Moving Forward! 2017 Commercial Real Estate Trends

Forward-looking thoughts from Kimble Consulting

Commercial real estate has plenty of changes to keep an eye on in the new year. From investments to lending to how spaces and places will actually be used, 2017 promises to be a year of sweeping high-level change as well as continued cultural, technological, and lifestyle shifts.

Collaborative Spaces

Coworking is a booming business. How we work together, the technology we use to stay connected in real-time, and the spaces we create are continuing to favor collaboration. Coworking is exactly what it sounds like. No cubicle mazes. Just a variety of office space options with conference rooms, office basics and cool amenities. Coworkers are either self-employed or working for companies that have decided to limit their overhead by conveniently providing office space near their employees.

Coworking spaces are really more than a place to get work done. They are social spaces and communities of professionals across industries who share their expertise and knowledge while improving their overall well-being. The statistics say people who cowork are “inspired” and “more confident” while working.

The forecasts are saying we can expect 26,000 coworking spaces by 2020 with 3.8 million members. That’s a 41% compounded annual growth rate. Many companies end up moving an average of every 18 months, making a once standard ten-year lease a thing of the past. Coworking spaces are the growing solution. And, with a larger than ever global remote workforce leveraging the benefits of coworking spaces, we are seeing remote workers engaged and connected to necessary resources, including each other.

Even with all our technology and real-time connectedness, it turns out, we actually need face-to-face time too. Coworking space will continue to replace virtual and home offices as a new way to increase creative productivity.


Built In Well-Being

As eating “real” food is a smart nutritional trend, spending our workday in healthy buildings is a growing area of focus and increasingly important to office workers.

A new report from Delos, a wellness real estate and technology firm, and Dodge Data & Analytics entitled “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016” notes the top five rankings among healthier building features now includes: better lighting/daylighting exposure, products that enhance thermal comfort, spaces that enhance social interaction, enhanced air quality, and products that enhance acoustical comfort.

And, the emergence of new certifications such as Well Building offer even more opportunity for a healthy workplace.  From the materials used in the building to the air we breathe to the food amenities offered, Well Building seeks to promote workplace health and welfare.

What this really boils down to is building well-being into the workplace. It’s not enough to find a location that will sit the right amount of people in front of the computer screen and have some apples in the vending machine. A competitive company offers a healthy environment in which to work.

When considering your real estate investment, think about wellness, not just windows and convenient parking. Incorporate healthy materials into your design specifications, create a place to move in your building and offer social spaces throughout the property, not just a water-cooler to gather around. The workplace is more about health and community than ever before.


Get to Work  

How people are getting to and from work is changing and the landscape of traffic, parking, and our environmental footprint is being reimagined. People are increasingly concerned about their personal impact on the environment. Many want to walk or ride a bike when possible. It’s not just individuals, but urban landlords and developers of shopping malls and stadiums who want to decrease their footprint by doing away with or at least shrinking parking lots.

Ride-sharing is changing the way we get around. It’s the next evolution after carpooling and public transit. Uber, Lyft, and eventually driverless cars, are creating new opportunities and solutions to parking. Some developments are considering Uber credits to motivate tenants away from parking spaces. Many projects are creating ride-share friendly spaces to encourage easy drop-off and pick-up, while a less attractive parking garage option is offered for a hundred a month and several blocks away. A few developers are even offering free Uber rides during peak seasons or key times, such as the holidays.

Real estate projections tell us that parking needs will be cut in half over the next 30 years due to an expected decline in vehicle ownership. As this develops, we can expect a new urban landscape to evolve, and 2017 is a gateway to that change.

There’s plenty to keep track of in the upcoming year, but these three trends are on my watch list. We’ll be Ubering to our coworking spaces. We’ll be enjoying more collaborative and social work environments that are built for our well-being. All three of these trends will motivate and inspire employees to stay onboard with the company mission and build in a laser focus on the bottom line.


Anyone else out there have ideas about 2017 trends in real estate?