Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CBRE Shakes Up Office Concept With Untethered Workspace

CBRE's open office space
When you enter a company's downtown office headquarters, you usually enter a reception area, and then are ushered into a warren of offices, partitioned cubicles and desks.  Recently many tech companies have broken this mold with office space that looks more like a high-end hotel lobby, with wide-open neighborhoods of chairs, tables, and only an occasional streamlined, modern work desk.  Offices are few, and booked for specific tasks.

For a company in a traditionally behind-the-curve industry like commercial real estate, this kind of revolutionary approach to the work environment would be heresy.  Until now.  CBRE is shaking things up by effecting a sudden shift in the office paradigm.  None of the employees occupy their own enclosed office space, but freely roam and inhabit the company's communal space, taking their personal tools and possessions out of their locker each day.

It's a new look and idea, and one that tailors the idea of workspace to a generation weaned on technology and social media.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "In the airy complex on the top two floors of a Bunker Hill tower, there are no assigned desks or offices. Workers doing similar tasks can join their peers in a 'neighborhood' or plop down on a modernist couch. Even Chief Executive Robert Sulentic books an office by the day and shed many of his possessions as part of the big move last month.

'No family pictures, no tokens, no nothing that is mine,' he said.

Improvements in technology have made framed photos outmoded. 'I have lots of family pictures on my iPhone,' Sulentic said. 'Five years ago we didn't have that.'

When the boss leaves the office at night, he takes everything to an assigned locker or home in a briefcase.

The firm's goal was to reduce rent costs by using its office space more efficiently and to create a template for other CBRE offices around the world.

If it worked, company officials figured, the downtown L.A. office would also be an example for other conservative white-collar firms pondering how to reorganize their workplaces to make them more efficient and appealing to young employees weaned on wireless technology.

Corporations have experimented for years with office-sharing concepts such as 'hoteling,' where workers such as accountants who travel frequently 'check in' to a desk when they are in the office. But examples of conventional white-collar offices where no one has an assigned desk are rare enough in the U.S. that CBRE had to look to its outposts in Europe for ideas.

After touring CBRE offices in Amsterdam, the company's head of operations in Los Angeles and Orange counties, Lew Horne, decided to make what workplace consultants call a 'free address' office in downtown L.A."

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