Bringing in natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows like in Colliers’ new North County San Diego office helps make offices more attractive while promoting employee health and well-being.

The Next Step in Workplace Design’s Evolution

Carrie Rossenfeld Office

As SoCal Real Estate recently reported, Colliers International San Diego Region has completed a transformation of its North County San Diego office, resulting in a reimagined workplace that the firm says “provides access to next-level technology and meets the evolving needs of the growing firm,” the company reports. Amid a spate of brokerage firms reinventing their offices, from CBRE’s Workplace360 concept to JLL’s renovated space, we spoke with Andy LaDow, managing director of Colliers International San Diego Region about the company’s new workplace strategy and the next step in workplace design’s evolution.

Andy LaDow | Images courtesy Colliers International

SoCal Real Estate: How would you describe your company’s new workplace strategy?
Our new workplace strategy is people focused. As a rapidly growing brokerage firm, our most valuable asset is our strong team of brokers and staff that help accelerate our clients’ real estate success. Our new workplace strategy strengthens Colliers International regionally by increasing collaboration of specialized brokerage teams in both of our San Diego offices. Our reimagined spaces are designed to increase connection and communication between our professionals with open lines of sight, oversized communal meeting spaces, and technology-focused workspaces. These changes to our physical work environment and access to next-level technology have already helped promote the continued success of our brokerage teams.

How does the new design match with current office trends?
The continued office design trend is creating open spaces that support a more mobile and technology-focused working style. Colliers International’s new workplace strategy in San Diego was designed to meet this trend, which is the way our team of professionals work today. Traditional offices, built before the last few years, were typically designed around central, communal space with closed offices lining the perimeter and high-walled cubicles in front. That is exactly how our old Central San Diego and North County offices were laid out. Today’s offices are drawing communal spaces throughout the office and creating more open and flexible workspaces. This creates a more egalitarian workspace that promotes collaboration throughout the entire office. Instead of having to walk out of your office and down the corner to speak to a colleague, better technology connections and open lines of sight create more efficient communication. Additionally, workspaces are becoming smaller, providing better technology access and supporting employee wellness. Highlighting this trend, our new workspaces are designed with the latest technology capacities and sit-stand work desks.

What do you see as the next step in workplace design’s evolution?
Architecture, new building materials and energy management technologies will continue to drive more employee access to natural light and air, particularly in mild climates like San Diego. Architects are designing the next-gen buildings to move cores (elevators, stairwells, etc.) out of the middle, which blocks sight lines to the ends. Also, in most existing office buildings, the window-panel heights are around 5 feet, and traditional dropped tile ceilings are around 8-9 feet. Even as more tenants remove tiles and open up ceilings with taller heights, you are still stuck with a 5-foot window line. As this trend continues, future office buildings will be designed with expanded window-curtain walls to match these higher ceilings. Also, whenever possible, and not just on the ground floor, it will be important to find ways to bring the outside into the workplace. Most existing office buildings designed with balconies have struggled to make them easily accessible, and therefore they are rarely used. The ability to truly open up a curtain window wall to an outdoor area is a trend we have seen in the restaurant industry and will likely see in office space.

What else should our readers know about this new strategy?
The culmination of Colliers International’s new workplace strategy implementation has helped support our continually growing firm and expand our regional team. Even further, though, our strategy is a living case study for our clients looking to maximize workplace-design efficiency and promote increased collaboration of employees. Our professionals have embraced our new strategy, which has led to the continued success of our firm. Many of our brokerage teams have brought their clients through our office to showcase how they can implement ideas and lessons we learned in their workspaces. It’s been rewarding to see not only the excitement of our internal team, but also how the innovative spaces have inspired our clients.