How hybrid work is transforming workspaces

How hybrid work is transforming workspaces

2023-02-15T10:09:00-05:00February 15th, 2023|Architecture, Commercial Real Estate, Legal Services, Pittsburgh|

Writer: Eleana Teran

2 min read February 2023 – The growing adoption of hybrid work has led to a renewed focus on office spaces. On Tuesday, a CBRE report revealed that over one-third of tech companies are planning to double their utilization of flexible workspace.

The hybrid working model has become more commonplace over the past two years, changing the dynamic in the office environment. Rather than growing their physical footprint, businesses are reimagining their office designs with an emphasis on quality space instead of expanding their flexible working policies. Over half of the organizations surveyedopens PDF file in JLL’s future of work 2022 report said they plan to make remote work available for all of their employees by 2025. 

Despite the rising popularity of flexible workspaces, there has been a slowdownopens PDF file in adoption due to the growing awareness among companies that cost, cultural fit and IT security are crucial in order to obtain maximum value from the investment, adding pressure to flexible workspaces to innovate and provide bespoke solutions to meet businesses’ needs and changing demand. 

Similarly, digital workplace platform Beezy’s Workplace trends & insights report noted that a large number of employees are now in hybrid or fully remote settings. Of those surveyed, 73% are in flexible work environments, with 43% working remotely full-time and 32% wanting to continue doing so in the future. As a result, many individuals are drawn to companies which offer them the freedom to work remotely. In fact, 63% of participants said they would be much more likely to join a business that provides this sort of flexibility.

Employees also recognized the hurdles associated with remote work. Nearly half (47%) of workers stated they were missing the camaraderie of their colleagues, while 32% were using unapproved communication and collaboration tools. This shows the need for companies to give their workers the right tools and training to function properly at a distance — leading to many companies coming up with ideas to make their offices more attractive and appealing in an effort to draw top talent. 

As the hybrid work model becomes more prevalent, businesses are rethinking their real estate needs and re-evaluating their office space. This has resulted in a shrinkage in the commercial office market, which has created the need to reimagine existing properties. Jeff Young, co-managing principal of Perkins Eastman’s Pittsburgh studio, sees a common trend of decreasing office size. “We are working with a law firm that is moving to a new building and decreasing its current footprint by 20%,” he said in an interview with Invest:.

Pittsurgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority has been proactive in launching a new initiative to entice developers into converting underutilized office space into affordable housing in Downtown. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that a total of $6 million in funding has been made available to developers who commit to building one-fifth of units available to housefolds at or below 80% of the area median income.

Another key trend has been the flight towards quality, as noted by Mamadou Balde, managing director at CBRE. “When you think about this trend, everyone thinks of brand-new, ground-up buildings, but you can also have the same experience in a modernized building. We’re seeing newer, renovated and heavily amenitized buildings that just speak to what our clients are looking for in a post-pandemic office environment,” said Balde.

At the same time, organizations are tackling the challenge of enhancing collaboration and preserving company culture as hybrid work becomes increasingly prevalent, by arranging social events with a focus on collaboration. These activities can range from cooking classes to outdoor adventures with the potential to encourage employees and enable teams to construct bonds beyond the digital environment, which is fundamental for achieving high performance. 

In an interview with Invest:, Jordan Blask, Pittsburgh office partner in charge at law firm Frost Brown Todd LLC, expressed his thoughts on the collaborative nature that exists in legal services. “I don’t see the law office as something that will disappear, but I see it evolving technologically to provide some flexibility for that collaboration. I believe there will be more user-friendly technology, most likely AI, to create efficiencies and cost-effectiveness. Certain things that we do as lawyers can’t remain virtual, since in-person interactions are often the preferred and more efficient method,” noted Blask.

GBBN Architects Market Design Leader for Community Development Amanda Markovic believes that the built environment can help improve collaboration among diverse industries. “It provides opportunities to get up from your desk, go to a café or just take a walk. Those are the moments where people tend to find the most inspiration. Increasingly, innovation districts, especially in our region, support tech graduates coming out of top-tier universities,” said Markovic.

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