Taking Notes from the Region’s Most Innovative Offices: 4 Tips

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By: Tim Kay, Managing Director, JLL

Above, JLL’s Detroit office brands itself with modern lounge areas, collaborative space and exposed ceiling beams.

As the fight for top talent grows even more competitive, office design is moving to the forefront of business strategy.

Tech leaders have forever changed workplace expectations. GoDaddy has go-karts for its employees at its headquarters in California, and Cisco Systems has an onsite health center.

While these companies are at the forefront of workplace innovation, we’re seeing trends from Silicon Valley and beyond trickle down into local cities in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Our local offices might not be as extreme (no, we’re not aware of a local office that’s home to go-karts), but we are moving into a new era for workplace design. So, what can you learn from some of the region’s most innovative spaces? We’ve highlighted four takeaways to incorporate into your next workplace strategy. 

Office Tip 1: Communicate Brand Identity

To elevate the power of branding, businesses can creatively display more of its branded identity and mission through unique design features, like paint colors, building signage, conference room decor and more.

A recent example: JLL designed its new Pittsburgh office to reflect its commitment to the city. New office amenities at Tower Two-Sixty and layout were inspired by direct feedback from employees, thanks to JLL’s one-of-a-kind change ambassador program. To strengthen the JLL brand in Pittsburgh, office zones are designated by well-known Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

JLL went a step further in expanding local brand awareness by securing building signage overlooking Market Square. Tower Two-Sixty—also known as JLL Center—includes the new regional office with open, collaborative space, a variety of meeting rooms and an outdoor patio. The exterior signage and naming rights to the Class A trophy building promotes the firm in a highly populated downtown area.

Similarly, Oswald Companies celebrated its 120th year by securing naming rights to the property at 1100 Superior Avenue. Oswald Centre now features a branded conference center on the first floor of the building, featuring the namesake multiple times throughout.

Office Tip 2: Prioritize Both Collaborative and Focused Work

Although a property should be visually pleasing on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that will help retain employees and add credibility to your brand. Because more and more offices are recognizing the need for a flexible workspace to accommodate differing work styles, companies are rethinking their build-out strategies.

Detroit Office

Above, we’ve featured collaborative space from JLL’s Detroit office in Royal Oak, Michigan.

JLL’s Detroit office located in Royal Oak features exposed ceiling beams and a wide-open floor plan. The property also includes an outdoor patio, ideal for hosting clients, employee events and more. The open concept breaks down barriers between employees and fosters increased collaboration across teams.

Google’s Pittsburgh location in East Liberty includes a mix of collaborative spaces designed to fuel conversation, in addition to a number of more secluded meeting areas to optimize productivity and concentration.

The Google office also incorporates a number of spaces for employees to take a break from their work and relax. Also a key part of the office are pool tables and other games, outdoor patio areas and alternate workspaces to offer plenty of stress-relieving activities.

Office Tip 3: When Starting Out, Opt to Share

The co-working industry offers convenient, flexible leases for businesses and professionals who are just getting started. This makes it the perfect home for freelancers, entrepreneurs and new startups to grow at their own pace.

Columbus’ most notable co-working spaces include The Perch in the Short North and The Salt Mines. The city is known for its startup success and its modern co-working office spaces create an environment for them to thrive.

Even in a co-working community, these spaces are built to maximize productivity with a mix of collaborative space, private conference rooms and unique workspace design. In addition to a flexible lease, co-working spaces cover a number of amenities for tenants, including office furniture, food and beverages, and supplies.

Office Tip 4: Build With a Growth Mindset

The most savvy, profitable businesses build with a growth mindset. With more technology at our fingertips to better estimate growth forecasts and hiring demands, businesses can more easily determine what kind of office environment will fit prospected growth.

A prime example: BrandMuscle built out their new office in downtown Cleveland to accommodate for the increase in staff size, while also planning for their expected growth in the following years.

The company designed an office space that would encourage collaboration and attract millennial workers. What’s more, the company also negotiated a flexible lease that included expansion rights to add to their 42,000-square-foot office space. By thinking ahead to the company’s future needs when building out a new space, the company established a long-term presence in the Cleveland market.


When deciding on the location of your next office space or building out a new design, consider the power of a developed brand identity paired with modern office amenities to attract talent.


About the Author

Tim KayTim Kay is Managing Director and Market Leader for Michigan, Ohio and Western, PA. He is responsible for business and team development, resource management and accountability for his area. Connect with Tim on Twitter or LinkedIn