Questions and Trends from Commercial Clients

Author: Pam Shrout


As SHP’s business development specialist, it’s my job to build and maintain connections between our clients and the brilliant minds within our firm. Having a small part in bringing our clients’ visions to life is perhaps my favorite part of my job. I’m involved in meaningful and perspective-shifting conversations about industry trends and the unique challenges that our commercial clients are facing.

In 2023, there is no shortage of questions to consider when designing the ideal workspace. Here are some of the most common questions I receive from commercial real estate clients.

Attracting & Retaining Talent

Attraction and retention are the two main buzzwords that I hear in many of my conversations. Right now, it seems like everyone is hiring, and clients are thinking differently about how they can bring in new talent and keep the talent they have by making the workplace a destination.

Organizations and businesses that are keen to hire new employees and build a strong core team are approaching this challenge with the addition of office amenities—things like coffee bars, beer halls, workout rooms, and even game rooms with high-tech features like VR headsets. Creating “cool” spaces can be a great way to showcase your corporate culture as well as provide opportunities for employees to unwind and socialize (which have become more valuable than ever in the wake of COVID-19). Employers are also realizing the importance of making their spaces physically supportive for their teams by prioritizing elements like natural light and open spaces. It’s not about building more walls, but adding more value for your team.

Adapting to the “Hybrid World”

The COVID-19 pandemic upended so many aspects of our world, including the commonly held idea that employees should be in the office 5 days a week. Following the sudden and widespread introduction of “work from home” policies in 2020 and 2021, today’s employees are demanding the flexibility to work from places that aren’t the office; employers are taking that input seriously, with 74% of U.S. companies using or planning to implement a permanent hybrid work model.

To that end, it’s become essential for offices to be technologically capable for remote workers to connect with their in-office peers (think high-quality video conferencing technology and software or solutions that allow employees to connect and collaborate from different locations). And when employees do come into the office, it’s important to consider the need for flexible, multi-functional spaces that can accommodate solo work and collaboration with their on-site and remote co-workers. Offering a diverse mix of spaces—like telephone booths that provide privacy and small huddle rooms for groups to meet—can go a long way in making sure every employee feels empowered to do their best work.

Most importantly, as the way we work continues to change, it will be essential for building owners and employers to focus on “future-proofing” their offices for the years ahead—to keep an eye on how the industry is changing and make their spaces similarly adaptable, flexible and inclusive for all.

Moving vs. Redesigning

One more major question I hear from clients is about the big decision to move to a different space. If your business is growing or changing, it might seem like moving into a new office or building is the only way to meet the needs of your organization and employees—but that isn’t always the case! More often than not, there are creative ways to “reimagine” your existing environment and uncover underutilized or “wasted’ space that, with a bit of work, can add value to your organization. I always recommend bringing in an architectural specialist to walk through the existing office and talk through the unique needs of your business before making the decision to move. Implementing changes within your existing environment is almost always easier than packing up everything and moving to a new spot.

If relocating to a different office is inevitable, however, there is still value in working with an architect to determine how you can best utilize your new space. Indeed, this practice has become much more common in the past few years; many clients that are expanding or downsizing and looking for new offices in our region have opted to walk through their options with an architect in tow. Leaning on someone with expertise in workplace design can help business owners identify the benefits and drawbacks of a given space and start thinking about how a given environment can be best leveraged to the benefit of the business and its employees.

Helping our clients adapt to the shifting landscape and succeed is incredibly rewarding—and as the future of commercial real estate continues to evolve, I am eager to see what new challenges and opportunities appear along the way.