Large companies looking to centralize thousands of workers, and keep them engaged, have led to some massive commercial real estate investments. Corporate behemoths have flexed muscle over the years in creating photogenic workplace campuses that resemble tourist attractions meant to lure top talent.
Such amenities are designed to show employees they are valued and drive creativity while keeping them engaged. Exercise amenities, wellness centers and high-quality food options have become standard. Add in the convenience of on-site childcare, and employee loyalty can go even further.
These large workplace campuses have often been located in the suburbs. This allows companies to purchase and develop land at a considerable cost savings and for employees living nearby to access more affordable residential real estate than that of a large urban setting. This type of plan requires forward thinking and some expensive guesswork. Per Workspace Design Magazine,
Companies do not build every day. If they build every 50 years, they want to invest in something that will last as far into the future as possible. This objective requires that they consider flexible workplace design that will adapt to changing business needs and support a new generation of workers. Big ideas for the 50-year plan need to focus on a demographic that is in middle school today. What will the new generation want and expect from its workplace? How will that compare with the values of current employees preparing to retire?
While having a property where people can work, play, and dine together has obvious perks for a corporation, the rise of work-from-home and coronavirus concerns are leading to some pushback that may be bad news for companies like Google that have 12-acre campuses. Google, along with Facebook, have extended their work-from-home policies into summer 2021.
With Amazon investing $1.4 billion to open six more offices in locations well outside of its Seattle headquarters, plans for the satellite office, or hub-and-spoke model, are already afoot. With the potential for large firms to decentralize their offices, it will be interesting to see if the massive office complexes of today will become a thing of the past and if large corporations do indeed decentralize.
Social media giant Twitter already has the wheels in motion. According to Business Insider,
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently said that Twitter has been working “for a year, if not two years” around decentralizing the way employees work, and that having a distributed workforce was “the whole promise of the internet” to begin with. The internet should have made a central office location “irrelevant,” Dorsey said.