Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Office walls are closing in on corporate workers, Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2010

This two and a half year-old Los Angeles Times article highlights that the downward trend in office space is not a new one.  Based on analysis by a senior Jones Lang LaSalle manager--the same company that told the Reston Task Force the same message a year ago--this report highlights that not only are technology, teamwork, and cost considerations driving down office space per worker, but younger office workers actually prefer it!

Here's how the article by Roger Vincent begins:

Businesses used to provide 500 to 700 square feet of work space per employee, but the average is down to 200 square feet — and shrinking. The recession and an emphasis on teamwork accelerated the trend, and younger staffers prefer less.

The walls are closing in on white-collar workers — their office environments are shrinking, propelled by new technology, a changing corporate culture and the age-old imperative to save a buck.
Although personal workstations won't disappear, the sprawling warrens of cubicles and private offices that have defined the workplace for the last few decades are heading the way of Rolodexes and typewriters. The shift is of tectonic proportions, experts on the workplace say.
In the 1970s, American corporations typically thought they needed 500 to 700 square feet per employee to build an effective office. Today's average is a little more than 200 square feet per person, and the space allocation could hit a mere 50 square feet by 2015, said Peter Miscovich, who studies workplace trends as a managing director at brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle.
"We're at a very interesting inflection point in real estate history," Miscovich said. "The next 10 years will be very different than the last 30."
Companies have been gradually dialing back on office size and grandness for years, but the recession accelerated the trend as sobered owners let go of their old floor plans and tried new ways to speed productivity, attract talent and cut costs. . . .
Click here for the rest of this article.

But never mind . . . Here in good ol' Fairfax County, Virginia, where change is s-o  m-u-c-h  s-l-o-w-e-r, County planners are still calling for 300 gross square feet per office worker in the latest Reston Task Force planning scenario and the proposed new Comprehensive Plan for the Metrorail station areas.  What that means is, if the market permits, efforts to improve the jobs:housing balance from its current lopsided 14:1 to the hoped for 4:1 in 2030 will actually see it drop only to 11:1--and maybe not at all if Mr. Miscovich's forecast of "a mere 50 square feet" is anywhere near accurate.  Nonetheless, we could add as many as 229,000 jobs to the 82,000 we already have in the station areas if each office worker occupies a full 100 square feet. 

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