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Hughes Marino’s Experts Discuss the Trend of Modernizing Offices To Entice Workers To Return to the Office

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Corporate offices can often be drab and depressing, awash in bland colors that an interior designer might call “oatmeal” and “tumbleweed.” These tired spaces come across as sterile, filled with old-style cubicles, and flooded with blinding artificial fluorescent light. So it should come as no surprise that employees yearn to get outdoors and feel some sunlight on their faces. Unfortunately, desktop plants don’t count as green space. 

This demoralizing office aesthetic won’t cut it on the heels of what economists call the Great Resignation, the Big Quit, or the Great Reshuffle. The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to embrace remote working. The net result is a shift in the balance of power between employers and employees, with employees gaining a bit of leverage. Companies seeking top talent and wanting to see them in person and the office must woo them by offering modern, visually appealing spaces that foster creativity, health, and peace of mind. It would be a mistake to assume the office a company had before the pandemic will be adequate to tempt your best employees to return. 

Corporate real estate industry veteran Owen Rice thinks companies will lure employees back to the office if they curate or design their buildings better to fit the needs and desires of the employees. Rice is an Executive Vice President at Hughes Marino, a global corporate advisory firm representing tenants and buyers in commercial space lease and purchase transactions.

Rice is one of four moderators on a new podcast, “The Real Estate Insider,” dedicated to all things corporate real estate. Tucker Hughes acts as moderator and keeps things interesting by asking important and timely questions of Rice and teammates John Jarvis and Brian Connolly. 

In the inaugural podcast episode, Rice described a transformation that made him believe in office overhauls. He was in Washington, D.C., when he saw several floors belonging to a company in the professional service industry. 

“The way they had curated this main hub floor was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” Rice said. “People were activated and moving around. You could hear the espresso machine going. People were working on their laptops — and it was multigenerational, with people in their 50s, 40s, 30s, and 20s working.” 

Standing beside Rice was one of his clients, who turned to him and said, “Do you feel it?” Rice replied, “Oh, yeah.” 

“He was referring to the energy of the room,” Rice said during the podcast. “That company nailed it.” 

Tucker Hughes, the managing director of Hughes Marino, said, “We’ve all been in that situation where you walk in somewhere, maybe it’s a cool restaurant, and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is special! This place has amazing energy,’ or you walk into an office and feel that energy.” 

The Great Resignation and How Hughes Marinos’s Owen Rice, Tucker Hughes, John Jarvis, and Brian Connolly See It Playing Out

U.S. employees are in the driver’s seat now. To find a key reason, look no further than the February 2023 U.S. Labor Department’s employment report. It revealed the country is experiencing its lowest unemployment level since 1969 — 3.4% in January, down from 3.5% in December. It’s a market that favors employees. 

Gallup conducted a survey in June 2022 about how workers feel about where they work. Approximately 56% of full-time employees in the U.S. say their job can be done remotely from home. Of these remote-capable workers, 60% want a long-term hybrid work arrangement.

John Jarvis, Executive Vice president of Hughes Marino, said most companies he works with are critically examining their real estate needs. As a result, they often shed 20% to 30% of their prior space. 

“Then we help them design really inviting spaces,” Jarvis explained. “I’m a much bigger fan of the pull approach to draw people into the office than the push approach, which says, ‘Get back to the office!’”

This reimagined workspace often means less overall square footage and the savings can be reinvested into higher-end buildouts, a better location, or a better building with amenities.

Companies Are Redesigning Offices To Be Comfortable, Communal, and Collaborative 

This trend of office overhauls is a watershed moment for architects, designers, and developers. They reimagine the office as a desirable destination capable of coaxing work-from-home employees out of their cozy armchairs.

According to a story in the Harvard Business Review, organizations today invest in sleek workplaces with smaller, intriguing spaces and more extensive, flexible areas that foster collaboration. In addition, companies are redesigning offices with comfortable and communal spaces to draw employees back to the workplace.

