Trends in office space development and design are evolving rapidly, with the most notable changes occurring over the past several years. Beginning in urban centers and startup cities like New York and LA, office spaces are transforming from the traditional expectation of wall-to-wall cubicles to soulful representations of brand identity, company culture and the overall shift to modernity.
This movement away from the pragmatic interiors of the past is happening quickly across the nation. However, the most notable changes are occurring within entrepreneurial, metropolitan centers in the U.S. Gainesville, Florida, home of the Gators and the world-renowned University of Florida, is no exception to the trend.
With commercial real estate development changing the landscape of the city into an urban hub for technological growth and startup culture, the office spaces are following suit. This shift to more innovative, collective work environments is exemplified in Innovation Square Gainesville, a thriving hub for startups in the rapidly growing college town. Innovation Square’s office buildings and its overall development process have breathed new life into the corridor between the University of Florida campus and the downtown art district.
It is the ideal location for businesses to take residence and create collaborative work environments focused on the changes being made in larger locales. With this new emphasis on creating an atmosphere tailored to a company and its employees, there are a few trends popping up in Alachua County that are worth noting.
1. Collaborative Spaces That Encourage Teamwork
Unlike offices of the past that were sectioned off with a sea of cubicles and floors of private, executive offices, companies are now creating open spaces that revolve around community.
“It is surprising — the effect that closed office spaces have on communication,” stated John Fleming, managing partner of local real estate development company, Trimark Properties. “The traditional office space often impedes beneficial dialogue between whole departments and employees. By focusing on an open workspace with a seamless flow between desks, the barriers to communication and relationships are broken down. That’s when real teamwork happens.”
This sentiment has been echoed across the nation, and the effects of the new office design have done wonders to increase productivity and efficiency at work. It opens up the opportunity for the workplace to foster real relationships between coworkers that run deeper than casual acquaintances. This is an invaluable asset when recruiting employees for the future growth of any company.
SharpSpring, a publicly traded digital marketing automation company, has created this kind of culture with its Gainesville global headquarters. With a flexible workspace and loads of in-office benefits to employees, like a bodega for light snacks and various collaborative settings, the company has capitalized on the community aspect of its building. Positioned in the heart of Innovation Square, the asset it can offer current and future employees is highly beneficial.
2. Less Drywall, More Glass
Bland drywall and artificial sources of light are becoming construction trends of the past. Walls are being replaced with floor-to-ceiling glass windows featuring outdoor views and natural light that create a bright, energizing working environment.
A report from the World Green Building Council states, “Longer distance views, away from computer screens or written documents, allow the eyes to adjust and re-focus, which reduces fatigue, headaches and the effects of eye strain in the long term. Views also have a positive impact on well-being.”
The effects of adding glass design elements and large windows contribute to the aesthetic value of the office and create a more appealing environment for employees. A key consideration in these updated design choices is creating an environment where employees want to spend their time. Adding natural light serves to improve employee retention and satisfaction in the long-run by creating a place where they enjoy working.
3. A Balancing Act: Public & Private Spaces
Flex spaces are the new black as the next generation of companies attempt to create a functional and open working atmosphere. There is no doubt that there will always be a need for private workspace in any industry. Phone calls and conference meetings are a staple in the working world, and finding places to conduct them without sectioning off the entire office space is no small dilemma.
The most common way to tackle this design challenge is to create smaller, private rooms designated for meetings and calls that line the walls of a larger, more open workspace. Options Medical is a perfect example of this in the Gainesville community. The heart of the office is open and spacious with room for collaboration and teamwork, but small meetings, work and conference rooms line the sides of the office for the times when employees need a little more privacy. This dynamic solves the dilemma between public and private spaces without losing the integrity of the flexible design or the practicality for accomplishing tasks that an office should afford.
4. Customization for Company Culture
“One-size-fits-all” and “bland” are no longer words that can be used to describe contemporary offices. Instead, they are vibrant representations of brand identity and company culture. With that being said, customization is a must as commercial developers think about leasing and developing spaces that will appeal to top brands in the market.
This is the aim of the Ingenuity building being developed in Innovation Square by Trimark Properties. With a January 2018 completion date, the four-story office space is being built to evolve with future tenants. When a portion of the space or the building as a whole is leased, the option to customize the office based on the tenant will be available, with options including a flexible floor plan and a unique interior design palate.
The ability for offices to adapt to a company’s culture is essential in the modern marketplace, as companies see their workplaces as direct representations of their brand identities. This trend is developing in Gainesville as customization is increasingly important.
5. Walking Distance
A location within walking distance to city amenities is not just a perk of living in a major metropolitan area. The ability to walk to work and have an array of dining options in the vicinity is vital when choosing an area to position a business. The “live, work, play” motto of Innovation Square is geared toward this mindset. Companies want their offices and employees to be part of a lifestyle and a community.
By maintaining close proximity to culture, food, shopping and beautiful residences, a company’s hiring potential is greater and employee satisfaction will rise. When a large number of staff members don’t have to commute far to work or drive 15 minutes away to grab lunch, it takes stress off the company as a whole. Establishing a business in the heart of a well-developed area also allows the company to establish roots in a community and build relationships with local businesses and consumers.
6. Sleek, Current Design
Among all the changes to offices in the Gainesville community, the modernization of interior and exterior design elements is the most apparent. Dynamic glass windows, stained concrete floors, exposed steel beams, natural wood accents and elevated ceilings are staples in trending office spaces.
These elements allow for the natural light and open concept to stand out while creating a clean, functional environment that has mass appeal. It also creates a show-stopping first impression for potential clients and new hires. This type of urban space serves as a canvas to capture the essence of a company culture.
With the advent of the new office space and its reach in the Gainesville community, the face of commercial real estate and office development is already undergoing a complete makeover. The available office culture and environment is unarguably one of the largest deciding factors when drawing world-class talent to work in the Gainesville community. The push toward redevelopment and urbanization in real estate design and techniques for the workplace will be one of the essential elements in bringing about the overall modernization of the Gainesville community.
World Green Building Council. (2014, September). Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices
(Rep.). Retrieved December 5, 2016, from World Green Building Council website: http://www.worldgbc.org/files/9714/3401/7431/WorldGBC_Health_Wellbeing__Productivity_Full_Report_Dbl_Med_Res_Feb_2015.pdf
KAITLYN MCKINLEY is a communications professional living in Gainesville, Florida. She is passionate about the real estate business, finance and marketing luxury brands.