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Time to Reassess Office Space in a Post-COVID World

Thanks to inflation and subsequent interest rate volatility, it might be a good time to reassess what tenants want in terms of their office space. In its latest conversation this week, CBRE discussed the findings of its study into the matter that showed tenants want their offices to talk back.

A global leader in commercial real estate services and investments, CBRE staged a discussion on findings of its Global Workplace and Occupancy Insights. The study found a rising desire for tech-enabled space and data to drive efficiency and productivity. Officials also discussed further trends in occupancy management and design.

“People go to the office for culture, go to the office to feel part of something bigger,” said Franco Bianchi, the CEO of Haworth, a private, family-owned business founded in 1948 by a former industrial arts teacher, GW Haworth. The talk’s moderator, Spencer Levy of CBRE, noted that Bianchi moved from his native Bolgna, Italy, in 2002 after Haworth acquired the Italian firm where he previously worked.

Franco has helmed the company since 2005, shepherding its growth into the $2.5 billion enterprise it is today. He offered his insights into the future of office space.

In his own experience, Bianchi has noted how even the furniture becomes a tool to create conditions amenable to tenants in a post-COVID environment. “Secondly, the environment is changing,” he noted, invoking the office conference room as a launching  board for his insights. “The conference room is a large table with some fancy chairs around it, and that big table is there to do what we are doing right now, talking to each other, looking at each other.

“That big table often is kind of in the way. So the ability of engaging the client [is important], to make changes in the office that make people more conducive to say, actually work better by being in the office than being from home, because many people from home work from their kitchen counter, which after a few hours is not exactly the most ergonomic or the most satisfactory place to work. So creating the best environment where people want to be is clearly much bigger than the physical environment itself. What we can impact on, but has a lot to do with a physical environment is safety, is about configuration, product typology, and is about variety. And I think that we can impact that pretty significantly.”

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