Associate Principals and Partners Tim Bailey and Nate Turner were recently featured in New England Real Estate Journal’s Ones to Watch! Each year, the NEREJ recognizes the “Stand Out” professionals from New England’s commercial real estate industry. Below are Nate and Tim’s sections from this year’s spotlight.

Nathan Turner, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP 

3 skills that you use every day in your position: Critical thinking, active listening, and communication.

Best book, podcast, or app for aspiring leaders: Harvard Business Review (HBR) – What Makes an “Authentic” Leader? Episode 22 from HBR on Leadership series.

Best advice for new leaders in 10 words or less: Understand the importance of accountability

What recent project, transaction or accomplishment are you most proud of? Working with the city of Quincy to support its downtown development guidelines and, more recently, to review the City’s energy code and sustainability initiatives. Quincy has a mix of commercial and residential properties which provides an opportunity to make a difference with energy-efficient development by joining a group of communities that utilize the latest energy stretch codes for new projects.

What makes this nominee an Industry Leader? “Nate understands the importance of creating design that supports our clients’ business objectives and maintaining high-quality standards throughout the design process. Through his project work and his efforts to mentor staff, Nate will continue to play an important role in the growth and success of our firm.” – Daniel Perruzzi AIA LEED AP, Principal | Partner at Margulies Perruzzi

Tim Bailey, AIA, LEED AP

3 skills that you use every day in your position: Communication, problem solving, creativity.

Best book, podcast, or app for aspiring leaders: “How I built this”- NPR

Best advice for new leaders in 10 words or less: Stay agile and open-minded.

What recent project, transaction or accomplishment are you most proud of? My growth into a leadership role on both a personal and professional level. I became an associate principal/partner and realized it was time to make an impact on the community outside of the office. I am an adjunct professor of architecture at my alma mater, Roger Williams, where I teach a graduate level course. I joined my local Planning Board where I provide my expert knowledge on responsibly building and shaping the community around me.

What makes this nominee an Industry Leader? “The quality of an architecture firm is defined by the talents of its people, and we are extremely fortunate to have the broad and deep design talents of people like Tim. With his design acumen and commitment to client service, Tim will lead MP as it continues to grow.” – Janet Morra, AIA, LEED AP, Principal | Partner at Margulies Perruzzi.

By Principal & Partner Janet Morra, AIA, LEED AP

During the early days of the pandemic, we collectively embraced the notion that once vaccines became available, things would return to a “new normal,” and a mass return to the office would follow.

In reality, the hybrid work environment – long a staple in certain high-tech industries and made possible through advancements in technology – was mainstreamed. At the time, Margulies Perruzzi’s workplace strategy report, “Embracing the Hybrid Workspace,” affirmed the logic of transitioning from a traditional to hybrid model.

Our survey of 8,600 people across multiple business sectors revealed that 44 percent of workers planned on being in the office three days a week, and 25 percent planned on two days. Only 9 percent responded that they would return to a pre-pandemic office presence.

A Buzzword Is Back

It seems appropriate to resurrect a late-1990s buzzword, “paradigm shift,” because the pandemic is almost solely responsible for a fundamental change in the basic concepts and practices related to the traditional, corporate 9-to-5 in-office model.

Corporate managers who make real estate and facility decisions are facing the new reality of altered employee expectations. We know of one company that had an epiphany when they realized that the 100,000-square-foot building they own sits mostly empty, because in their new hybrid work environment, they have never had more than 50 people show up to work in the office on any given day.

So where are we now, and what does the future look like?

According to JLL’s third-quarter U.S. office outlook report, return-to-office metrics have trended upward this year, with most Fortune 500 employers gravitating to around three or more days of in-office attendance and pivoting away from fully remote hiring.

CBRE reported in their September office occupier sentiment survey that in the U.S., 65 percent of companies have a formal attendance requirement in place versus 31 percent one year ago. The average weekly office utilization rate varies by region; in the Asia-Pacific region 45 percent of respondents report their spaces to be highly utilized, while in the U.S. that figure is only 24 percent.

Many Look to Alter Spaces

We recently launched a new initiative to find out how our clients are approaching hybrid work, and the results align with what other industry leaders are reporting.

