Seeking Bay Area office space? Here’s what startups need to know

Seeking Bay Area office space?
Here’s what startups need to know

San Francisco office rents remain scarce and fueled by continued growth of tech companies charged by capital raised IPOs

Why a project management firm is essential in your search

Home to tech titans like Google, Apple, and Facebook, California currently ranks as the number one state millennials are moving to. The San Francisco Bay Area is an especially key destination for these educated, mostly mobile workers. Not only Gen Y seek great food and countless outdoor activities the Bay Area offers but also proximity to success stories in the tech world, like Slack’s recent IPO and hotly anticipated public debuts from the likes of Postmates and Airbnb.

Top 10 U.S. cities for startups and entrepreneurs. Infographic by Business.org

 

When it comes to office space, though, demand outpaces supply right now. Startups moving to the Bay Area will have to navigate a rather crunched market — but it’s by no means impossible.

 

We spoke with Robert Tasker, CEO and Principal at CM Commercial Real Estate in San Francisco, who offered some advice for this competitive and saturated tenant leasing market. For entrepreneurs/startups and tenants seeking to relocate to or within the Bay Area, here are some key questions to consider during your search.

1. What does a typical Bay Area office need?

Thanks to pioneering tech companies like Apple, Google, and Salesforce changing expectations, offices today need to be more than just a place where employees sit at desks. Companies moving to the Bay Area or relocating their offices need to evolve and redefine their office for various workstyles and shared open spaces to encourage cross-functional collaboration and creativity.

Even traditional industries, such as law and the financial sectors, are recognizing that today’s offices need to not just foster individual productivity but also serve as spaces to hold meetings and events, and be able to expand down the road as the company attracts more talent. In short, companies today need to be looking for space that is adaptable to the rapidly changing needs of the business world.

2. How can a project management firm improve my search?

Once potential office spaces are shortlisted with your broker, engaging a project manager to help evaluate the properties from a constructability standpoint is to your advantage. Enlisting a PM firm can streamline the process in budgeting your space for buildouts or designing effective open office layouts. An experienced PM firm can help assemble a tenant’s budget, keep it under control and review vendor proposals and suggest cost effective strategies.

Together with your broker, a project manager will tailor your office search around your specific needs as a company: how much square footage you’ll need to accommodate future growth, the ratio of public to private spaces in the office, number of conference rooms, and the level of amenities you should be offering, including onsite food options, wellness rooms, bike storage, and micro-kitchens. These are all part of work-life integration millennials now expect. Unlike an architect or interior designer, who has one specific focus, PM teams are experts in factoring all details into an office search while still keeping your move within budget.  

The right space is crucial for attracting and retaining new talent and staying ahead of the competition. Partnering with the right commercial real estate broker and enlisting an experienced project management firm can simplify the tenant leasing process.

3. Where can a new company find affordable Bay Area options?

Sure, the San Francisco Bay Area can be a challenging leasing market to penetrate, but working with an experienced broker alongside a project management firm can uncover quite a few more options than might first be obvious.

For example, CM Commercial analyzes market data on local brokers, landlords, and resources to help clients find office space. Startups who need to move into a space quickly but not lock themselves into a long-term lease might consider an interim solution like a sublease, coworking space or direct space that is ready to go without major tenant improvement work. CM Commercial helps companies find these options quickly because they closely track the market and advise tenants to evaluate all possible options for their business.

4. Coworking or traditional office space?

Flex working is a top demand among Millennials and Gen X employees, and often companies turn to coworking spaces as affordable ways to provide it. Right now, the flexible workspace market is expected to represent 30 percent of all offices by 2030, and San Francisco has the most coworking spaces per capita in the United States.

According to Robert Tasker, coworking isn’t the only way to provide flexible work and typically is not the least expensive option. Coworking companies build the price of improvements to the space into tenants’ rent. In an overpriced market such as the SF Bay Area, this can actually end up costing the company more than they would incur with a traditional office lease. Again, it depends on the company, its headcount, and plans for the future, but it’s important to understand the economics behind coworking spaces before you settle into any long-term arrangement with one.

Make no mistake, the SF Bay Area office market is a complex, intricate market to navigate when you’re a startup or seeking to move. Partnering with the right team during the leasing process can uncover a whole new world of options you might not have even realized existed.

Begin your search for your company’s new office space in the City by the Bay today.

 

Thank you to Robert Tasker of CM Commercial Real Estate for his valuable input on this piece.


