Commercial Property Executive Q&A

May 22, 2018

Emily Kream, director of construction, Irvine Company Office Properties

1. From your experience so far, what are the top 3 amenities C-level executives look for when it comes to their office?

In Chicago, the C-Suite is looking for amenities that focus on and enhance the prestige of wherever they plan to lease space. 

Some of these include beautiful, expansive views from the space, a well-appointed gym or fitness option, a full service dining area with different food choices, and a conference center that is equipped with the right technology. C-level executives expect custom experiences that are intentionally designed for their needs. 

Of course, these needs vary depending on the industry each executive comes from. A larger corporation with more leased space will likely have different needs and wants than a smaller company taking less space. 

2. Has the corner office been completely removed from the new office building design? Will it ever be?

The corner office has definitely not gone away but we are seeing, gradually over time, more and more groups shy away from it. We’re seeing a more egalitarian approach to the way office spaces are configured and it is certainly the way of the future. 

However, the perimeter office concept is still prominent with companies in the financial and law sectors. The nature of those businesses tends to require a bit more “closed-door” work. Overall though, from a design trend perspective, we’re seeing companies push for reductions in the amount of actual offices they are providing. 

3. What alternatives to the traditional office do C-level executives prefer the most?

C-level executives don’t necessarily prefer one type or layout of office space to the traditional office. The most important element for them is that the space is thoughtfully designed to address privacy concerns and encourage collaboration, regardless of the layout. 

Executives need to know that there is a designated place for employees to go, either to communal areas, meeting rooms or enclosed, private conference rooms, to have productive and private conversations. To make these areas effective, well-planned layouts are essential. 

4. Regarding space, is the general trend that of shrinking or making C-level offices larger?

I would have to say that the general trend is that of shrinking C-level offices. Companies are constantly working to make things more efficient and as dense as possible. 

5. There’s a lot of talk right now about accommodating Millennials into the workspace. Do you see other factors starting to play a decisive role in today’s office design as compared to a few years ago?

In general, the younger workforce is putting more emphasis on access to outdoor space and amenities that improve quality of life and productivity in the workplace. Some of these might include customized workspaces to fit the needs of different departments, greener workplace environments and more active workplace environments. With regard to actual workspace design, there is a more egalitarian design direction being demanded. 

It’s important for companies and the C-Suite to note, from a recruitment and retention standpoint, that adding statement amenities that reflect a company’s core values, like a mother’s room, deliver the greatest return on investment. 

6. Is Chicago following close the latest trends in office design or is it a more traditional market?

On one hand, Chicago is a little more traditional but that does not necessarily correlate with being behind on the trends. Office customers and companies in Chicago are quite sophisticated and have a high level of expectation for the spaces they are in. Not to mention, there is a steady new development pipeline here, which has lent itself to a constant need to remain relevant, and cutting edge to compete with the latest new development.  

From a trends perspective, I’d say that Chicago is very competitive when it comes to overall innovation in office design.  

7. (a more general question) What role does technology play in today’s office design landscape?

Thoughtful design and technology integration is essential to bolstering efficiency in the workplace. Office spaces have grown more diverse to support where and how people work. Providing the right technology at different touch down spaces has the ability to make or break the overall effectiveness of the office layout. 

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