Five Qualities Great Workspaces Have

Jaclyn Crawford Foresight, Office Environment Leave a Comment

Howard Ecker shares the characteristics of offices that keep employees motivated.

Productive office space is created and nurtured by many different things. In today’s working world, it is important to tailor your office space to the needs, wants and expectations of current and prospective employees as well as the clients you serve.

One Roof

Getting everyone under one roof at the same time will make for greater productivity in the workplace. As the ability to work from anywhere becomes more prevalent, tenants will need face-to-face interaction; therefore, collaboration space will become increasingly important.

These days, founders, partners, executives and entrepreneurs don’t care as much about varying office sizes as they once did because a new work culture has taken root.

A great example is Tony Hsieh, Founder of Zappos. His desk and space is exactly the same as that of Zappos’ newest employee.Gone are the days of “mahogany row,” where the offices of the corporate boss and senior officers outshined and outsized the postage stamp-size cubicles of junior staff.

At Its Core

At its best, an office can help represent a company’s core values, encourage work-life balance, and ultimately help retain and recruit employees. If a Chief Executive Officer aligns his or her office location thinking with the long-term fiscal and cultural needs of a business, they will move beyond simply valuing square feet; instead, they will realize the greater holistic value of their office environment, connecting the value of their company with its growth and culture.


Moving forward, companies will begin to focus more on wellness in the workplace. Better food alternatives will be offered (organic/local/sustainable vs. fast food), and gym facilities and tailored fitness classes will help entice employees to come into the office and work the hours required. Also, “groundscrapers,” similar to Apple’s new headquarters, not skyscrapers, will encourage employees to walk up the stairs versus take the elevator, as there are only a few floors.

Furthermore, the outside space these locations provide will completely change the office environment because workers will be encouraged to work outdoors, collide and collaborate. Excellent connectivity outside as well as inside will be a must.

Location, Location, Location

Location will make space more productive. Your employees probably work long but flexible hours. Outside of their home, your employees probably spend most hours of their week in the office. If your office space is ultimately a recruitment and retention tool, understanding the commuting habits of your present and prospective employees will be paramount.

For this reason, it is important to have office space that is convenient for your employees—and not just the company’s top executives. As work hours become more flexible, urban offices near parks and cultural institutions, for example, will become important considerations.

We will see companies situate in areas they might not have considered before. Google’s move to Fulton Street Market in Chicago and Twitter’s move to Midmarket in San Francisco are perfect examples of this transition.

For companies where employees often work from the field, shared desks with movable carts of personal items are the latest hot trend. When employees are in the office, space needs to be designed to support the diverse working styles: a place to focus, a place to collaborate, a place to meet and even a place for employees to recharge. In addition, sustaining connectivity and the most modern technology will be key and help us communicate better.

Keeping Competitive

After 40-plus years in the business, it energizes me to see these qualities being embraced by even the most traditional companies. I expect to see even more of this spillover as businesses will need to adapt to remain economically viable and to attract talented employees. Now is truly the time for innovation, and I encourage each of you to look at your space in an entirely different fashion.



Howard Ecker founded Howard Ecker + Company in 1975 as the first real estate company in Chicago devoted exclusively to representing tenants.  From working on one of the original leases in the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco in the early 1970’s to currently representing national accounting firm BDO USA, Howard’s 40+ year career has included many significant projects.  Howard works with business leaders to align office location thinking with the long term fiscal and cultural needs of their business, connecting the worth of the company to its brand, culture and environment.  Howard is a member of the Board of Directors for Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.  He graduated from Tulane University in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian History and attended DePaul Law School. 

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