How to spark inspiration, not fear, about moving to an open-plan office

How to spark inspiration, not fear, about moving to an open-plan office

Photo courtesy and used with permission by One Workplace

Successful change management starts with making everyone feel involved in the process

A growing number of office and facilities managers are tasked with getting employees on board and excited at the idea of moving to an open-plan office. That’s no small feat in a world where people love to point out the distractions, noise, and lack of privacy often associated with these spaces.

The good news: open-plan offices have many benefits, and moving to one doesn’t necessarily mean the death of productivity for your employees. If you are in the process of trying to convince your company to transition to one, here are a few steps to keep in mind:

Turn change into a chance to collaborate

Most people fear any kind of change, especially when it comes to the way they work. Rather than dismissing employees’ concerns about noise or privacy,  turn those fears into an opportunity to use one of the key benefits of open-plan offices: collaboration.

The Gensler U.S. Workplace Survey 2019 found that team building and collaboration are ranked highest in terms of what people think will build a great workspace experience. And you can manipulate your space to enable that kind of group-focused setting.

At The Bridge Group, we recently worked with a medical services client who was able to foster healthy collaboration in an open-office setting. We transitioned them from high-walled cubicles to an open layout coupled with private spaces. At the same time, the company designated what kinds of meetings warranted those closed spaces. If the group was only two to three people, the meeting was to be held out on the floorplan. For more formal meetings that included more people, where sensitive information was being discussed, the project manager proposed “team rooms” that could accommodate up to six people. These were equipped with writable walls and interactive displays.

Highlight the middle ground between “open” and “closed”

The medical company’s approach highlights another important aspect of the open office, and one the Gensler survey detailed at length: most workers don’t want a totally open or closed setting. In the survey, 77% of respondents “consider environments that fall between these two extremes to be ideal.”

As the infographic below shows, that middle ground includes desks with low panels around them for partial privacy, shared offices, where smaller teams of three to six people sit in a space together, and on-demand private space when it’s needed, like soundproof phone rooms and meeting areas.

The survey notes: “Environments that are mostly open environments but provide ample on-demand private space have both the highest effectiveness and the highest experience scores.”

Tour a working open office

For some teams, understanding what this middle-ground entails is best illustrated by taking people to an actual office that’s implemented these tactics and running a successful version of the open office. If you’re finding a lot of pushback from employees in your discussions,

The Bridge Group can find an office that’s willing to show its workspace and take your employees, so they can experience a working space first-hand. That way they’ll get a better understanding of how open-offices function in real life.

Give employees a say in their own space

That “hands-on” approach to winning employees over can work inside your existing office, too. Create a mockup of the new office space people can actually visit, bring their laptops to, and hold meetings in. Give them some time to try working in this space, and be sure to include the chance for them to offer feedback (via surveys, for example).

While the buck may stop at you for many of the final decisions, giving your employees this kind of involvement helps them feel they’re part of the decision-making process and not just having change thrust upon them. The more you can do to help employees of multi-generations envision their team collaborating in an open setting, the more likely they’ll embrace the transition process with open arms and forget their initial hesitation.

Learn more about what it takes to transition and design your custom open office workplace by contacting us today. Stay tuned for our next blog, which will explore the open-open office plan from the eyes of a construction project manager with expertise in actual layout strategies.

 


2019 San Francisco workplace office design trends

2019 Workplace design predictions

2019 Workplace Design Predictions

2019 San Francisco workplace office design trends

These trends will Influence your office's corporate real estate footprint

As we kick off 2019 by partnering with clients new and old, we’re excited to pause and consider what design trends will shape our workplace in the coming year.

In 2018, we saw more companies focusing on designing for wellness and creating flexible workspaces where employees can seek solitude or work collaboratively. Here are six workplace trends our team thinks facilities managers and real estate professionals will be focusing on in 2019.

More flex space

Since open offices are here to stay, we predict flexible workspaces that allow both focused, independent work and group projects to become even more of a priority. More importantly, it’s what employees want: 53% of employees surveyed in mid-2018 value working in different spaces throughout the day.

Many clients have been adding additional non-work spaces for collaboration, such as coffee bars or micro-kitchens. These spaces offer opportunities for interaction between teams and the casual exchange of ideas.

Increased focus on the outdoors

Given the studies that show incorporating plant life into your workspace can help ease employee stress, we expect more companies will start introducing outdoor elements to their designs. Biophilic design, which involves using natural design elements like sources of natural light and fresh air, is especially appealing for departmental managers seeking to improve team productivity and reduce mental strain.

