office scene will
continue to thrive
The pandemic has sparked new trends and new opportunities
Atlanta’s creative office and tech scene, home to both established businesses and start-ups, has surged over the last five years. Fueled by a low cost of living, low cost of doing business, and a direct pipeline to diverse talent, Atlanta’s creative office market beckoned companies of every size and stripe with open spaces, cool décor and hip neighborhoods. And then came COVID-19.
The pandemic has affected the city’s office market. While the creative sector was certainly not immune, we believe the disruption will fuel growth in this coveted segment of the market. Creative and tech tenants have an inherent culture that adapts quickly and is primed to handle uncertainty, which will allow them to thrive amid so much uncertainty.
Rightsizing and other trends
While a return to normalcy may be far in the future, numerous opportunities have begun to crystalize in Atlanta’s creative office market. Rightsizing, plug-and-play opportunities, innovative solutions for space and a shift in leverage that benefits tenants are now all in play.
In the near-term we will undoubtedly see some companies explore options to right-size their space, especially as they navigate keeping their workforce safe amidst staggered and flexible schedules. In turn, this provides more opportunities for plug-and-play subleases offered at below-market rates – a great option for start-ups, who will reap the benefits of a collaborative and cool space without having to pay top dollar.
The office space itself will also likely change. We will begin to see more innovative solutions to collaborative space, as well as barriers and higher walls between people/desks, and a pause in hoteling for the foreseeable future. Some employers might prefer lower floor locations in office towers, in order to avoid elevators due to social distancing concerns.
Technology will drive new efficiencies and help offices institute safety measures. Some elements we expect to see include conference technologies that make booking rooms easier, new furniture systems that allow for collaboration and account for personal space, and an increase in touchless or voice activated products. Advanced video conferencing equipment will also be in high demand.
Tech companies will also improve their existing systems to entice their employees to come back to the office rather than working from home. We will likely see an increase in high-speed fiber optic internet installations and immersive technologies.
Another effect of the pandemic is the shift from a landlord-friendly market to a tenant-friendly market. Tenants now have considerable leverage in negotiations, but with so much uncertainty in the market many aren't ready to make a long-term commitment.
Landlords adapting as well
Creative office landlords are taking their own steps to adapt to the changing COVID-19 climate by implementing increased safety measures and updating amenities. Many landlords are taking advantage of tenants not being in the office regularly by completing needed lobby and amenity renovations. Landlords have also stepped up their technology game by offering building apps that help manage tenant request, concerns, and new building protocols.
While landlords are keeping a close eye on the work from home switch, they can find comfort in studies that show innovation is driven by in-person collaboration and chance encounters at the office. An impromptu conversation, or creative collisions, could lead to the next big idea—a big selling point for creative and tech tenants.
But, what’s the new vibe?
It’s true, the creative office vibe may be temporarily subdued from mandatory WFH, but not for long. Most of our creative office tenants are eager to get back to the fun, energetic culture of the office. While technology has enabled our connections outside of the office, glitches and audio issues are daily side effects. It’s difficult to foster a sense of culture or recruit new talent virtually.
Creative office is a space that enables collaboration, innovation, and impromptu conversations. And, while tech has certainly proven employees can be productive while away from the office, the office is an invaluable tool that promotes culture, innovation and drives recruitment.
Creative office is not going anywhere, it will be reimagined, it will evolve and it will thrive.
One-on-one with Mark Cuban
I sat down with my friend and fellow entrepreneur, Mark Cuban, and had a similar conversation on start-ups. Watch now to learn why Mark thinks this moment in time presents a unique opportunity for start-ups.
Have questions? Let’s connect.