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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Frye

Are These Office Spaces Going, Going, Gone?

Traditional office elements need rethinking for today’s workplace

After almost three years of remote work, the corporate pendulum seems to be swinging back and forth on an almost-daily basis. It’s enough to give anyone whiplash! Part-time office attendance is the norm now for most knowledge workers. (I’m loving the reduced traffic the hybrid office approach has created here in Charlotte on Mondays and Fridays, as it helps me get my kids to after-school activities with less stress!)

Companies are still settling into this environment—figuring out what they really need in their office spaces and which elements they can jettison to promote efficiency and team effectiveness.

As we’ve noted before, over the last year we’ve seen greater client demand for collaboration and socialization spaces, whether clients are building out new offices or simply doing refreshes. As these new spaces take center stage, other areas warrant a closer look—in fact, these three traditional office elements may be headed for extinction.

1. Reception areas – Today’s meetings happen anywhere and everywhere, and most companies haven’t had a dedicated receptionist in years. That can make traditional reception areas an outdated artifact. While a place of arrival is important, we suggest companies opt for creative, branded elements like statement walls at the main entrance with electronic messaging. No reception desk needed. This creates a brand “wow” moment and reminds employees and visitors of who and what the company is.

2. Desks and touchdown spots —By definition, an office needs offices, right? Not necessarily. With so many people doing heads-down work at home, today’s office is a place for teamwork. So the focus is on conference rooms, kitchens and casual seating areas where people can share a coffee or brainstorm. If someone needs computer time, they can find a conference table or grab a private phone room. Some of our clients are forgoing desks and workstations altogether to invest in spaces that actually bring people into the office; spaces that spark energy and support mentoring relationships between senior-level employees and new hires.

3. Work rooms —Remember massive work rooms, with large printers, supply cabinets and big work surfaces? For many companies today, this space can be significantly downsized, with most printing projects farmed out to vendors. Our new co-working office in South End doesn’t have a work room at all; a small shelf in a storage room supports two companies’ supply needs.

It can be hard to envision an office without these traditional components. But as companies right-size their real estate, we expect to see an even greater focus on the new essentials, with less space wasted on elements that were once considered a requirement. Technology in all spaces instead of empty cabinets? That seems like a no-brainer.

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