JH Berry & Gilbert, Inc

Real Businesses. Real People. Real Estate.

Office Environment and Location: What to Expect in 2018

January 10, 2018

By: John Hardin, vice president of office sales and leasing

John Hardin

2017 was a year of emerging trends in the way both large companies and small businesses approached the use of their office space. From the rise of the coworking environment to more companies utilizing industrial-office flex space, the increasing competition to attract and retain top talent drove many of the trends we saw in 2017. As we enter the new year, here are a few of the things tenants, landlords and property owners can expect for office environment and location in 2018.

Culture is “the” Factor

For many of today’s companies, the culture of the workplace is more important than the location of a company’s office. The days of drop ceilings, hard-walled offices and standard cubicles are over, and now seem to be antiquated business practices. Creating the right culture is mostly for the recruitment and retention purposes of newer generations, who are demanding a better, more creative culture and environment to do their work.

Increased Density

For years, companies have been increasing density to as much as 7+ employees per 1000 square feet of occupied space as they push for efficiencies, reduce offices and find ways to save money.

Flexibility Inside the Office

We are seeing the need for much greater flexibility within the space a company occupies, including fewer hard-wall offices, more open space, coworking space, areas for creativity, collaboration, relaxation and socialization, and places for private retreat zones when there is a need for some peace and quiet.

Having Fun

Today, the modern workforce wants more and more to integrate work, life and play, so the young and the restless are looking for work environments that not only increase their creativity, but help them enjoy themselves at work. Companies are incorporating play into the work space with activities such as ping pong and pool tables, rooftop decks, pinball machines and basketball hoops.

Changing Furniture

Furniture within the office is also changing. Employers are seeing the need for more flexible furniture, fewer standard cubes, and more cubes with glass, sofa chairs and long lunchroom-type tables for group collaboration. Some organizations don’t even provide desks or offices for most of the employees, just work tables and lockers for storage of personal items.

Technology Advancement

As you might expect, technological advancement and 24/7 connectivity is paramount with today’s workforce. It’s truly a must-have for all areas of the office. This can include more technological infrastructure within the space to enable telecommuting employees to be able to have remote conferencing, in addition to giving employees the ability to move around the building with wireless keyboards and headsets.

Close Accessibility and Amenities

Employees are more likely to seek offices close to where they live. Walkability, public transportation, coffee shops, bars, restaurants, outdoor events and biking to work are all attractive aspects of an office location. As a result, many firms are moving to the city center to better accommodate the younger workforce.

 Historic Buildings

Today’s companies are leasing and buying historic buildings with high and open ceilings, brick walls, exposed beams and woodwork. Old buildings are becoming more popular and modern office buildings with drop ceilings and new looks are fading for many smaller firms, especially those wanting to be in the city center.

If you have any questions about the future of office buildings or commercial real estate in Birmingham, Alabama, please give John a call at (205) 226-8620 or visit