Hundreds of industry leaders joined JLL Chicago to discuss Chicago 2025 and the shared economy. Transforming industries and challenging traditional business models, shared economy giants from Uber to WeWork have also become daily staples for all of us.
Chris Kelly, co-founder and president of Convene, a New York-based “workplace-as-a-service” platform and provider that expanded into Willis Tower last summer, kicked off the big event with a keynote. We’re on the cusp of a new paradigm, which will redefine the form and utility of office buildings. Seeing as office building design hasn’t changed since the turn of the century, the shared economy lifestyle is posing unique challenges for developers and owners alike.
The world will never move this slowly again. Knowing that two of the world’s largest economic forces, the shared economy and technology, have yet to make their mark on real estate’s dominant design, Chris shared some key predictions in building the office towers of the future:
What talent wants, is what tenants need, is what landlords build
Yesterday, landlords could satisfy the C-suite with corner offices. Today, the customer is the talent, a mobile workforce shrugging off linear work streams and corporate hierarchies.
Offer a campus of choice
When we go to places that are best aligned with the work we have to do in that moment, it resolves the expectation for quality of life at work. Taking cues, not unreasonably, from the college experience, Millennials think it shouldn’t matter where you did the work, just your performance.
Offices of the future will operate like full-service hotels
You don’t have to be Google to create an office that feels hospitality-infused. From curated retail to lifestyle amenities to tech-enabled personalization, tomorrow’s offices will set five-star expectations, allowing tenants of all sizes to focus on their core services and compete for top talent.
Landlords become brands, tenants become members
Expect landlords to leverage their economies of scale to create interconnected asset value. What that looks like—offering tenants access to amenities across your entire portfolio in a hub-and–spoke model. The hotels know it creates brand loyalty. Also, it feels like a college campus for grownups.
Your building may be smart, but is it empathetic?
With the world’s largest landlords getting in the flexible space game, buildings will need to evolve from “smart” to “empathetic” to stand out. That means embracing digital tools to recognize tenants based on their preferences and behavioral patterns, shaping their environments for a bespoke office experience.
Very few industries still treat every customer the same. As real estate changes from a commodity to an experience, opportunities for savvy investors abound. Hospitality-infused workspaces can deliver as much as five times the revenue per square foot, according to Chris, because of the flexibility, branding and customer service they offer. And with convenience-seeking tenants as your audience, the upsell opportunities are unlimited.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our event coverage, where we dig into insights from our panel of commercial real estate innovators.
View JLL’s Chicago 2025 research here.