This editorial is the consensus opinion of the Editorial Board of the Daily Herald
The shift from the office world to remote work continues, including and perhaps especially in the suburbs, and many companies and employees are still trying to figure it out. The question persists for many companies as to whether to allow hybrid working and, if so, how many days should be needed in the office. The answer keeps changing.
With this comes uncertainty in the suburban commercial real estate market. Sales of huge office campuses have taken place. Allstate sold its campus near Northbrook last year; Baxter International put its near Deerfield on the market this year. Both cited the trend towards hybrid working as a reason for not maintaining as much office space. This followed other high-profile campus sales like the AT&T campus at Hoffman Estates which became Bell Works Chicagoland, and of course the Motorola and Sears campuses in the northwest suburbs.
Meanwhile, other smaller office complexes have gone at least partially unused, prompting local authorities to appeal to businesses to reinstate their employees there.
Yet there are many signs that the suburbs can indeed adapt to this new world of work.
Enter, first of all, the trend of coworking spaces. Offices full of desks and chairs, or even couches, and high-speed internet as well as conference rooms, plus maybe snack and coffee vending machines or even a lounge or cafe, are open throughout the suburbs.
A place called CoLab opened last year on the Bell Works campus. A chain called Brick and Mortar will open next year in a former clothing store in downtown Wheaton; it already has locations in Park Ridge, Deerfield and LaGrange, with another being built in Glen Ellyn. The owner of The Office Clubhouse in Mundelein has just purchased a larger space in Grayslake to expand.
More examples abound as the trend that began before the pandemic now expands, with workers unwilling to work from home all the time or take long commutes – and employers accommodating, sometimes even renting space to them. co-working.
Meanwhile, building owners find other things to do with their properties. More landlords are renting out medical offices, responding to medical professionals’ interest in meeting patients closer to where they live in the suburbs. The Allstate campus is looking to become a warehouse or distribution center.
And in another interesting case reflecting the remote working trend, Schaumburg is allowing a developer to replace four vacant office buildings on Algonquin Road with one 411-apartment building. Not only will some of the apartments be built with dedicated office space, but a central area at the penthouse level will include work and conference spaces. Residents could take a break from their home office to work in another office in the same building!
Kudos to these companies and developers for not forcing the return of outdated lifestyles and creating solutions for the changing world of work.