JLL: Flexibility and choice will be key elements of future office cost planning

JLL’s Office Fit Out Guide provides average benchmark office fit out costs across major markets as offices adapt to the new normal in office space

As the vaccine sees further widespread adoption, companies are actively rolling out return to office plans while employees anticipate the return of in-person collaboration. By the end of 2021, its estimated that 80 percent of office workers will have returned to the office. But the world has evolved and accelerated in ways that will alter the future of what that looks like, with employees spending a mix of their working hours between home, the office or anywhere work happens through the adoption of a hybrid work environment. JLL today released its 2021 U.S. and Canada Office Fit Out Guide that offers a proprietary cost matrix of benchmark build-out costs across U.S. and Canadian markets. The guide serves as a comprehensive data-driven tool that provides office occupiers with cost transparency across office styles, build quality levels, and geographic markets to enable them to make better and more informed real estate decisions.

“There is no single solution that answers how offices will change in a post-pandemic world,” said Todd Burns, President, Project and Development Services, JLL. “The only constant will be that flexibility and choice will be key elements of all future office planning. These factors will bring broad implications across the future of office real estate for decades to come.”

JLL’s cost matrix enables office occupiers to benchmark their current costs, and then determine the cost premium or savings when changing offices style in the future.

Source: JLL 2021 U.S. and Canada Office Fit Out Guide; Please see full report for explanation of style, space, and methodology

For occupiers considering transforming future office space with less density, increased technology implementation and a focus on sustainability and wellness, the guide also offers high-level guidance on what those future offices might entail and cost.

  • Mobility and the new partially remote workforce: According to JLL research, 72 percent of employees want to continue working from home post-pandemic, and a majority want to do so an average of 2 days a week. As a result, future office designs will place a greater emphasis on custom collaboration and community spaces.
  • Technology-centric design to support new ways of working: A permanent shift to virtual collaboration will require a reimagination of the technology setups in many existing office designs today. A future workplace designed for a mobility-focused and partly remote workforce will include a greater share of conference rooms, huddle rooms, and flexibility collaboration spaces that allow for video calls and presentations designed for a virtual-first environment.
  • A focus on wellness and sustainability integrated throughout office design: Pandemic-specific measures will subside in tandem with the pandemic, but the increased awareness and focus on health and wellbeing in the office environment will be permanent. More considerations will be placed on sustainability certifications.

“The goal of the cost matrix is to allow everyone to use the specific benchmark that fits their plans, rather than being stuck with a one size fits all benchmark or a single cost range,” said Henry D’Esposito, Senior Research Analyst, National Construction and Project and Development Services, JLL. “Built on thousands of real projects, supported by detailed cost estimating models, and confirmed by local experts working across the country, the results are benchmarks that can be relied on.”

Fit out costs across the United States and Canada range widely from region to region and market to market. The map below shows average fit out costs per rentable square foot for a moderate style, medium quality office in each market.

Fit out costs by geography 

Source: JLL 2021 U.S. and Canada Office Fit Out Guide

For more information on specific construction costs, construction labor, and construction material forecasts for the coming year, read JLL’s H1 2021 Construction Outlook.

For more news, videos and research resources on JLL, please visit our newsroom.

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.6 billion in 2020, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 91,000 as of March 31, 2021. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit