Focusing on Space: A More Collaborative Approach to CRE


Turner Levison | July 7, 2017

The way in which workspaces are designed is changing rapidly for companies across all industries. This massive shift has placed additional emphasis on collaboration and openness. The ability to communicate with your coworkers has never been more important than in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven workplace.

As a commercial real estate developer or brokerage, it’s important to adopt a more collaborative approach to space and remain open to your employees’ needs.

How Work Spaces Are Changing

For many years, work spaces were not designed for open communication. This is exemplified by the traditional “sea of cubicles” style office space that generally segments not only individual employees, but also various departments from one another.

Today, the opposite is true. The way that offices are designed, where they are located, and how they are managed have all changes. Co-working spaces are a great example of a type of workspace that did not even exist even a decade ago.

Now, the work spaces are much more open so that people can work together easily when needed, regardless of whether they’re in the same department. The focus is more on providing support for a mobile workforce, allowing for more flexibility, and even creating and allowing for networks that are enabled by technology.

These changes are not just a benefit to the employees but the organizations as well. With a more mobile and flexible workforce, companies are able to provide better service around the clock. Organizations focused on collaboration that do not stifle their employees’ creativity and freedom to work in their own ways are able to attract top level Millennial talent, something which most CRE brokerages (and companies, in general) are dying to do.

How This Change Impacts Brokerages

For the commercial real estate industry (and commercial real estate developers, in particular), this change in workspace design is having drastic impacts.

The first major area where this change is having an effect is the leasing process. Brokerages are looking for spaces that allow them to leverage a technology-enabled workplace. They are also looking for spaces that allow them to incorporate multiple business units at different times.

The focus is on using the space in as many ways as possible and providing maximum efficiency as a result. This benefits brokerages because there is not a need for as much space. CRE brokerages are downsizing and saving money on their leases because they are accommodating to the changes that are being demanded by the workforce.

The Big Reason This Change Is Needed in CRE

Beyond saving money on a lease, there is another major reason that this type of space is preferred: it promotes a more collaborative approach to the business. Employees can brainstorm easier and come up with better ideas, they can benefit from the shared experiences and talents of their coworkers.

This is a game changer for the CRE industry, since as we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, technological advancements that allow increased collaboration are a definite focal point of the industry today. Because the ability to be innovative is a major component of staying relevant in the commercial real estate industry, it would be a mistake to not look into creating this type of change so your employees can be more successful.

The Challenge for More Traditional CRE Brokerages

While there are clear benefits for CRE brokerages that adopt a more collaborative approach to their workspace design, there are also challenges that they must face on the way to this more modern take on what the workplace is and how it should be run.

Because there has been a focus on a more compartmental design for many years, it is not always as easy to shift this habit to something so antithesis. This is not just about changing the habits and ways of thinking for a brokerage. This is about changing up the physical workspace, even moving an executive office or taking down walls if necessary, to consciously accommodate a collaborative culture in your office.

While this will almost certainly be a challenge for most brokerages, it should be a goal that is worked towards for all CRE brokerages.

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