Sixty-three percent of our clients said had no formal hybrid or flexible attendance plan prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, 70 percent have one in place now.

Only 40 percent of our clients required attendance in the office a specific number of days per week, while 60 percent had “suggested” in-office targets. Meanwhile, 40 percent of our clients said they were an “office first” organization, with 20 percent identifying as “remote first” and the remainder saying they had a “true hybrid” character.

And while only 40 percent of our clients said they had reduced their office footprint, half said they had altered their office space in some way.

Occupiers’ Options Abound

There are many options available for implementing a full or partial return to the office, but there is no “one size fits all” solution. For the company I mentioned with a 100,000-square-foot, underutilized building, alternatives included selling it, relocating to a smaller space and designing it for how their staff works now, subletting half the square footage and redesigning the space they occupy, or keeping the building and initiating a mandatory in-office schedule.

Companies opting to redesign current or new space to bring workers back to the office are using various tactics. Creating a more home-like atmosphere might translate into softer seating and less dependence on fixed workstations. Now that virtual meetings are routine, private offices can be transformed into huddle rooms where one or two people can conduct an online session with acoustic and visual privacy. There is also a move towards even more collaboration and team space, as well as organized events, activities and amenities designed to appeal to the basic human need to be together.

Sometimes the reconfiguration or downsizing of space boils down to pure math: If a company requires everyone to come in three days a week on the same days, then there is no option to reduce seating or decrease space. The only way this type of hybrid policy would work is if attendance is staggered throughout the week, and it is easy to imagine how quickly this could become complicated and counterproductive.

In the end, the most successful solution is one that is uniquely tailored to a company’s business model, strategic plan and corporate culture. Ultimately, flexibility of both thought and design are the keys to cultivating a successful hybrid work environment.

This article was featured in Banker & Tradesman.

By Director of Lab Programming Jane Kepros, LEED GA

There are many misconceptions about lab design. In this article, we will delve into some common myths and explain why these may not be applicable for a particular project.

Myth #1: Lab Design Is Highly Regulated

While there are multiple regulations that need to be adhered to in an operational laboratory, clients are often surprised to learn that outside of general building, plumbing, and fire code requirements, there are often minimal (and sometimes zero additional) design regulations that are required solely because a space is designated as a lab. Most lab regulations have to do with the operations taking place within the lab, and the safe storage or transport of materials and waste in and out of the lab.

Of course, every project is unique. During the programming and planning phases it is best for clients to work with their design team and consultants to identify any special functions, hazards, or limitations of their site that may trigger special codes or regulations based on where they are located or the type of work they do.

Myth #2: You Cannot Use Certain Finishes or Products in Labs

Lab design involves the selection of many finishes and products, including flooring, wall paint, cabinetry, worksurfaces or lab benches, ceiling tiles or paint, piping, and plumbing fixtures. Many people think that certain finishes or products are never allowed in laboratories. This is generally not the case. Typically, certain materials are selected based on multiple factors including their durability, cleanability, resistance to chemicals or mold, sustainability, and availability. There are certain rules of thumb for using different materials that are considered best practice in particular environments, but they are rarely mandatory.

When selecting finishes and products, clients should work with their project, operations, facilities, and design teams to consider all the above factors, in addition to the upfront cost, including cost for both material and installation, and long-term cost, including maintenance or replacement.

Myth #3: The Rules of Lab Design are Absolute

There are many myths within lab design that are conveyed using “always” or “never” language, such as “sinks should always be located near the entrance,” or “wood casework should never be used in a biology lab.”  The reality is that it depends.

Often a client will make a request for their project design and use the “always” or “never” language themselves. This does not mean that all future clients think the same way. Their processes, safety program, material use, maintenance schedule, and even design aesthetic may dictate the exact opposite of the previous request. It is best to ask follow up questions to the client about why they have a specific preference and use that background information to inform your approach on future projects.

Just because you can do something does not mean that you should, and just because a material or product is available to use, does not mean that it is a good option. It is best to take multiple factors into account, weigh the options, and at the end of the day remember that except for code requirements, the client is the final decision maker. They are going to be the ones to work in and be responsible for cleaning and maintaining the space in the immediate future. The final layout and selection of products and materials must work with how they operate.

This article was featured in High Profile Monthly.