As we have been able to verify during the last two years, and especially during 2017, the Barcelona office market is booming.
The absorption data for these two years is above the average for the last 10 years, and is at the same level as in 2006-2008, which was before the crisis years. In fact, 2015 was a historical record year in hiring volume in Barcelona. The prospects for the end of 2017 will also be above average, confirming the boom in the Barcelona office market.
One of the immediate consequences of these good hiring data is the decrease in unemployment and the available supply. And in view of the scarcity of availability, it is when office projects begin to begin to encompass the new available offer for the coming years.
We consider it highly relevant that, at the present time, the market shows that it is more mature than it was in other phases of the cycle and that we learned from past situations. The premise in times of real estate bonanza often seems to be the following: any space / building / office / business park is rented and almost any rent. And no, unfortunately, it is not. We consider it of utmost importance that the new office real estate development makes sense in all aspects.
Making sense implies, among other things, that it can meet the requirements of current demand.
And who is the current demand? It is known to all since, in addition to the traditional services sector with a high percentage of the volume of contracting, there has been a great emergence in recent years in the ICT sector, e-commerce, the internet world and the recently landed communications sector. -workings, which is still a space designed especially for those previous sectors.
We consider it of utmost importance that the new office real estate development makes sense in all aspects.
The already entrepreneurial ecosystem of Barcelona and the appropriate environment of the city, among other things, have favored in recent years the take-off of these sectors of activity and the installation of numerous companies dedicated to it.
Furthermore, Barcelona has been positioning itself for years as a very attractive city on a European level also for the implementation of hubs and the so-called Shared Service Centers of multinational companies. They see Barcelona as a very good location close to the rest of Europe, where it is easy to attract talent and with significantly lower costs than other European capitals.
All these companies have in common, among other things, something that we could call internationality. Barcelona is proud and likes to consider itself a modern and open city, multicultural, tolerant, with an excellent quality of life, etc ... And that is something that carries over to all aspects of the city, including workplaces.
And what do all these companies demand? For starters, localization. Easily accessible, well connected, equipped with services, with a pleasant environment (not just a building!), Where employees can access by public transport and even by bicycle. Where they can easily switch between work and leisure.
Barcelona is an international city, but a small one, and this shows in the matter of commuting to the workplace. In large European and American cities, they are used to long journeys, to large business parks around the city. The city center is reserved for the few. Barcelona in that sense, does not resemble the big cities. It costs to move the companies to the surroundings, even having high quality business parks that would meet all the requirements. Companies (their employees and managers) want to continue to be in an urban area.
An example of this is the success of 22 @, which has managed to become an extension of the city center. In the 22 @ area there are no longer just offices, but services, residential areas, leisure, culture, the sea! ... It is not just a large business park. And in this lies much of its success.
These zones guarantee employees life beyond their workplace, and that is what companies are looking for, because that is what they need to offer, among other things, to attract talent. Not only the national, but, above all, the international. Apart from the location, and in line with offering something different, these sectors flee from the usual offices, with more traditional finishes and aesthetics, to focus on buildings that have personality, uniqueness ... that differential something.
Differential in architecture, in interior design, in alternative facilities: they look for terraces (in other cities maybe not so much, but in Barcelona they make perfect sense), they look for wide ceilings, modern aesthetics, they look for bicycle parking spaces, parking spaces for electric cars, offices that have changing rooms and showers, diaphanous and open spaces, multifunctional, flexible, that contribute to interaction, sharing, and where, as we said, work and leisure can almost be interrelated. That “non-workplace” feeling, of feeling at home, makes work even more productive.
The characteristics of the buildings can (and should) contribute positively to the wellness policies of the users.
Technology and the increase in virtual work contribute to efficiency, but on the other hand, in many cases, they translate into more dehumanized offices, so this must be compensated with the quality of the physical workspace.
The new offices must contribute not only to professional interaction, but also to people's social interaction.
Another important point in the new office projects is sustainability and wellness. Yes, they are terms that are fashionable, and we have heard a lot, but they are here to stay. New buildings, or comprehensive renovations, that do not have an energy efficiency seal and a clear objective of environmental sustainability are no longer conceived today.
The Well certificate is something not only about the building itself, but what the company itself is involved in and its implementation in the office. It implies allocating company resources to the well-being of its employees and a healthy balance. Some policies and tools that collaborate with this objective would be the flexibility of schedules, the work-life balance, the office furniture, the spaces, the rest areas, the promotion of sports activities, healthy eating, etc, etc.
The characteristics of the buildings can (and should) contribute positively to the wellness policies of the users. And all of this brings us to the beginning of our writing ... To the new real estate development and the rehabilitation that will form the new offer for the coming years. Let's make buildings / parks / offices that accommodate the current demand. Let's do projects with meaning and responsibility. And not only to meet the requirements of that demand, but even to cooperate and contribute to the committed and conscious growth of that attractive, modern and open city that we want Barcelona to continue to be.