Adaptive Spaces

Big Ideas for the Future of Offices in Our Region and Beyond

April 1, 2021 3 Minute Read

By Lewis C. Horne


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As the conversation around bringing employees back to the office intensifies across the country, there is a tremendous amount of focus on what the “new normal” looks like for the workplace. One thing is clear: Companies want and need innovative workspaces that drive culture, fuel collaboration, encourage creativity, and ensure productivity. And importantly, they need a work environment that gives employees who have been working remotely for months, a reason to come back.

When we moved into our Workplace360 office in Downtown Los Angeles in 2012, it was considered a radically innovative workspace, incorporating a flexible free-address floorplan, a myriad of collaborative space, seamless technology and a focus on wellness. To this day, it’s still held up as one of the leading examples of forward-thinking workplace strategy, demonstrating that the physical office can fundamentally improve the way people work. This is the ultimate role of the office—it always has been and always will be. Which leads us to the big question: What is the next evolution of the workplace and how will it continue to fuel the way we work, even as a more hybrid workforce emerges?

This critical question inspired our team in Southern California—along with our Workplace experts, Corporate Real Estate team and CBRE Design team—to explore what the future workplace looks like for our own company and for our clients’ offices as well. Specifically, we formed a “think tank” to brainstorm big, blue-sky ideas—nothing was off the table and we were committed to challenging our assumptions. We spent several months engaging with our employees, exploring case studies around the world and reimagining the elements of the physical office.

Through this process, four guiding principles emerged that we believe can serve as the basis for companies as they think through their go-forward office environment:

  1. Magnetize the office to enhance the workplace experience: The new office environment needs to be a destination that entices employees to want to be there, driven by unique technology, tools, resources and programs not available remotely, and by an environment that truly supports and encourages collaboration.
  2. Intentionally support a hybrid workforce: The office of the future must incorporate a greater degree of intentionality in supporting a hybrid workforce, using technology to help employees move seamlessly between the office and remote work locations, and to enable them to accomplish work in the office that they simply can’t do remotely. As one of our employees put it, future offices must support a “melting pot of physical and virtual interactions” by identifying and providing the right mix of spaces and technologies.
  3. Coworking: Flex space will have a place in the overall workplace strategy for many companies, and its role in meeting the needs of the future workforce should be explored.
  4. Drive culture: Culture has taken a hit for many companies during the year of remote work. Ensuring the office reflects the company’s brand experience, and at the same time its nuanced local culture, is going to be more critical than ever. The future workplace must be viewed not just as a place to work, but as the physical embodiment of the company’s values, brand and local character in order to create a sense of connection for employees that is lacking in the remote work environment.

I can’t wait to share more about our process over the next several months as we bring these ideas to life in our own offices. As our clients have come to expect from us, we look forward to leading by example in this critical discussion that impacts every company today, and we invite you all to join us on this journey.