Designers are focused on another piece of the puzzle: the modern employees’ enthusiasm for health, peace of mind, and life balance. This interest has led to outdoor offices that include nontraditional work spaces, terraces, courtyards, and balconies. 

Some offices order extras for the outdoor spaces, including Wi-Fi, heated seating, shade, and sound systems. According to a Cornell University study, designers are creating offices that invite more natural light, which can lead to an 84% drop in symptoms in workers’ eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision. At its Redmond, Washington, campus, Microsoft has gone so far as to offer actual tree house meeting areas (weather permitting).

“An office is a place for collaboration, for extroverted work, for social interaction,” says Daniel Kaplan, a senior partner at FXCollaborative, an architecture firm in Brooklyn, New York. “So we’re seeing big, light-filled interiors, great amenities, and outdoor space.”

Joseph White, the Director of Design Strategy at MillerKnoll, a maker of iconic furniture, says office improvements hit near the heart. 

“It’s about things that are meaningful to people — providing private mothers’ rooms and places for self-care. These are things that the workplace is uniquely suited to support.”

What Makes a Great Office Space?

When Rice and Connolly talked about their work during the debut podcast, they were passionate and curious. One topic Jarvis delved into is a work space’s philosophical and practical meaning.

“What does a great space mean for a company?” Jarvis asked. “What’s going to work for you to incite and encourage your team to be at the office?”

Connolly, an Executive Vice President at Hughes Marino, focused on nuts-and-bolts issues. He wondered if all companies would be able to refurbish their current offices. 

“Can they do it in their existing office, or are we going to start to see the forward-thinking companies move?” he mused. “Are we going to start to see companies move more because it’s hard to create the change in your space?”

Companies seeking to build a happy, healthy, productive workforce must turn their offices into a destination. As employees walk through the doors, they should have an experience that makes them want to return. 

Rice said it simply: “To get people back to work, you must convince them that the office is better than home.”

5 Critical Questions Examined for Successful Real Estate Investing

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Real estate investing is a fantastic way to replace your income, build your wealth, and build financial independence, yet many hesitate to jump in and get started. Here are some of the common questions real estate investor and tax attorney, Brian Boyd is asked, along with tips on how you too, can take advantage of this opportunity. 

What are some of the pros and cons of investing in real estate?

Investing in real estate can have many benefits, but it also comes with some potential drawbacks. Here are a few pros and cons to consider:


  • Potential for steady income streams through rental income and property appreciation.
  • Real estate investments can provide diversification to your investment portfolio.
  • Real estate has proven to be a good hedge against inflation over time.
  • Tax benefits, such as deductions for mortgage interest, property taxes, and depreciation.


  • Real estate investments can require significant capital upfront, making them less accessible to smaller investors.
  • Real estate values can be volatile and are subject to market fluctuations.
  • Property management can require significant time and effort.
  • Real estate investments can also be impacted by government regulations, zoning changes, and local economic conditions.

Overall, investing in real estate can be a lucrative and rewarding endeavor, but it requires careful consideration and planning, therefore you will want to pay attention to what experienced real estate investors have to say in order to save yourself time, money, and potential heartache.

Who should consider investing in real estate?

Real estate can be a viable investment option for a wide range of individuals, depending on their financial goals, resources, and risk tolerance. Here are a few groups of people who might consider investing in real estate:

  1. High-net-worth individuals who are looking to diversify their portfolios and generate passive income streams.
  2. Young professionals who have some savings and are interested in building long-term wealth through smart investments.
  3. Anyone who wants to replace their income from their day job
  4. Real estate professionals or those with a deep understanding of the industry, who can leverage their expertise to identify promising investment opportunities.
  5. Retirees or those nearing retirement who want a reliable source of income (e.g. rental income from real estate investments) to supplement their retirement savings.
  6. Anyone who is interested in owning property and has the financial resources to do so, whether as a full-time landlord, vacation home owner, or some other arrangement.

