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CEOs weigh in on ʻoffice of the futureʼ

CRE leaders shared their perspectives on issues that will impact the “office of the future” during NAIOP New Jersey’s annual CEO Perspective.

Paul Teti, partner with Normandy Real Estate Partners, led the interactive discussion at the Maritime Parc in Jersey City. He was joined by panel members Neil Grassie, head of Corporate Real Estate Solutions at Barclays; Jan-Hein Lakeman, executive managing director USA at EDGE Technologies; and Steve Nislick, CFO with Hugo Neu Corporation.

Teti invited comment on what elements are non-negotiable when it comes to developing an office project.
“Regardless of whether it’s in Whippany, Glasgow or India, we are looking for a diverse employment pool in terms of age and skill set,” said Grassie.

“We also want an employment pipeline of schools and universities to help us fill a full range of positions, and strong transportation links that we can supplement with our own shuttle service.”

Nislick, whose firm’s 130-acre Kearny Point project is repurposing buildings in a former shipyard into office and industrial spaces, said, “The office of the future has already been defined by Millennials and the companies looking to attract them. To create a modern workplace for a diverse business community, the first thing we look for is location. If it’s not in an urban environment, it’s a non-starter.”

Nislick said space flexibility also is critical. “At Kearny Point, office spaces range from 35 to 10,000 s/f and we’re providing a turnkey solution that includes IT, conference rooms and short-term leases. If you look at companies like WeWork, leasing space on a short term basis and taking the risk is where the market is headed.”

While the panelists agreed on the continued importance amenity-rich environments, Teti noted it is no longer enough to take a “check the box” approach.

He explained, “We’re programming spaces to ensure that amenities are customized to the specific user and controlling the environment at all times so it remains active and vibrant.”

Lakeman noted, “Many office buildings were constructed for jobs that existed 40 years ago, which is why 85 percent of workers in conventional buildings are not engaged. Today we need to design our buildings and amenities around the user in order to attract a highly skilled workforce.”

The panelists agreed the office of the future will be healthy, sustainable and technologically advanced.
“The world needs better buildings, and we can do something about it,” said Lakeman, whose technology firm specializes in using big data analytics to reinvent the workplace. “People in the industry have this notion that a better building must cost more. Smart technology enables businesses to offset their investment by quantifying and monetizing what’s going on in their buildings and utilizing energy and space more efficiently.”

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