This "office of the future" thing is starting to catch fire

First it was NRT’s Manhattan Beach Project. That was circa 2005, a year following a presentation Brian and I gave the folks at NRT about the paperless office.

Then it was Intero’s Andare office on Santana Row, which has been getting considerable attention these days.

Last week Inman featured a guest perspective by Matt Dollinger from @properties [disclosure: @properties is a 1000WATT Consulting client] that took the notion of a future real estate office to some far-reaching lengths. Given the absolutely stunning nature of their facilities, I can certainly see where he was coming from.

Today Coldwell Banker announced their own take on the office of the future, which offers several of the ideas and appointments taken from the participants at a workshop we moderated with Sherry Chris last summer at Real Estate Connect.

Just now I was sent a link that introduced me to the Dunes Properties website, which includes a microsite built around their office of future.

Man is this hot!

Here’s what I like:

The website itself is super clean. It has a Web 2.0 feel to it which I found to be quite elegant and appropriate for real estate. I love the simple navigation that excludes all those typical things most brokerage websites offer that nowadays seem so pointless, such as” Buyer Tips,” “Free Reports,” etc.

I was excited to find a “Contact Me” page that actually offers a phone number, which strangely enough is not all that common. Many brokerage sites don’t publish a phone number anywhere on their site.

Oddly, the site is missing a direct link to search. If you click around long enough you’ll find it, but I wonder how many users will put in as much effort as I did searching for it.

Nevertheless, the payoff on this site is the microsite, a “studio tour.What a great idea. And talk about environmental branding — holy cannoli!

I’ve quickly logged a host of suggestions that would make this microsite much better, such as including some video, live chat, links to PR, a blog and quite possibly a live cam – things that could bring this place to life.

But here’s my bottom line: If I lived in Charleston or decided to move there and needed to source out a brokerage, I’d go with Dunes. This facility creates that much of a wow factor for me. Considering I recently hired an agent to work with me in Austin due to her quick trigger on Twitter, and how nicely this has worked out for us, I trust my gut on this one.

While this website itself might not make our Top 10, and while there are many things I would do to improve the site, this post is more about what some brokerages are doing today to create difference, to spread the seeds of their brand, create impact and build something that brings them into the here and now. And poise themselves for the future.

I know there is considerable focus on the virtual office. But there is still something precious about a terrestrial facility — if it is done right.I have a feeling we are going to seeing more and more of these as time goes on.

– Davison Twitter: 100wattmarc