What to consider when choosing a new office space in 2023

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

I recently conducted a poll about my LinkedIn account, asking people about their preferred work style in 2023. The majority of them opted for ‘hybrid’.

We are still going to the office this year, for several reasons. For some, it’s about productivity; for some, it’s about a clearer work schedule (completely remote workers spend 10% more time working than those who sign off when they leave the office). For others, it’s about networking (57% of employees said that the number one pain point they want to go to the office for is “lack of social interaction,” and the list goes on.

If you also work from an office this year and are looking for a new space to house your team, what should you look out for? These are my main recommendations:

Proximity is (more than ever) key

First, for people heading back to the office, a long trip can be a long trip deal breaker. a questionnaire of London respondents revealed that nearly two-thirds of them feel it’s more important now than before the pandemic to be close to different amenities, so look for spaces that are near you or have satellite spaces in multiple areas.

Related: 5 Simple Rules To Follow When Looking For Office Space

Design should be needs based

Since people have different reasons for returning to the office, the design of the space should reflect these. For example, a research project showed that the average professional spends more than 40% of their time at work interacting with others; this percentage can be larger or smaller, depending on the industry in which you operate.

It’s important to review and understand these behaviors and motivations – and plan the space accordingly. Open, flexible spaces can work wonders for teams that often need to collaborate, but you may also need areas to focus on or host brainstorming sessions.

It’s helpful to see how a space will fit your team and meet their needs even before you make the schedule. To do that, you can work with the landlord or real estate agent on a test fit created using a 3D space planning tool to get a better understanding of what that space will look like and show it off to your peers.

3D custom plans are more intuitive and realistic than 2D space plans and give a better sense of the future space. When more people are involved in the decision-making process, and when they’re not in real estate, having a virtual, 3D view of space becomes a must – especially when we’re talking about millennials and Gen Z, who are so used to to gamification and all things digital.

The features and technology that matter

After working from home or remotely from a sunny destination, when returning to the office we seek an A-class experience. Your next space should therefore:

  • Let yourself be bathed in natural light. This is the main feature employees, especially if they spend most of their time on a screen.

  • Use ergonomic furniture – standing desks and comfortable networking areas

  • Adopt one biophilic designwhere natural elements are included for connection with nature

  • Use powerful ventilation systems to constantly bring fresh air into the room, as high air quality can improve performance by 11%

  • Integrate technology that makes people’s work easier. Slow technology can be seen as one disadvantage to return to the office. I am not only talking about fast internet, but also about voice and sensor-controlled devices, management apps (for example, to be able to reserve a meeting room digitally) or digital access systems.

  • Be accessible — office spaces should not only be close to a means of transportation, but also inclusive and accessible to all.

Related: Spruce up your office or workspace with these 10 must-have items

Sustainability

The built environment and the construction industry are responsible for this 38% of global CO2 emissions, and people are becoming increasingly aware and concerned about this. Further, they say with which companies should now integrate sustainability more into their services 65% of employees say they would like to work for a company with a strong sustainability policy.

How do you make sure you work from a responsible space? The ESG policies and measures taken for most office buildings are publicly available. For example, when you go to a developer’s website, you can look for certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Do your research

Once you’ve gone through all the criteria your future office space needs to meet, it’s time to research. This used to be a largely offline process, with many live visits and a lot of time spent selecting the right space.

With the accelerated development of 3D digital twins, your alternative is to check most criteria online and then decide if you want to visit a space.

What these replicas do is give you a realistic perspective of what your future office might look like, what technologies and amenities are available, how close it is to key points of interest, what ESG policies they have in place and what spaces are actually available for rent.

All relevant details can be found on these replicas, as well as virtual tours of the room, with or without built-in. This will greatly reduce your time spent researching and improve your experience, also making it easy to share information online.

3D digital twins have entered the real estate universe and are expected to continue to evolve to a point where the industry will be completely transformed.

Related: Creating an engaged workforce through thoughtful office space

Design and features are critical to your new office, as is proximity to key amenities and orientation to technology. To appeal to a generation of workers who are becoming increasingly accustomed to having an app for almost everything, the degree of digitization of the space is probably first on the list of criteria. The same thing happens with sustainability, creating, in my opinion, a balanced future where nature and technology co-exist and enhance our very existence.

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