Tech-Savvy Workforce Drives Demand for Innovative Office Space

Markets across the world are experiencing more economic balance than they have in years and office employment is growing in 2013, according to the Global Office Midyear 2013 Report from Colliers International. Specifically, in the United States, intellectual capital, energy and education markets are driving this growth.

This has been particularly true in Denver. Increasingly recognized as an entrepreneurial, tech-savvy marketplace, Denver is welcoming this new class of employees with vibrant office centers that cater to the changing needs and desires of rising professionals.

Contributing to the growth, several companies, including Charles Schwab, Arrow Electronics and Hitachi, have relocated to the metro area. These company expansions are also tightening office vacancies to the lowest level since 2007, according to the 2013 National Office Report released by Marcus & Millichap.

While technology-focused employers and lower office vacancies are driving demand for new office space in Denver, the younger professionals and tech-savvy industries are requiring a change in the design and functionality of office buildings. As the majority of today’s workforce shifts to younger generations, the demand for collaborative rooms, office-wide wifi, and adaptable work spaces that allow employees more freedom to move about the office is the new normal.

One evolution in the design of an office space is smaller private work spaces for employees. Where five years ago, an individual was allotted 175 square feet of space, the current demand is for 130 square feet of private space per employee. Offsetting that decrease is a dramatic increase in common space designed to foster collaboration, innovation and socializing. For the commercial real estate industry, this translates into creating locations and amenities that go beyond the traditional work space requirements. The industry must provide office products that are as forward-thinking as their occupants.

Along with the changing demand for space and its new class of entrepreneurs, Denver is also seeing a shift in the interior design of buildings. Companies are looking for modern spaces that reflect the current high-tech era. Exposed ceilings, wood columns and edgy designs are sought after to match the culture of the workplace.

For the young professional that may work extended hours, employers search for office locations that provide the freedom to easily leave the office during breaks and return to work. Locations near bike trails and paths, popular restaurants and public transportation are all desired amenities. With accessibility a common desire, the redevelopment of Union Station in the LoDo District is driving office development in that area and the neighborhood around the 16th Street Mall is seeing increased demand for boutique office space due to its numerous restaurant options and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.

Denver’s changing corporate landscape is redefining the city’s office sector. As developers we are responding to the young workforce and changing attitudes about how workspace is used in order to remain relevant in a competitive marketplace that has ample opportunity for expansion.

This article originally appeared in the Colorado Real Estate Journal on August 7, 2013.