Whether you’re talking about office or retail spaces, there have been big changes in what the ideal commercial property looks like in recent years. A combination of factors, including tech developments and the preferences of the millennial generation are reflected in the spaces where we work and shop.
The workplace has been morphing from space that’s designed for specific people into space that’s designed for specific activities. Gone are the individual offices where employees spend the majority of the day alone. The workplace has become more open as the emphasis on collaboration and flexibility has increased.
This is in part because we are more mobile. Thanks to laptops, tablets, and WiFi, it’s no longer necessary to be chained to a single desk. Employees can move around the space more, going to where the task is being done and meeting with coworkers for collaboration. This can help break up the day and make it more enjoyable –and productive.
Although meeting space is still necessary, the trend is toward more numerous, smaller spaces rather than large boardrooms. Often, employees just need a quiet space to make calls or meet with one or two people to discuss a mutual project. Several rooms like this make more sense than one large meeting room. The plug-and-go workstation lets any one make themselves at home with their own devices. Mobile technology also makes it possible for people to work in comfortable lounge areas and even outdoor spaces.
Other important considerations for tech-friendly workspaces are infrastructure, energy efficiency, and surrounding amenities. Many people are looking for the live/work/play location, and this can play a big part in recruitment and retention. Look for these features to continue to gain importance in workplaces in all industries.
Retail spaces are in the midst of growing pains all over the country. Some large US companies are closing brick and mortar stores, while new types of retail space are coming into use. Radio Shack is a good example of a traditional retailer that’s not making the transition to a more hybrid form of business. They’ve closed hundreds of locations over the past year.
Meanwhile, innovative “omni-channel” stores are combining the best of online and real-world retail to create a seamless experience for customers. Shoppers can compare prices, check inventory, and even purchase merchandise before they ever set foot in a store. At omni-channel shops they can pick up merchandise, and also use in-store kiosks to browse. Stores can get coupons and receipts to customers online, saving everyone time.
Obviously this type of consumer activity has a big impact on retail spaces, and brick and mortar stores will have to incorporate technology into their daily operations in order to compete with online retailers. Some stores are becoming more like distribution centers, and there’s a need for larger warehouse facilities for the buy-online-pick-up-in-store market. This has implications for security as well, and technology can be put to work there as well, using smart building technology to manage everything from surveillance to thermostat settings. The infrastructure and wiring needed to support tech driven retail is of tremendous importance and should be a major focus in any planned renovation.
Technology affects every corner of modern work, and commercial properties are responding by making it part of the spaces we use.