Open floor plans, collaborative spaces, and no partition work areas are not always optimal. Some people need quiet areas and some people need the ability to talk on the phone or with others. This article from the Urban Land Institute discusses the balance that must be reached with such open collaborative spaces between open work areas and private areas.
In a recent San Francisco Business Journal article, Terry Cunningham, President and General Manager of Evault, a cloud back-up and recovery service, explained why the company moved its 100 person Emeryville offices to San Francisco.
Cunningham said one of the great advantages of relocating to San Francisco is that he has a “wider pool from which to recruit, because more people want to work in the city than in the South Bay, and the city is centrally located, making it easier commuting from the East Bay and other spots.”
Plus, Cunningham said San Francisco is just “hipper” than the South Bay.
“San Francisco is cool, and we were just in a wasteland down south. There was nothing cool in the particular location we were in. You had to get in your car to drive for lunch.”
Cunningham has been reveling in the walkabillity of his new neighborhood. The environment, coupled with the new office’s design, makes for a “more intimate working culture, in which people get to know each other better,” he said.
Some may argue that office space in West Los Angeles has become too plentiful. Soft markets, when there is an excess of supply over demand, occur about 80% of the time. Conversely, tight markets occur about 20% of the time. Los Angeles brokers and building owners have to face the reality that demand has been decreasing over the last two decades. This industry is very mature, and it may be time for a change. As this article from CoStar Group points out, one of the changes that should be made in office design is to accommodate the needs of the next workforce generation. Unfortunately, the next generation demands less, not more, office space per employee.
To add value to their properties, Westside Los Angeles office owners will need to design spaces that operate with greater efficiency. They will also have to account for greater densities of employees in these spaces. These two tasks need to be accomplished simultaneously while continuing to foster an interesting and creative atmosphere. These environments will further promote collaboration and will have a positive effect on employees rather than sticking them in cubicle farms.
The Westside does not need more space, but simply better quality of space. Despite a 20% vacancy rate in Playa Vista, developers are planning to bring on another million square feet of office space in the next couple of years. If the future workforce demands less space, one may question why this is being planned. Investors, developers and owners have to ask themselves if they are meeting a tenant demand or investor demand.