Stats Say 2017 Will Be The Year Of The Office Construction Boom

Forget working remotely: Cities are replacing their mean streets with green trees.

By Jeff Vasishta February 2, 2017

If we’re all supposed to be working from home or a hammock in the Caribbean, why are analysts predicting that 2017 will see a massive increase in office construction? Researchers from Dodge Data & Analytics anticipate a ten percent increase in office construction starts—and ten million more square feet—over 2016.

It seems the millennials are to blame. It turns out that not all want to get away to an exotic location with a backpack and an internet connection. Many like the idea of showing up for a job but just don’t want the inconvenience of a long commute or a dull workspace. Companies are building urban offices near public transportation to attract millennials who want to live near work. Pedestrian-friendly locations with plenty of trees near nightlife and transit hubs are ideal.

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There is also the fact that many tech age jobs—engineering, programming, designing —require a physical work place and the need to communicate with a team. Thus—the need for office space. Also, there was a job growth last year in professional business services such as accounting and bookkeeping, architectural and engineering services, computer design services, telemarketing and customer service call centers. It amounted in a 1.5 percent increase in office sector jobs, according to Construction Dive.

But it’s not just the trendy inner cities that are building cool work hubs for twenty somethings. The suburbs are getting in on it too—as millennials, keen on starting families and cut down expenses, are trading the condo for the baby carriage, the subway for the Subaru. Staid office buildings from the ’80’s and ’90’s are replacing the beige carpeting, florescent lights and sterile reception areas with hardwood floors, lounge like lobbies, modern fitness centers, bike-share programs and walking trails. Newer constructions are installing these features from the get go, making going to work more of an experience than just a job.

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“It’s all about landlords trying to attract tenants, and tenants trying to attract millennial recruitment,” Daniel Loughlin, broker lead of real-estate services firm JLL’s New Jersey office told the Wall Street Journal. Fitness and food are particularly big draws. “Food has become an incredibly big thing for millennials,” Mr. DeMarco president of real estate investment trust Mack-Cali Realty Corp. told the Journal. “When you were younger, you’d go out and get a sandwich. Now you get sushi.”

Alex Carrick, chief economist for ConstructConnect, says that mimic urban settings with village and communities centers along are a big for the suburbs, giving workers a sense of belonging.

The move towards making office spaces millennial-friendly has a lot to do with the bad reputation the traditional nine-to-five was getting with the younger generation. A wellness conscious workforce demands more than MDF desk, harsh lighting and bland food with the risk of being laid off. It has to be about more than just the  paycheck.

Editor Stephen S. Power, editor of the book, The Healthy Workplace by Leigh Stringer (Amacom) has some specific insights as to why offices are undergoing dramatic rethinks.

“Many offices have wellness programs where there will be a ‘mindfulness month’ or they’ll subsidize a local gym membership. What The Healthy Workplace is saying is that maybe it’s the workplace itself that is making us unhealthy,” says Power. “It’s sitting around all day, it’s the very design of the office, the lack of natural light, the lack of plants which is causing mental and physical stress and that’s leading to poor engagement. There’s a stat in the book that says that if people can look outside a window and see natural grass, they’re 80 percent engaged. The engagement ratio in America is like 23 percent. There are more people in America actively disengaged from their job than actually wanting to do their job.”

New office trends whether in the suburbs or cities would support this and gel with urban planners who have realized that a city filled with office towers and no nature makes for a depressing place. Walkable neighborhoods with green spaces and transportation links are where the bulk of new office construction is taking place It’s a win win for cities, which holds on to a vibrant workforce and tenants for new or remodeled buildings while beautifying the area the process.




Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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