While real estate can be a lucrative investment option, it is important for investors to carefully assess their financial goals, resources, and risk tolerance before making any decisions. 

How much money do you need to invest in real estate?

The amount of money required to invest in real estate can vary widely depending on the type of investment, location, and other factors. Here are a few examples:

  1. Rental properties: Purchasing a rental property typically requires a down payment of 20-30% of the property’s value, plus closing costs and other fees. Depending on the price of the property and other expenses such as repairs, renovations, and property management, investors may need anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to get started.

  2. Real estate investment trusts (REITs): REITs are securities that allow investors to pool their money to invest in a portfolio of real estate assets. Minimum investments in REITs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the fund.

  3. Real estate crowdfunding: Crowdfunding platforms allow investors to pool their money to invest in specific real estate projects, such as commercial developments or apartment buildings. The minimum investment amount can vary widely, but it is often in the range of a few thousand dollars.

  4. Real estate mutual funds: Mutual funds that invest in real estate can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars, depending on the fund.

Ultimately, the amount of money required to invest in real estate will depend on a number of factors, including the type of investment, the location, the investor’s goals and risk tolerance, and their available resources. 

What are some ways you can easily invest in real estate?

There are several ways to invest in real estate that require varying levels of time, resources, and expertise. Here are a few examples of relatively easy ways to invest in real estate:

  1. Real estate investment trusts (REITs): REITs are publicly traded companies that own and manage real estate assets, such as apartment buildings, office spaces, and shopping centers. Investors can buy shares in a REIT just like they would buy shares in a stock or mutual fund, allowing them to invest in real estate without having to buy physical property.
  2. Real estate crowdfunding: Crowdfunding platforms allow investors to invest in specific real estate projects, such as commercial developments or apartment buildings, by pooling their money with other investors. This can be a relatively low-cost and low-risk way to invest in real estate, as investors can participate with as little as a few thousand dollars.
  3. Real estate mutual funds: Mutual funds that invest in real estate can be purchased through brokers or financial advisors. These funds typically invest in a diversified portfolio of real estate assets, providing investors with exposure to the real estate market without having to manage properties themselves.
  4. Real estate investment groups (REIGs): REIGs allow investors to pool their money to purchase and manage properties. This can be a good option for investors who want to be involved in real estate investments but don’t have the time, expertise or resources to do it alone.

How should someone decide if real estate investing is a wise decision for them?

When considering whether real estate investing is a wise move, there are several factors that individuals should consider:

  1. Financial goals: What are your financial goals for investing? Are you looking to build long-term wealth, generate passive income, or diversify your investment portfolio? Real estate can be a good option for achieving these goals, but it is important to ensure that your investing strategy aligns with your goals.
  2. Resources: How much capital and other resources do you have available for investing in real estate? Investing in real estate typically requires a significant upfront investment, so it is important to ensure that you have the resources available to make the investment.

  3. Risk tolerance: How comfortable are you with risk? Real estate investments can be subject to market fluctuations and other risks, so it is important to have a clear understanding of your risk tolerance before investing.

  4. Knowledge and expertise: Do you have the knowledge and expertise necessary to make informed decisions about real estate investments? If not, it may be beneficial to consult with a professional or to conduct additional research to ensure that you are adequately prepared to make investing decisions.
  5. Market conditions: What are the market conditions in your area and in the real estate industry more broadly? Investing in real estate can be impacted by economic conditions, interest rates, and other factors that may influence the market.

    Real Estate

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    When considering investing in real estate, it is important to do your research and seek professional advice where necessary to ensure that you are making informed decisions about your investments. Replace Your Income: A Lawyer’s Guide to Finding, Funding, and Managing Real Estate Investments by tax attorney Brian T. Boyd is specifically for those thinking about or relatively new to real estate investing.