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Crafting an Office Space Vision: Strategizing Beyond the Tangible

By: David Liebman, SIOR, JD, James Hochman

Navigating office leasing in the post-COVID-19 world requires a new paradigm in strategizing. It’s not merely about square footage and lease terms; it requires a deeper understanding of the tenant’s business culture, ambitions, and evolving needs. As SIOR office tenant representatives guide their clients through this journey, they must go beyond the tangible and delve into nuanced layers of organizational aspirations. Here's an evolving checklist to illustrate this refined approach.

1. Business Culture Embodiment: No longer just walls and desks, an office workspace is now a canvas where a company's culture is painted. Does the client foster open communication or does the client favor hierarchical structures? These answers can influence whether an open-plan space or compartmentalized offices are more appropriate. .

2. Fostering Engagement & Collaboration: Nowadays, engagement and collaboration are taken more into critical consideration than in the recent past. The modern employee seeks more than just a paycheck. Young professionals and millennials seek encouraging interactions and a dynamic environment that sparks ongoing and growing innovation. Spaces that cater to spontaneous meetings, breakout areas, and even relaxation zones may elevate the employee experience.

3. Envisioning Growth Trajectories: Today's decisions should not handcuff tomorrow's ambitions. The client’s office strategy when choosing a space should anticipate and align with future growth or downsizing needs. If the client foresees a surge in headcount or a broadening customer base that frequents the office, the space must be scalable. It's more than extra desks – additional meeting rooms, recreational areas, and technological infrastructure are all strategic considerations.

The quest for the perfect office space is a strategic endeavor, one that melds the practical with the aspirational.

4. Technological Infrastructure: Evaluate the technology infrastructure for the client, including internet connectivity and video conferencing capabilities. Beyond just high-speed internet, considerations around server spaces, cybersecurity measures, and adaptability to emerging tech trends are paramount. A robust IT backbone is non-negotiable.

5. Employee Well-Being: Consider the impact of office amenities and features on employee well-being and job satisfaction. Wellness rooms, modern cafeterias, or even rooftop gardens can each play a pivotal role in employee well-being, retention, and productivity. These are not mere luxuries, they are strategic tools in crafting a productive work environment, growing the client’s business, and engaging a more sophisticated workforce.

6. Navigating Lease Intricacies: Review the terms of the client’s current lease and explore opportunities for negotiation with the landlord. Consider shorter lease terms or flexible lease options. Flexibility remains at the heart of modern lease agreements. Effective office tenant representatives must guide clients in understanding the fine print — clauses that might impact future scalability or renovations.

7. Competitive Advantage: Assess whether the client’s office space contributes to its competitive advantage, culture, and brand identity. Each one of these attributes creates opportunities for considering multiple office environments, especially as an abundance of direct and sublease space exists in primary, secondary, and even tertiary markets.

8. Client & Stakeholder Relationships: Evaluate the importance of in-person meetings and interactions with clients, partners, and stakeholders. This is often overlooked but may play another critical role in determining the client’s ideal workspace configuration, location, or available amenities.

9. Remote Policies & Technologies: If the client is unsure about remote vs in-office vs hybrid work, have the client establish clear and concise remote work policies that balance flexibility with the need for in-person collaboration. To enhance flexibility, encourage the client to invest in technology solutions that facilitate seamless communication and collaboration for both remote and in-office teams.

In essence, the quest for the perfect office space is a strategic endeavor, one that melds the practical with the aspirational. With this refined approach, the more sophisticated office tenant representatives can become architects of their client's future.


Media Contact
Alexis Fermanis SIOR Director of Communications
David Liebman, SIOR, JD
David Liebman, SIOR, JD
PowerPlay Real Estate Partners

David Liebman, SIOR, JD, is the Founder and Managing Broker of PowerPlay Real Estate Partners, a Chicago-based specialty commercial real estate services firm.  A former corporate and real estate attorney, David leverages that experience with 34-plus years of CRE brokerage expertise to exclusively advise and represent industrial and office buyers, tenants and investors in acquisitions, leasing, lease renewals/restructuring, land purchases and build-to-suit transactions.  During his career, David has completed more than 500 transactions, valued at over $800 million.

James Hochman
James Hochman
Schain Banks Kenny & Schwartz

Jim Hochman is a partner at Schain Banks Kenny & Schwartz law firm and freelance writer. Contact him at jhochman@schainbanks.com.