Latin America. The demand for high-tech office spaces that go beyond the comforts of home is increasing more and more. Companies are moving toward newer office spaces that can compete with what workers have at home and provide dignified experiences that justify commuting to workplaces.
A clear example is the United States, where office buildings completed in 2015 or later have recorded net occupancy growth of 4.9 million square meters since the beginning of the pandemic, compared to 13.7 million square meters of office space that were vacated during the same time, according to JLL studies.
Demand is driving up rental prices for modern buildings, which tend to offer high-tech services such as ultra-fast internet and smart meeting rooms. "In today's flight in search of quality, smart office technology is becoming more of an expectation than a luxury," says Ariel Castillo, from JLL's Technology area.
Before the pandemic, many corporations loaded their "war for talent" arsenal by renting open office space in attractive sectors. The buildings they chose were packed with amenities like corporate gyms, bike storage, and cafes. Now they're looking at things like artificial intelligence technology that understands daily routines and work habits, smart software that predicts energy consumption, and surprising factors like media rooms designed for video calls. Such technologies are set to make office technology superior to what people have at home amid the rise of hybrid work.
"The more fluid environment will be a great point of attraction for people to come back to the office," says Ariel Castillo. "Many employees like remote work and flexibility, so there must be a good argument for returning to the office. The office should offer the same lifestyle comfort as the home."
Recent JLL research shows that the journey to quality is being driven by outsized leases on new construction.
According to the latest Colombia Office Market Report, technology companies and back-office operations were the largest area takers during 2022. The Flight-to-flex consists of the migration to offices with flexible scheme. Indeed, office users noticed the need for greater flexibility in their office spaces to be able to react better to a crisis such as the one experienced by the pandemic, in which many spaces were left vacant. This has led to changes in office configuration that now offer more flexibility, more efficiency and more attractive designs.
While concessions are expected to remain elevated compared to historical normal values, JLL expects effective rents to continue to increase on new products, while second-generation assets will need larger concession packages to remain operational.
"There's real value in investing in smart technology and the infrastructure that supports it," Castillo says. "If you don't, your building will be the last on the office tour with potential clients, if it ever makes the list."