This could come in the form of living walls and more houseplants in communal spaces. It could also be created by placing open office desks near windows for employees to enjoy throughout the day and shared communal spaces on the interior of the floor plate.

More comfortable, home-like spaces

Research suggests that more comfortable office spaces can improve productivity. Some companies, such as our client Redbubble, created a soothing home environment by fashioning a meeting space after a cozy library.

Redbubble cozy library and meeting space

More growth into co-working spaces

Most people think co-working spaces are only for freelancers and small businesses. However, many larger companies are busting that myth and leasing co-working spaces to provide flexibility in their real estate strategy.

In mid-2018, Facebook announced that it would be leasing almost all of WeWork’s latest co-working space in Mountain View, California. We suspect more companies will be following Facebook’s lead in 2019. Partnerships with co-working spaces allow larger companies to get available office space faster for projects requiring a quick turnaround, without requiring a large spend on buildout.

More retrofitting old warehouses

Companies continue to look for ways to differentiate their facilities from others in order to attract top talent. One strategy that will continue to gain traction is be renovating old buildings, such as warehouses, into high-tech office space. The exposed beams and high ceilings add character to an office and are defining elements for tech companies such as Gusto. The HR software company recently renovated Pier 70 in San Francisco to create a fresh, unique space for employees to work and collaborate.

What facilities or workplace trends do you think we’ll be seeing more of in 2019? We'd love to hear from you!

Retrofitting old warehouses for modern office workspaces trending for 2019 and beyond.
Gusto’s new home at Pier 70 tells a story about history, community, and relationships. Photo credit to Gensler.

 

 

 


How to get your team on board with your next office move

Managing Employee Expectations: How To Get Your Team On Board With Your Next Office Move

Since most of us will spend an average of almost nine hours at work each and every day, working in a space that reflects our styles and preferences is critical for workplace happiness. For many people, moving into a new office offers an exciting opportunity to re-imagine a space where you spend a large chunk of your time. But for others, moving offices can feel like an extra stressor on top of existing responsibilities.

Team leaders need to be prepared to manage employee expectations and guide them through the transition. Before you start planning your next move, study these approaches to helping your employees view the change in a positive light.

    1. Deliver Consistent Communication – It’s critical to start discussing the move with your employees early in the process. In particular, make sure you announce the new location, when the move will be happening, and how employees can prepare as soon as you can. It’s important to give them as much advance notice regarding these decisions as possible so they can get used to the idea. Make sure to highlight some of the upsides of the new space in your communications, such as easier commutes for employees or upgraded facilities.
    2. Get Employees Involved – Employees need to feel that their voice is being heard during the design process. Before you start, consider sending out a survey to understand your employees’ needs and ask department leads to confirm headcount numbers and growth plans. You should also consider inviting team leaders to be part of the design process during certain stages, including finalizing the fit plan and furniture selection. It’s important to convey deadlines to getting information to avoid having to make changes later which can be costly and add time to the project.
    3. Give Tours of the New Site – Seeing the space during construction can help foster excitement and ease potential negatives among employees who are reluctant to get on board. You’ll need to coordinate with your general contractor, but many can accommodate hosting tours in the late afternoon when the workers have left for the day. You’ll want to keep the groups small to ensure safety on site, so send out a signup list where people can reserve their spot on a first come, first serve basis.
      The Bridge Group LLC's office build-out in SOMA for San Francisco client.

      Be sure to warn people to wear pants and close-toed shoes and ask your contractor to have hard hats and safety vests available.

    4. Hold a Move Discussion – It’s important to reserve some time during company all hands meetings to discuss the move. You may want to put together a slide deck showing the look and feel of the new space, maps highlighting neighborhood amenities, and photographs of any upgrades that the employees might enjoy, like new sit-stand desks or improved AV/VC in meeting rooms.
    5. Make it Fun – Preparing for a move can be a lot of work, so you need to add an element of fun. For example, many of our clients typically hold a purge day to give everyone an opportunity to clean out their desks and storage areas. Sounds stressful, right? It doesn’t have to be. Bring in food, drink and create contests with prizes to make the process more enjoyable.

Although most people think of moving as painful, if you get employees excited about the new location, it’s easier for them to see the payoff behind all the hard work associated with an office move. Engaging your employees in the company relocation process with the tips outlined is a valuable strategy which will have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Has your organization experienced a recent move? We’d love to hear what other tips may have made your transition positive for everyone. Please comment below.