A growing trend in the world of corporate office leasing is the concept of eliminating the old standard of individuals having their own private offices and instead leasing space that is predominantly wide open. And we’re not talking about just the rank and file or middle managers giving up their prized offices; we’re talking senior management and even in some cases the President & CEO.

Companies are now trying to harness the power and energy of their younger workforces and are beginning to believe in the benefits of collaboration rather than isolation. By having their staff work within an open environment they are finding that ideas are shared more readily and problems can often be solved through the collaboration of many. Access to an expert in a particular field maybe just a desk or two away instead down the hall, squirreled away behind a closed door.

Major accounting firms such as Deloitte and Ernst & Young have recently unveiled their new office layouts which provide for more meeting rooms and less personal space, even to the degree of no assigned seating. That trend is called “hot-desking” and capitalizes on the findings that nearly 30% of US offices are vacant during the day. If you need some private space to deal with a client for example, you simply book a meeting room online for the length of time you need it.   Networks are established within the leased space that allow you to “plug-in” virtually anywhere, whether at workstations or even in staff lounge areas.   Someone could work in a different spot each day of the week. One day at this desk, the next day at that desk and maybe the third day in a meeting room.

The trend is apparently catching on with even the most conservative companies. Recruiting and retaining staff have enormous costs and by embracing new concepts such as the collaborative working environment, companies can be perceived as better suited to attract potential future employees.

We have a more mobile workforce and accordingly, more and more new office buildings are now being constructed with less offices and more collaborative space. The result is a reduction in the overall size of the leased premises but a potential increase in the number of staff within that space.

At one time in the 1970’s the amount of space per employee was as high as 500 – 750 square feet per person.   Some are projecting that could now go as low as 150 square feet per person within the next few years or even lower. To put that into perspective imagine yourself and six of your fellow co-workers cozying into about a thousand square feet.   It’s a concept that not everyone will find appealing and it will be interesting to see how many company leaders buy into the idea of not having that prestigious C-suite to call home any longer.

Maybe you should close your door and enjoy your private office while you still have the chance.

Kenneth W. Jones, CMA
Office Tenant Representative