Another year draws to a close, and we’re still living with the pandemic, wondering when and how people will come back to the office.
While companies will be figuring this out for some time, a surprising number are moving forward—expanding their offices or creating new ones. At least that’s what we’re seeing here in Charlotte where most of our office projects happen.
Frankly, that’s counterintuitive. Why is it happening? For one thing, Charlotte is a fast-growing metro that’s continued to build existing businesses and attract new ones. Most businesses still need office space for in-person meetings and client interactions, even if many of their team members work from home some or all of the time.
Here are 4 trends we’re seeing in our office design business 21 months into the pandemic:
While square footage has shrunk in some cases, the change is minimal. Our office project size remains largely the same as it was pre-pandemic. Though in many cases space usage has changed, with a greater focus on places for collaboration and team building.
We’ve continued to see a trend toward including more outdoor space in office projects, but it’s definitely not at the scale we expected to see. That’s mostly driven by economics.
Many of our new projects have been in the industrial and manufacturing industry. The office spaces for these projects are tilting more high-end in terms of furniture, finishes and fixtures—the reason why we’re involved! In the past, many clients in this sector invested little in office space for their knowledge and administrative workers. That’s shifting. These clients now see their buildings as multipurpose spaces that should support sales and employee satisfaction, as well as core manufacturing. These projects now often include R&D space, as well as showrooms.
Office projects for knowledge workers are still growing, but at a slower pace than industrial and manufacturing projects. That’s perhaps not surprising since workers in these industries can more easily work from home. Many professional firms, tech companies and other knowledge worker businesses are taking a “wait and see” approach before investing in new or updated office space.
No matter what happens in the New Year, we’ll be here to help our clients create office spaces that support their business goals, including attracting and retaining talent—a business challenge that’s likely to hang around for some time.