Why are office building measurements getting redefined? In short, buildings are creating more common areas and outdoor amenities to accommodate today’s tenancy. The changes put forth this past October by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International are designed to account for the way young talent is seeking out and utilizing outdoor space – like rooftop terraces, balconies, etc.
From Seeking Alpha:
“The 2017 standard really reflects the changes that are happening in the marketplace,” BOMA International Chair Rob Brierley told VTS. He’s also an executive vice president at Colliers Boston. “There has been such an increasing demand for well-appointed exterior amenities like balconies, covered galleries and finished rooftop terraces. If the tenant is taking advantage of it, the rationality is they should also now include it as part of the rentable square footage… It’s a more clear and accurate representation of how tenants are actually using space.”
“Over the last decade, the amenity packages that folks are asking for is changing so quickly,” Brierley added. “Today if you don’t have a roof deck or patio, you’re definitely at a disadvantage in many ways…. The reality is if you go out to any building that has a patio or roof deck, everybody’s using it. It’s not just the millennials. It really has been an extension of their respective offices, which is one of the reasons this change has occurred.”
Credit: Crain’s New York
When listing amenities for buildings, beyond bike rooms and common area Wi-Fi, is a new addition: nap rooms. Soon to occupy space in Class A office towers around Boston, the new commercial real estate staple is quickly becoming adopted to cater to our changing workforce. By 2020, millennials will make up 40-50% of the working population.
Due in part to the increasing focus placed on the impact of work on occupants’ physical and mental well-being, a new scoring system has been devised to quantify office buildings’ use of wellness amenities.
From Crains New York:
Similar to LEED certification, which measures a building’s environmental sustainability, Fitwel’s system tracks various factors, from signs encouraging workers to take the stairs and wash their hands to more particular features such as lactation rooms and air purification systems. The availability of natural light is also considered a plus because it helps tenants keep their circadian rhythms in sync.
“Of millennials, 78% rate the quality of the workplace as one of the most important benefits of working at a particular company,” [Joanna Frank, president and CEO of the Center for Active Design] said. “They want to be working where there’s an overt emphasis on quality of life. Companies are realizing they need to offer it to attract and retain talent.”
Access to high quality internet is key; without that, today’s office doesn’t work.
“Tenants want an assurance that their building’s infrastructure will meet their connectivity needs in the immediate, but also in the future, regardless of whatever technological leaps are in store for their business down the road,” says Arie Barendrecht, WiredScore’s founder and CEO.
After location, the second most important factor in a tenant’s current space, according to a study by Radius Global Market Research and WiredScore, is the quality of internet connectivity. When it comes to evaluating future space needs, connectivity takes pride of place, with price and location ranked second and third in priority.
Soon your office building could follow the same path as the new iPhone X: facial recognition.
Excerpts from Biznow:
Operating systems such as Nantum are one step closer to achieving the true AI experience, which is intuitive and self-improving, by using machine learning to act as the “brain” of a building. With the brain in place, Nantum can create memories of the building’s performance in order to develop algorithms that will ultimately serve to keep iterating and improving on the systems of the building, including its energy and efficiency.
A shift toward advanced technologies is beginning to take shape with facial recognition software emerging in some buildings as a way to allow employees to safely enter the office without the use of a security card.
“When people talk about IoT, sensor technology is probably having the biggest impact on buildings and space,” Pope said.
You can read more on IoT and smart office technology on Biznow.
Laws firms are dramatically changing the way they use space.
- Law libraries
- Assistant for each lawyers
- Large Private Offices
- Flexible office partitions
- Abundant Wi-Fi
- Less square feet per employee
“There are typical functions each firm has — a good amount of conferencing, support areas, dining for associates, work for attorneys, administrator space, etc. What we’re seeing is tech is having a significant impact on the way firms are using space,” [said Stephen Bay, CBRE Vice Chairman and National Law Firm Broker].
The removal of the physical libraries and having fewer assistants on staff has resulted in office downsizing. As the average decade-long lease ends, firms are reducing their square footage per employee and making the office more flexible in a move to “future-proof” the workplace and remain competitive.
Where do venture-backed companies focus when coming to the 617 area code? Unsurprisingly, the list focuses on the city core with areas like the Seaport, Financial District, Back Bay, Kendall Square and some clustered at the 90/95 interchange.
Credit: City Lab
Here’s a national perspective from City Lab:
While many large, high-tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft have their main campuses in suburban areas, cities and urban areas house the majority of venture capital–backed startups. My own research estimates that 55 percent of all venture capital investment now flows to urban neighborhoods. In the Bay Area and Boston–Cambridge, more than 60 percent of venture capital investment gravitates to these neighborhoods.
Additional information is available on CityLab’s website.
Credit: Curbed Boston
Is getting to work taking too long since your office has moved to Boston Seaport? If so, the Seaport’s solution to your congestion could be a gondola system, according to Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty.
Millennium Partners has proposed a Summer Street, cable-propelled gondola network running from South Station to a property one of its subsidiaries owns in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park, the Boston Herald reports. As many as 71 10-passenger cabins could move as many as 4,000 passengers per hour in and out of the Seaport, where traffic is notoriously congested.
“A lot of commercial entities are struggling with whether they’re going to renew their leases or they want to come here, because it’s hard to get in and out,” Flaherty said on the Herald’s radio station Wednesday. “The gondola [system] … solves that.”
Boston Seaport Office Space for Lease
Open plan versus private office the debate continues. It’s likely safe to say that we will end up with some composite of open and collaborative space while maintaining some private offices.
A recent Biznow article describes components of the latest emerging office design trend, dubbed, “activity-based office design”:
The latest model acknowledges that companies may have saved money establishing an open concept floor plan, but in most cases, they did not drive the innovation and collaboration desired. To combat this problem, current designs include areas such as team spaces with standing tables, comfortable couches and movable walls to encourage team meetings and collaboration. The activity-based office design also provides private spaces such as soundproof phone booths or isolation rooms in order to account for moments when intense concentration is needed, or when a confidential conversation needs to take place.
For more information, jump over to Biznow.com.
Boston continues to win large corporate tenants from our neighboring states.
In an article on the Courant, Alexion said “its headquarters would move from New Haven to Boston to support plans for growth…[noting] Boston will provide access to a ‘larger biopharmaceutical talent pool and a variety of life-sciences partners to further support future growth initiatives.’”
The full article is available on the Courant.
Related Office Space Listings
Seaport Office Space for Lease
Your office rents in Boston are directly impacted by the distance to the nearest MBTA stop. Simply put, expect to pay more the closer you are.
Banker and Tradesman notes, “despite the departure of several large office tenants for the Financial District and Seaport, Back Bay still has Boston’s highest-priced office space. Buildings within a 5-minute walk of Hynes Convention Center station on the Green Line average $66.69 per square foot, partly reflecting the completion of Boston Properties’ 888 Boylston tower anchored by Natixis Global Asset Management.
You can read additional analysis on the impact of the MBTA on Boston office prices on B&T.