How to Modernize Office Space: 20+ Tips to Modernize Your Workspace
Providing a modern office space has become a way to incentivize employees, encourage productivity, and ensure loyalty in the workplace. However, to modernize office space, efforts must go beyond sleek furniture choices and clever cubicle arrangements. As building owners and landlords plan office space, everything from dedensifying office space for health and safety to clean air initiatives may factor in. Read this article to learn the latest innovative approaches to providing an enjoyable workplace for satisfied employees.
Covered in this article:
- How to Modernize Workspace and Why People Want it
- 3 Features That Modernize Office Space
- Design Trends to Modernize Office Space
- Factors to Consider When Designing a Modern Workspace
- How to Modernize Office Space in a Post-COVID-19 Environment
- Examples of Modernizing Your Workspace
- Modern Workspaces for Lease in Texas
How to Modernize Workspace and Why People Want it
A modern workspace is an operational setup, sometimes professionally designed, that meets the needs of both the business and its employees. There are physical components to this, such as the color palette, furniture, lighting, and decor. There are also technological components to a modern workspace, which include networking, building security, and smart building elements. One survey of more than 1,200 workers delineated the following items of importance:
- High speed wired internet
- High-tech workstations and/or height-adjustable desks
- Natural light and beautiful architecture
- Quiet common areas
- Flexible conference rooms
- 24/7 building access
From aesthetics to amenities, modern workspaces are thoughtfully designed to facilitate productivity.
As the post-COVID-19 return to the office continues, priorities have shifted. There is more emphasis than ever on touchless processes, safety-first operations, and integrated workspaces for hybrid work arrangements. In light of this, the features of a modern workspace have shifted as well.
3 Features That Modernize Office Space
In the commercial real estate sector, business owners are not always working with new construction, nor does modernization require remodeling. Any office space can be modernized. For example, here are three key features that are identified as common among modern office spaces, many of which can be adaptations or upgrades of existing office buildings:
1. Open Space Design
Office space design is trending toward openness. Like many modern interior design approaches, open concept designs are ideal not just for co-working spaces or shared working spaces, but often applied to traditional workspaces as well. This openness may be achieved perceptually through windows, in the angle of walls, or the use of half walls. This has a few identified benefits, one of which is fostering open communication. Open workplace designs that have natural light are also proven to contribute to employee well-being and productivity. Now that COVID-19 has colored our world, and workspaces, openness through dedensification and physically distanced work areas can keep both safety and open workspace designs prioritized.
2. Allocating Collaboration Space
As hybrid work arrangements become more common, modern workspaces are implementing shared collaboration spaces and flexible conference room arrangements. These are essential for employees who may only work part-time in the office. Flex meeting rooms and spaces are also ways to encourage teamwork, brainstorming, and innovation.
3. Technology Integration
Digital transformation in commercial real estate has changed the way businesses operate, and required building owners and landlords to level up. It is now possible to have a modern office building that has smart parking, siloed internet connections for optimal data security, 24/7 security, and even dedicated Zoom rooms. While offices may not need all of the bells and whistles available, it is important that technology is well-integrated and employees have easy access to what they require.
Design Trends to Modernize Office Space
While better function is a natural outcome of modernizing office space, aesthetics play a role as well. Here are some of the emerging design trends of modern offices:
- Lighting — Smart lighting can provide some individualization, and cater to people’s preferences for light color and intensity.
- Ergonomic furniture — As the health challenges of long days in front of a computer at a desk are clear, ergonomic furniture provides positive opportunities to sit, stand, lean, and support the body at work.
- Power-integrated furniture — Cable management is an important component to keeping a space minimalistic or clutter-free, and power-integrated furniture has built-in spaces to store cords out of sight. It also ensures ready access to charging ports and USB connections.
- Energetic color palettes — “White” may be the hue that comes to mind when thinking of modern office design, but a trend is emerging on the heels of new developments in color and mood theories. In other words, people respond to color emotionally, and office designers are beginning to use energetic colors like orange, blue, and green in strategic ways.
- Outdoor spaces — Courtyards, porticos, balconies: it is not a new trend to leverage outdoor spaces, but modern office buildings take this to a new level. Shared gardens with raised beds, picnic areas, and even open-window days are a way to bring the outdoors in.
- Moveable furniture and multi-functional spaces — The days of a once-a-week conference room meeting, and a space for that purpose only, may be gone. Now, multi-functional spaces and meeting rooms are optimized with moveable or cross-functional furniture and designs.
