhood growth with the success the city has had in recovering from a slow economy

OfficeSpace.com CEO Susie Algard was recently featured in a Friends.org article speaking to the emphasis of transit-options and amenities.

“[The companies] want to be as competitive as possible on the recruiting front,” Algard said in the article.  “They know that people want to work where they can easily walk to lunch and other amenities.”

The office neighborhood has become particularly important with tech companies in the Pacific Northwest.  These companies are competitive with recruiting and know what their young recruits want.

In addition to restaurants, Algard mentioned doctor’s offices, parks, fitness centers and parking lots as important amenities.  On top of these amenities, South Lake Union is bustling with new condominiums.

For this reason, our OfficeSpace.com listings always include a walk score.  Tenants want to know what’s nearby and how their employees will get to work.  Our walk scores are expandable and include a breakdown of transit, restaurant, hotel and coffee options by distance.  Tenants can also search for directions by entering information on their commute.

Let’s hear back from other cities: How important is the office neighborhood to you and what are the quickly growing neighborhoods in your city?

‘Little Showcase of Horrors’ – More Historic Portland

A few weeks ago we posted a blog post with a few of our favorite buildings in Portland. We thought it was fun so here are some more beautiful buildings that our photographers have taken shots of.

New Market Theater Block

 

Built in 1872, this Old Town building’s name comes from the fact that it originally housed a market on the first floor and Portland’s first theater on the second floor.

 

The first floor arcade was highlighted by a total of 28 marble produce stalls.  For much of the 20th century the building was used to store car parts until 1980 when it was renovated into a retail and office building.

Also of note, The Portland Symphony Orchestra was officially founded in 1882 and started in the New Market Theater block.

The Brewery Blocks

I’m sure The Brewery Blocks need little introduction to any Portlanders. To those reading from elsewhere, The Brewery Blocks were the location of the City Brewery and later the (and more famously) Blitz-Weinhard Brewery from the mid 1800’s to 1999. The oldest buildings remaining were built in 1908, including the Brewhouse Tower.

In 1999 the Weinhard brand was sold to Miller Brewing Co. and brewing was subsequently sent to the Olympia brewery in Tumwater, WA. The Brewery Blocks, which by this point had increased to 5 blocks, were put up for sale and in 2000 were redeveloped into a mixed-use project with office, retail residential spaces.

The Brewery Blocks’ most famous tenant is Henry’s 12th Street Tavern, which features 100 beers on tap, almost entirely from Oregon. Powell’s Books, while not in the Brewery Blocks, borders block number 2.

Smith’s Block

Originally built in 1872, Smith’s block was just one of nine Portland buildings featuring one of the more popular Portland cast iron patterns. Now, it is the only survivor amongst those buildings.

During the 1950’s, the quarter of the building on 1st and Ash was torn down and turned into a parking lot. Despite this loss, the rest of the block remains and has been restored as recently as 2008.

Stay tuned! More to come and as always, send us your suggestions PDX!

Our First Portland OfficeSpace Showcase…Distinctly Portland!

Over the past few months, with the help of some wonderful photographers, we have been hard at work capturing the architecture and beauty of downtown Portland, the Pearl, the Central Eastside and many of the other Portland neighborhoods. Some of this could only be done with the cooperation of our friends in the Portland brokerage community, the rest we did by simply walking the streets and shooting buildings.

Most of the pictures can be found on the site, but here are a few of our favorites.

The Blagen Block:

The Blagen Building, located in Old Town, was built in 1889 and is a gorgeous example of Italianate architecture, which was at the height of its popularity in the second half of the 19th century.

Its location on NW 1st is absolutely picturesque. Pure Portland.

Blagen Block

The Spalding Building:

These pieces are located in the Spalding Building’s lobby. Made out of old vaults, their contrast to the clean and beautiful lobby is quite striking.

Spalding Building

A closer view.

Spalding Building

The Spalding Building was built in 1911 and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1982, one of over 500 in Portland.

The Postal Building:

Pardon the photography on this one; this was before we realized it was best to take the camera out of my hands.  The Postal Building, built in 1901, was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1978. I found the highlight of this building to be the beautiful atrium. (Wish my picture did it justice)

Postal Building

The Barber Block:

Most people familiar with Portland will recognize the historic Barber Block. Built in 1890, this building is another example of Italianate architecture but with a unique flair of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture as well.  Known as an east Portland landmark, it was added to the Registry of Historic Places in 1977.

Barber Block

Barber Block

Barber Block

That’s all for now but there are countless incredibly beautiful buildings in Portland, we’ll be back with more soon. Let us know if you have some buildings that you would like to see in our showcase!

Rates don’t improve, but vacancy rates show good growth in Seattle office space market

The year ended on a high note for the Seattle office space market in 2011.  Net absorption for 2011 ended just over 1.6 MM sq.ft, almost double the net absorption for 2010.  2011 also marked the best year since a high of 2006 that ended in a little over 3 MM sq. ft of net absorption.

While the overall vacancy rate for the Seattle market didn’t change dramatically over 2010, there is a good story once you dive into the details.  We ended Q4 2011 with 14.8% vacancy in the Seattle office market compared to 15.3% in Q4, 2010.  And while the changes don’t appear significant, there’s a story going on in the Downtown submarket.  Last quarter, several significant leases were closed with Amazon taking 386,000 sq. ft. and a total of over 800,000 sq. ft.  The impact of these leases definitely showed up when we looked at the Downtown area vacancy rates which dropped to 12.9% this last quarter compared to 15.1% in Q4 2010.

Average rental rates remained fairly steady for all of 2011 ending the year at $25.80 per sq. ft slightly lower than the $25.89 in 2010.  However, as the supply and demand paradigms shift due to lower office space availability, particularly of larger spaces in the Downtown area, we would anticipate this to have a positive impact on rental rates.