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CRE Opinion

In Today’s Office Space, Flexibility Is the Name of the Game

Irving Economic Development Partnership's Beth Bowman says North Texas' crop of office spaces offers relocating or expanding businesses a variety of options.
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Courtesy Irving Economic Development Partnership

When it comes to office space, the idea of flexibility is a growing trend that is being adopted by companies of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. While the traditional corporate office may have proven resilient coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, if we learned anything in the past few years, in today’s world flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to creating spaces that work for employers and draw their teams back to the office.

I know from talking to many of our member-investors in Irving-Las Colinas and meeting with prospects considering a move to our community that employees’ workplace preferences are having a significant impact on how employers make real estate choices today. In fact, according to a new report from CBRE Group, more than 65% of office-using companies reported employees had returned to buildings at least some of the time, but 50% of the same employers said they expect to “right size” their office portfolio within the next three years.

Employees want greater flexibility with where and how they work, while employers want to respect their teams’ preferences and also maximize productivity and cost efficiency. This means staying on top of the latest trends in the look and feel of office spaces and for property owners, brokers and tenant reps, having an open mind on the length and terms of leases.

In addition to the tax, regulatory, and quality of life advantages North Texas has for businesses, our crop of office spaces offers relocating or expanding businesses a variety of options. Whether through the modernization of or reinvestment in existing properties or new, ground-up commercial projects, in a region where diversification has served us well, the opportunity for building owners and brokers to capitalize on today’s unique office needs and meet the demand of employers and their teams comes in many forms.

For example, new commercial office projects are increasingly designed and built to accommodate flexible working space and employees’ amenity expectations while also being environmentally friendly. In Irving-Las Colinas, Curative Talent, a leading healthcare staffing agency, provides flexible working space to its professionals with great amenities, including proximity to entertainment, food and lodging with its location at the Toyota Music Factory. Commercial construction projects like CHRISTUS Health and Wells Fargo’s new campus are building spaces with different configurations so employees can work in the environment that best suits them, with access to amenities and outdoor recreational activities.

For a community like Irving-Las Colinas with more than 20 million square feet of commercial office space, flexibility can mean creative re-use of existing infrastructure. One example of this is VariSpace’s building in Las Colinas. Vari purchased the building, formerly home to Zale’s corporate headquarters, in 2018 and renovated it to create a space adaptable to the needs of tenants and including a variety of amenities that give employees a reason to want to come to the office, not only because they must. What was once a headquarters for a single business now houses multiple companies on short- and long-term leases that suit each company’s needs.

Like many North Texas communities, we’re working with building owners to invest in their sites and keep them fresh and competitive. We work closely with our partners at the City of Irving and the Las Colinas Association to ensure modernization and listen to owners and their prospective and current tenants so that we continue to deliver the amenities that they need and expect. 

Regardless of whether a building is built from the ground up to house flexible office space or is adapted to offer key amenities important to today’s employees, I can speak from experience when I say that all companies want to focus on running their business while keeping their workforce working.

When it comes to commercial office space, there is no one right answer; flexibility, whether physical or financial, gives employers and employees the chance to get on with the task of doing business.

As North Texas professionals focused on the evolving office landscape, we all already know what CBRE’s recent report reinforces – that companies are considering and prioritizing everything from walkable amenities and flexible leases to convenient parking and shared facilities like conference spaces, tenant lounges, gyms, restaurants and outdoor gathering spaces.

Our region has succeeded through diversification in the past, and the new age of the office sector is no different. By deploying creativity and open-mindedness to reimagine office spaces in ways that create solutions for employers while also meeting employees’ needs, North Texas will continue to thrive.  

Beth A. Bowman is president and CEO of the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and the Irving Economic Development Partnership.

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