Larger agencies are investing significant capital toward office renovations aimed at increasing employee collaboration in a more flexible space.

At Chicago’s Aon Center, Jones Lang LaSalle recently completed the two-floor, first phase of a six-floor office upgrade that when completed in spring 2017 will cover more than 200,000 square feet.

  • JLL's six floor upgrade will take 18 months and affect 1,500 employees.
  • More "huddle rooms" are being implemented within large real estate offices.
  • Large firms appear aware that they might be turning into impersonal places to work.

Its been suggested by some brokers that working for a 100 broker-plus real estate agency can be an impersonal experience.

Larger agencies are taking notice of this sentiment and investing significant capital in office renovations aimed at increasing employee collaboration in a more flexible space.

At Chicago’s Aon Center, Jones Lang LaSalle recently completed the two-floor, first phase of a six-floor office upgrade that when completed in spring 2017 will cover more than 200,000 square feet.

“The one-size-fits-all (office) model is no longer relevant,” said Ed Nolan, SVP for workplace strategy at JLL.

The two, newly re-imagined floors recently upgraded by JLL are said to be designed with more flexibility and collaboration in mind than other open-plan offices.

Its “studios” feature adjustable-height desks with sound-absorbing privacy panels that move up and down with the desktop. Additionally, every desk is equipped with a monitor that raises and lowers.

All major pieces of furniture within the space are on casters so employees can shape their workspace.

JLL has also increased the supply of reservation-based huddle rooms, as they estimate more than 80 percent of meetings involve two to four people. These huddle rooms are equipped with smart whiteboards and dual monitors so colleagues in different locations can collaborate and view web-based content simultaneously.

Large brokerages upgrading their digs is nothing new, as in late 2014 CBRE brought its global “Workplace360” initiative to Chicago with the opening of a new 61,000-square-foot office space in River North.

The new office included no assigned seating, private and collaborative workspaces, and also focused on more huddle rooms. The 18-month change management process involved 300 employees.

Another year of upgrades

According to JLL’s public relations department, two more floors in the Aon Center are currently in a “swing space” and will open later this year as part of the second phase.

Following phase one completion roughly 500 employees moved into the upgraded space on March 21. When completed the six renovated floor will house a total of 1,500 JLL employees.

The firm determined what office upgrades to include in the project by conducting surveys and focus groups. Seat senor data was also utilized to determine how long employees are away from their desks.

Erik Pisor

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