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Changes in technology bring changes in building design.

Shared space, telecommuting, remote officing... all buzzwords of the 1990's thanks to technology. And all could have great impact on the industry if commercial real estate professionals don't have a firm understanding of trends in both technology and the industry. Remote officing is, in fact, no longer an expensive, far-out idea. Instead, it is a commercially and economically viable option that can mean greater efficiency for companies and more flexible work options for staff.. Considering that upwards of 43 million Americans work out of their home, it is a trend that cannot be ignored.

Bell Atlantic's Michael Ludas says that "location, location, location" will be replaced in today's' digital world with "location, bandwidth, location." Managers of "smart" buildings will need tremendous computer capabilities, and the emphasis will shift from managing physical space to managing data space. High tech buildings often require capital-intensive infrastructure alterations, as tenants need greater power capabilities and MIS systems demand extensive space, wiring and ducting. In fact, BOMA's 1998 Experience Exchange Report showed that corporate facilities with computer rooms and/or data centers had utility expenses 31 percent higher than those facilities without a computer room. On a positive note, more opportunities exist for "rooftop revenue," as telecom service providers seek space to house equipment.

In the meantime, commercial real estate professionals are becoming more techno-savvy. A joint study between Price Waterhouse and the Counselors of Real Estate predicted that the World Wide Web will become the universal meeting ground as more information gravitates to the Web. Stand-alone computers will become rare as the information environment becomes increasingly networked and shared. Mobile computing will expand with Web- enabled pagers, cell phones, personal data assistants and high-tech car dashboards.

Universal messaging technologies -- all funneled through the Internet -- will also mean that real estate professionals can communicate anywhere there is Web access. Of course, it isn't economically feasible to make all office buildings "smart." Depending on the type of tenants housed in a building, the geographical location, or a building's age, it might make more sense to retrofit.

As noted in the BOMA/Cushman & Wakefield Market Intelligence Report, older downtown properties are currently being converted into hotels or residential condominiums in cities such as Chicago, Boston, Seattle and downtown Manhattan.

Meanwhile, tenants are quickly recognizing their value in a fiercely competitive market, and many are demanding more services. According to ERE Yarmouth/RERC's Emerging Trends, the top three building characteristics most important to tenants are electrical capacity (8.8 percent); fiber access (8.8 percent) and HV AC capacity/hours of operation (8.1 percent). Security, large floor plates, parking and satellite/antennae access round out the list. More companies are also willing to pay up to one-third more for facilities that include cafeterias, health and fitness centers, employee lounges and day-care centers.

What would employees like to change about their workspace? According to the Steelcase Workplace Index, 27 percent want more storage; 18 percent want better technology support and more privacy; 17 percent want a more comfortable chair; 14 percent want better lighting; 11 percent want more tackable space and 10 percent want mores space for impromptu meetings.

The bottom-line? Tenants are a lot smarter and know they're valuable. As BOMA International President Bill Garland noted, during his annual, State of the Industry Address; "Meeting their needs, while molding our organizations to meet the requirements today's market demands, requires a great deal of foresight, research, planning and preparation."

"Make it easy for your clients to work with you, get in touch with you, and resolve problems... Customer service has never been more important; and demonstrating that our industry is flexible and attentive is crucial. The risks associated with reaching for such success may be high, but so can be the rewards."

Founded in 1984, the Building Owners and Managers Association of New Jersey consists of over 300 members representing the leading building owners, managers, developers, asset managers, leasing professionals, corporate facility managers and providers of products and services for commercial properties. Internationally, the organization has over 95 associations representing 6 billion square feet of commercial space. BOMA-NJ holds monthly inf6rmation exchanges and additionally provides continuing education courses through The BOMI Institute.
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Author:Padavano, Kurt
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 14, 2000
Words:694
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