What’s the future of office space as more telework? DC-area planners weigh-in

More freedom to transform space as needed is the trend office development planners said they see coming to the D.C., area as more people get ready to return to the office.

They talked about hybrid work spaces with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments during an Technical Advisory Committee meeting Friday.

“While conference space will continue to be important, I think it’s going to be more targeted use,” said Dean Lopez, senior vice president of development and construction at Corporate Office Properties Trust.

He said he expects to see more square footage per occupant and, “indoor and outdoor workspaces. The ability to do either is going to be important.”

He doesn’t see the demand for in-person office space changing much, but does see it shifting to more hybrid use.

There’s going to be a big boom in people looking for space and transforming current spaces, he said.

“There’s going to be a pent-up demand. Once we all figure this out, I think that there could be a deluge of activity in the markets,” Lopez said.

Kristi Smith, executive vice president of real estate investment firm at JBG SMITH, said it’s all about multiuse spaces.

“Creating that space where people can be together because I think that’s what’s going to be the core of the office of the future,” Smith said.

JBG SMITH is the developer, leasing agent and property manager for Amazon’s National Landing office space project.

She said she sees people using office space less for individual offices and more for collaboration as some people work at home and some work in the office.

“How do you kind of coexist like that and does that work or not?” she asks.

Smith said she expects to see more and more companies transforming their spaces, with more outdoor collaborative space becoming popular.

But she said there’s still a lot of unknowns when it comes to what that may look like.

“Flexibility is desired. Some form of hybrid work, although no one has really done hybrid work, so what does that mean? I think is very much still a question mark,” Smith said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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