The workplace has changed over the past decade, with hybrid work models and a global pandemic shaping company operations. According to security firm Kastle Systems, an index of building occupancies in 10 major metro areas has now surpassed 50%, with return to office levels reaching a post-pandemic first of 40% or above. Though demand for office space is steadily rising, the occupancy rate in North America is still not at pre-pandemic levels, causing many companies to implement return-to-office mandates for 2023.
It’s important to note that many companies are not opposed to flexible work arrangements, which were in place long before the pandemic began. However, they have found that the extreme shift towards remote-only employment has negatively impacted their corporate culture, making it difficult to attract and retain top talent.
The challenge for many employees in returning to the office is more about returning to an office or work environment filled with the status quo. According to McKinsey, employees long for workplaces filled with trust, social cohesion, and purpose–driven attributes that are difficult to cultivate in a virtual setting. As such, the office is still integral–not just for businesses but for employees, too.
As companies reintegrate in-office expectations for the work week, they are finding that the alignment of space, place, and being is the success factor. This alignment is being driven through innovative space utilization, integrated technologies, and customized amenities— strengthening employee purpose, generating renewed energy, and driving organizational performance.
Here is just one of their stories.
The office’s central role in supporting LERMA’s culture, operations, and long-term growth.
LERMA/ is a premier ad agency in Dallas, TX, that has worked with notable brands such as Anheuser-Bush, Avocados from Mexico, The Dallas Cowboys, Keurig, Dr. Pepper, The Home Depot, and more. Known to push the envelope when it comes to creativity and innovation, LERMA/ found themselves searching for a headquarters that would support their growing business and long-term goals. We sat down with Chief Executive Officer and Founder Pedro Lerma to discuss why he felt The Luminary was the perfect office location, as well as the impact LERMA’s new office space has had on its operational model.
What was important when considering LERMA’s HQ design and location?
Rooted at the intersection of two of Dallas’ primary freeways, The Luminary was brilliantly marketed with a sign that read, “Best Signage Opportunity in Dallas,” which I immediately recognized as true; the exposure was ideal. It just never occurred to me that it could be for LERMA/ until I started working with Stream.
In selecting the space and determining the layout, it was important to determine how we could support our operational objectives while fueling our employees. As such, we decided to embrace the fact that hybrid work arrangements would be the new normal and remained mindful of that concept, along with our company ideals, as we strategized space plans with our architects.
How does your new office space enhance LERMA’s culture?
During the pandemic, LERMA/ was able to maintain productivity at a high level with our teams working remotely, but our culture suffered. As a creative firm, our culture is critical to who we are, so it is imperative that our company’s culture is continuously fostered and nurtured. This makes an in-office component to our operations vital to our success.
To cultivate collaboration and ingenuity, we designed spaces that were clearly defined to serve a collaborative purpose so teams could comfortably gather. But we were also intentional about crafting spaces intended for privacy (such as huddle rooms and phone booths). We wanted to make sure the office was optimal for both groups and individuals to thrive.
Is LERMA’s new office supporting growth objectives?
Knowing that we are continuing to grow both organically and through acquisitions, our office is serving a central role, supporting our teams and LERMA’s mission: channeling creativity for good. It’s about proper space utilization, rooted in what I like to call the three C’s: Culture, Collaboration, and Creativity.
While the office will remain vital to driving metrics and success, it must change to meet the needs of an evolving workforce.
As companies determine next steps for their organizations, it’s essential to keep the following in mind:
- Physical office space is necessary. Whether your teams are in the office five days a week or three, the office must serve as a point of connection where shared mission and vision are defined and achieved. It is the only way to strengthen company culture and further develop employees – creating environments ripe for growth.
- Proper space planning is fundamental. The office is much more than just a workspace. It’s a location that supports what is needed today and can evolve into what is needed tomorrow. Designs should take into consideration the way teams operate, supporting collaboration and mentorship, as well as the ability to work independently.
- The role of the office has changed. Offices are no longer solely dedicated to an 8-5 grind but a safe space where employees can explore and achieve their personal goals and objectives alongside the greater organizational mission. As such, the office must provide enriching, ongoing experiences that empower and inspire.
Stream is one of the nation’s fastest-growing full-service commercial real estate firms, with a distinct, people-first culture. The leasing transaction and construction services for LERMA/ were led by Dan Harris, Managing Director of Tenant Representation Services, and Bobby Kunkle, Senior Director of Project Management Services.