Need more office buildings? Not likely, U.S. told | The Globe and Mail

Lower demand for new offices buildings, and more renovations instead, as mobile computing shifts needs to collaboration spaces?  A panel of Building Owners and Managers convened at Georgetown University.

The experts agreed that, with the exception of a handful of core markets such as New York and San Francisco, the country’s existing property supply likely already offers more than enough room for its white-collar workers.

In other words, the United States has effectively reached peak office demand ….

“We don’t need another office building,” says Martha O’Mara, a symposium panelist, lecturer at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and managing director of Cambridge, Mass.-based commercial property consulting firm Corporate Portfolio Analytics Inc.

“Our traditional idea of an office space and the idea that as the number of office jobs increase, it will lead to an increase in demand for office space, just doesn’t hold any more.”

The reason, according to Dr. O’Mara, is that most companies already occupy about 50 per cent more office space than they actually need, while technology has drastically changed the post-war work model. Fifty years ago, working from home was simply not an option.

But the shift to a largely information- and services-driven economy and the ubiquity of Internet-based communications has drastically changed that model.

“The idea of people working in a closed office or cubicle in an office doesn’t really work any more,” Dr. O’Mara explains. “I think the understanding about how to efficiently use real estate is only beginning to become obvious in information work.”

Panelists stressed, however, that the U.S. commercial property market will not die if their predictions play out – quite the opposite.

In their view, future activity in most American property markets will shift from new construction to the refurbishment of existing office properties as companies reconfigure their spaces to suit the drastically different needs of Generation Y and millennial workers who are said to prefer working in smaller workstations in light-filled, open-concept, collaboration-driven environments.

“Need more office buildings? Not likely, U.S. told” | Chris Atchison | Feb. 7, 2012 | The Globe and Mail at


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One comment on “Need more office buildings? Not likely, U.S. told | The Globe and Mail
  1. craig kensek says:

    Interesting article. There is still the issue that some positions require a modicum of privacy, even if for no other reason to concentrate and/or make calls. Most organizations, I’ve been in have also been notorius for lack of conferences rooms to hide in to make calls. I’m in the bay area where is investing a small fortune for a new South of Market campus and some other hi tech companies are being give major tax incentives (re, no payroll taxes) to refurbish older buildings and locate in the Tenderloin/Market Street area of San Francisco. The article does mention SF as being an exception.


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