Tomorrow’s Office Workers And Their Spaces: Patricia Lynne At NAR Annual 2011

What’s coming tomorrow?  Wouldn’t we all like to know?  That was the message at the jammed  NAR 2011 Annual session “Views From The Frontier Of Commercial Real Estate.”  What will we be doing in our offices?

Well, never mind traditional offices.

“Hold up your smart phones,” said Patricia Lynn CCIM, speaker and principal of consulting firm Lynnk.  “These are the office of the future.”

In a presentation long on thoughtful asides about the state of office utilization patterns and demographic changes, Lynn spelled out the four principles of the future office worker profile:  Talent, Technology, Transportation and Tolerance.  Creative talent, high technology, high mobility, and social tolerance.

Tomorrow’s office worker, culled from a US population growth that appears on pace to hit 450 million in 2050, will be of the creative class, saud Lynn.  “These are the knowledge workers, who think, and use technology creatively and who want to be near other knowledge workers.”  Today, 30% of the workforce is in the creative class – but Lynn says the number will climb to 50% in just a few years. The more she spoke, the farther away the traditional conception of the office cubicle farm faded into the mists of history.

The millenials (that generation sometimes dubbed “generation Y”) working habits and office needs are radically different from what the industry is used to providing.  They tend toward “fun, multitasking, collaboration, and no boundaries between work/home/family”.  This translates into office space with fewer fulltime employes per square foot, or as  author Jim Heid put it: “The office of the future is no office.”

Not quite.  It turns out that there’s office space in the future, it’s that the millenials are using three distinct places: the traditional corporate HQ about 30% of the time, the home office another 30% of the time, leaving a giant opportunity in what Lynn called “the third place – a kind of Starbucks on steroids.  Slides followed showing new working spaces based not on lease occupancy but on membership – anywhere from $150-$425 a slot – where the millenials stop to connect, collaborate and create.

Get a full copy of Lynn’s presentation at PlaybackNAR.


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  • Linda

    November 13, 2011

    I also heard that gen y are working more non traditional hours. That work may begin later in the day and continue deeper into the evening –

    • admin

      November 13, 2011

      That’s true. Almost every usage pattern we’ve come to expect from office space is being rewritten. As with most big trends, the primary markets do it first and most, but I think it’s safe to bet that secondary and tertiary markets will follow suit when millennial workers come to replace the aging-out decision makers in those markets.

  • Greg Schenk SIOR CNE

    December 2, 2011

    we have seen much more lease restruturing and renewals than relocations the last twenty four months. Owner users have virtually disappeared as companies have retained cash. Flexibility like Patricia discusses is becoming more important and more small meetings held in informal places are now the norm.

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