Waiting for the Workplace Wave to Crash

Yahoo’s recent decision requiring all work from home employees to return to the office was both controversial and newsworthy.  Even Bill Gates has weighed in on the controversy, calling the decision “counter” to giving “employees more flexibility” in a CNNMoney interview.  But was it the right decision?

At OfficeLeaseCenter.com, we have focused our efforts for the past year on identifying and serving the real estate requirements of the technology or “growth” sector in New York City.  Collectively, we have challenged many of the status quo assumptions of the real estate market, such as long-term leases, personal guarantees, raw or unfinished spaces and lengthy lease documents, to name a few.  Very few landlords have changed their way of structuring leases to accommodate this burgeoning sector.

But guess what?  The reality is that as these young companies and their executive teams mature, a younger workforce will step into their shoes.  This future workforce will have grown up on mobile technology, social media, live streaming media, the “third screen” and all of the other current hallmarks of technology.  This generation’s expectations for the workplace will be much different from the mainstream office today - In short, today’s technology workforce will mirror the entire workforce of the near future.

In the past, central controls such as dress-codes, business hours, office hierarchies, corporate politics and internal meetings had a very specific role - the management of each individual’s productivity.  In large organizations such as Yahoo’s, where productivity issues may have become rampant, such controls were needed to “right the ship”.  It is likely that in the near future, after Yahoo’s culture has been successfully tweaked, that the workforce flexibility freedoms will return.  They must return, for once employees have been liberated (by technology), it will be very difficult to return to those types of controls.  It will be necessary to offer the future workforce complete workplace flexibility - or face a shortage of employees...

In other news, visiting properties with a technology firm recently, we came across the previous tenant’s server room.  It felt like being the archeologist who discovers dinosaur fossils or Tut’s tomb!  Historically, large or small, the server room constituted a portion of the total space that was allocated to hosting local shared documents, email files and in some cases, performing key business functions.

Today more and more of these server rooms are being deployed in the cloud.  Whether through GoogleApps, AWS or other cloud hosted services, the need for office-based server rooms is no longer critical.  This is great news for the CFO of a tech company.  Not only does the company gain back a significant amount of usable space, but the IT, air-conditioning, raised flooring, electrical power and redundant power sources required by server rooms make it very expensive real estate.  Not to mention that this back-office function occupied prime space on the office floor.  A 5,000 sf tenant with a 10’ x 10’ server room was spending 2-5% of it’s total real estate costs on a server room.   For a smaller tenant, it could be even more.. Taken over a multi-year lease, this savings is significant.

At OfficeLeaseCenter.com, we recognize the changes ahead in both the workforce and the workplace.  It is our mission to get onboard the crest of this wave and ride off into the sunset with tomorrow’s workforce.  We prefer this scenario to the alternative - building a workplace sandcastle and waiting onshore for the wave to crash... and ending up with a faceful of sand!