From cork boards and fax machines to smart boards and PDFs – what will the Brisbane office look like in 2030?

February 18, 2019 / By  

The office environment is constantly evolving. We’ve seen it move from ranked desks through to cubicle farms and back to informal, open plan spaces. Every change has been matched by advancements in technology. We’ve seen pen and paper give way to the typewriter and then to the personal computer.  Each progression is a chance to rethink the structure of our working environment and the possibility of further advancements.

So what’s next?

Is it co-working? You’re probably shaking your head at the word ‘co-working’ but, as the job market continues to shift, creating more remote and part-time positions, time-poor employees require flexibility. Co-working space has driven an increasing level of demand in the Brisbane office market over the past 12 months.

On a local level, we have seen sub-lease space become less of a feature, in favour of flexible office options. We’ve seen sub-lease vacancy decline 64% over the past three years while co-working space, serviced offices, small and turnkey suites and short term leases grow by 46% pa. (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Growth in co-working 2016-2020
Source: JLL Research

Why has co-working become so popular?

Three reasons, cost effectiveness, de-risking their lease obligations and employee happiness. In 2019, we will continue to see both small and large corporations, begin to occupy agile working spaces. These work environments will provide workers with integrated, open plan, office areas with informal and interactive social spaces. Some of the key trends we will see in these office fit-outs include;

  • Hot desking (no assigned seating)
  • Moveable desks (desks which can be reconfigured to work individually or collaboratively)
  • Overlap zones (the path in which employees are more likely to interact)
  • Break-out spaces (areas in the office designated for worker collaboration)
  • Plants and greenery (help increase employee productivity and morale)
  • Networking events and mentor programs
  • Common administration and secretarial staff for numerous offices

These environments are less formal and include open areas like rooftop terraces, game rooms and event spaces. But, will these spaces and trends sustain the growing workforce and Brisbane population? We have undertaken an analysis of what the office market will look like in 2030.

Figure 2: Projection of Brisbane CBD Office Space

Demand will eventually outweigh supply as Brisbane’s white-collar population continues to increase thanks in part to interstate migration. It is likely that as organisations become ever more cost conscious they will opt for more flexible workspaces. Advancements in technology, particularly communication channels, will see office boundaries fall as proximity becomes less of a factor. Competition in residential developments has made amenity and shared facilities common practice in new projects. We are now seeing this trend shift into office space, particularly in co-working formats.

As this trend continues to gain momentum, we can expect the stock to worker ratio to decline by 2030 as companies become increasingly efficient with the allocation of office space and funding. This will see the utilisation of shared meeting, phone rooms and break-out space, over private segregated work spaces. We will also see more efficient use of resources and technology which will allow employees to work seamlessly from an array of locations.

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