Occupiers are demanding ever greater levels of flexibility and efficiency from workspaces, which is creating both challenges and opportunities for companies in the development, engineering, architecture, building and construction sectors.
Colliers International's strategic advisory director, Chris Farhi, and office leasing national director, Rob Bird, say getting it right is now more important than ever.
"Office vacancy rates remain at near-record lows, driving up rents and compressing yields," says Farhi.
"Companies that can deliver A-grade or premium office buildings will be best placed to capitalise on this strong demand."
Understanding the end user is paramount, says Farhi. "With the rise of flexible working, many organisations are reducing their overall space requirements, but are demanding better design and better space efficiency to justify higher rents.
"Occupiers are also demanding offices that are adaptable, efficient and able to be reconfigured as required. Flexibility is key here."
At a minimum, a typical 'good practice' specification should include:
• Finishes and materials appropriate for an A-grade building;
• Contiguous floor plates of at least 1000sq m each (ideally larger);
• Minimum clear floor to ceiling height of 3m, and higher in lobby areas;
For a 'best practice' development of international quality, project delivery teams should also consider:
• Ability to achieve NABERS NZ and/or New Zealand Green Building Council certification;
• LED lighting;
• Electric vehicle chargers
Bird says most new offices are almost entirely open plan, aside from meeting rooms and break-out spaces. "Even the legal sector — the last bastion of partitioned offices — is moving towards open plan spaces and large floor plates, due to the productivity and collaboration this encourages.
"Law firm Meredith Connell has reported excellent staff outcomes since moving to its open plan office in the Mansons TCLM-developed BDO Centre at Graham St, Auckland."
Bird says there is increasing use of modular furniture solutions such as soundproof pods for meetings or phone calls.
"These modular solutions typically have air-conditioning, lighting and power points for devices, reducing the need to deliver
amenity solely through the fit-out and building services."
With new developments, good outcomes are often achieved by factoring flexibility into the base build and fit out. "Where possible, the delivery team should work with the occupier throughout the design and build process to ensure the finished project meets or exceeds expectations.
"Goodman Property demonstrated the benefits of this with the development of Fonterra's head office at Wynyard Quarter, Auckland.
"The Fonterra Centre is a highly flexible workspace with large floor plates and internal staircases that encourage circulation and collaboration.
"The 5 Green Star design includes many sustainable features including a large atrium and skylight for natural light, exposed stainless steel ducts for external air circulation, internal green walls irrigated by harvested rainwater, and end of trip facilities."