CBRE Converting to Free Address Work Spaces

You would think that having an assigned work space would be very important for people who work in commercial real estate. However, some commercial real estate brokerages are finding that “free address” work spaces make sense. Here is how one commercial real estate brokerage firm is making this new office space workplace strategy  work for them in Orlando .

In April of this year, CBRE cut their office space by one quarter when they moved into the SunTrust Center in downtown Orlando. They did this by choosing a new officing model, called “free address,” where no one has assigned office space to call their own. Instead, workers can move around to collaborate with anyone in the company at any particular time. At the end of the day, instead of locking their office door or cubicle drawers, each employee stashes a shiny new laptop (paid for with the money being saved with the downsizing) into a locker, in the same way that their high school children would.

In addition to making collaboration easier, the free address system allowed CBRE to invest in bright, appealing collaborative spaces, an inviting sun-drenched eating area in case staff want to gather over coffee or lunch, and 14 offices with doors for those times when staff need to meet with clients or work uninterrupted to make a tight deadline. And by not assigning those private office spaces, workers who need one invariably find one available.

CBRE made certain that this real estate move was well-researched and practical. Over an 18-month period, they discovered that an average of 45 percent—nearly half—of the workstations in their old offices were vacant at any given time, between vacations and off-site meetings (which are not uncommon in real estate).

The transformation of its Orlando office is part of a global CBRE initiative, they have labeled as “Workplace360”. It was implemented last year in Los Angeles and in May in Sacramento. The Sacramento office makeover was the fifth CBRE transition in the United States. In 2014, more than two dozen CBRE offices worldwide will be converting to the model.

Many other companies are embracing the free address work space concept, AKA office hoteling, as a part of creating an agile workplace. American Express, GlaxoSmithKline, and PricewaterhouseCoopers all have incorporated some form of the free address concept in their offices. The International Facility Management Association survey 950 companies found that 60% of those surveyed had unassigned work spaces in their offices, and about half said the number of employees using unassigned space had increased in the past two years. It is a trend that is gaining momentum.

Want to know more about workplace strategy like the free address strategy? We can help your workplace become more productive and improve employee engagement and collaboratioin. Please Contact us and we will get you started in learning about creating an Agile Workplace and then show you how it might work for your company.

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By: James Osgood