These trends are aesthetically pleasing and are also purposeful as buildings are designed to attract certain tenants or customers. As developers and designers make strategic decisions on how to modernize office space, design trends are just a few of the factors considered.
Factors to Consider When Designing a Modern Workspace
There are many choices to make when deciding how to modernize a workspace, and employee needs should be top of mind.
- Create a purpose-driven design, first establishing your goals for the space, then reverse-engineering the layout and features that will meet those goals.
- Build in variety, such as quiet areas, leisure areas, small group areas, collaboration areas — the more flexibility inherent in the layout, the better you will optimize use of space.
- Consider technology: the full network and energy demand of technology upgrades, some of which may require rewiring or other infrastructure changes.
- Plan space utilization for traffic flow, social distancing (if required), and peak occupancy, which will include making space available for hybrid employees.
- Plan for growth: how can the layout shift or be modified to accommodate more workers, some of whom may come back to the office full-time or be new employees? Future-proof your workspace by planning ahead for growth.
- Include employees in the process of designing a modern workspace: send surveys or ask for feedback. They may be a valuable source of ideas or inspiration, ensuring they will be thrilled with the result.
The factors that go into office space decisions will differ from company to company, so it’s important to adequately assess an office space before diving in. For instance, choosing a workspace that is move-in ready, existing, or just a shell space will impact the functional and aesthetic design decisions that can be made. If modernization is a high priority, it should be an important point of consideration as you choose an office space to lease.
If you already have an office space and you plan to modernize the workspace, it may be possible to use tenant improvement allowances to make the changes or upgrades. This is something to work on with your property management team or a qualified CRE agent, as it will be part of your lease.
If you are leasing an office space in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, or surrounding areas, an agent from Hartman Income REIT Management may be able to assist. Use this form to contact the team at Hartman.
How to Modernize Office Space in a Post-COVID-19 Environment
After the COVID-19 pandemic, employees returning to the office have made their concerns and wishes clear. There are numerous elements of workplace safety that are now a priority, such as employee health screening, exposure response plans, publicly shared cleaning procedures, vaccine policies, and customer traffic direction. It is also important that employers take into account the mental health of their employees. Since the pandemic, many people have heightened anxiety and stress. Creating a clean, safe, and collaborative workplace can play an important part in supporting employees’ wellbeing and encouraging productivity.
Examples of Modernizing Your Workspace
Hartman REIT is an example of a firm that is modernizing workspaces for tenants. CRE firms like this provide a host of features and attributes in modern office buildings that make employees feel both safe and happy to come to work everyday.
Here are some examples of how our team is upgrading modern office spaces in Texas:
- Conference rooms with Zoom integrations for bridging the gap between at home and in office employees, as well as making video conferencing with clients or other business locations as easy as possible.
- Tenant lounges and casual work environments that offer games, snacks, and coffee bars.
“We’re doing conversions in some of our lobbies, going to a lobby-lounge concept, and making it spacious enough that people feel comfortable. We’re seeking to provide things that tenants wouldn’t have at their home or their home office, such as coffee bars or adding game sections”, says Hartman Income REIT Executive Vice President of Construction Dan Jones.
- The aforementioned Clean Air Initiative has been nationally recognized, and Hartman properties are equipped with clean air technology that protects tenants from the spread of viruses and bacteria.
- In the Energy Corridor, our office and retail properties offer expansive, forest-like surroundings with access to outdoors walking trails. This enables business owners and employees to meet physical health goals and enjoy outside time.
Many business owners may equate modern workspace designs with high-end, and feel these decisions are out of budget or out of reach. However, there are ways to make strategic upgrades, even in older buildings, that effectively modernize the space. Hartman Income REIT’s Executive Vice President of Leasing, Richard Maloof, explained it this way in a recent Bisnow Panel: “In our spec spaces, we’ve built them like they’re Class A spaces: we put LED lights, LVT, brand new carpet, and paint. Even though you’re walking into a Class B 1985 building, when you get to the space, you think you’re in a Class A building. Even though their budget is lower than Class A, they don’t feel like they’re in a Class B property at all.”
Modern Workspaces for Lease in Texas
Modern workspace designs provide ample amenities and an appealing and comfortable place to come into work every day. As employee sentiment shifts toward wanting to leave home offices and return to the office, it’s more important than ever that employers are ready to accommodate their needs. This includes some of the flexibility inherent in modern workspace designs, as well as health and safety protocols that will provide peace of mind.
To see what is possible, or find an office to lease, browse modern workspaces for lease in Texas.
About the author:
Sarah Hoopes is the Marketing Coordinator at Hartman Income REIT. She is a graduate of Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Management.