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Your Next Office Space: How to Prioritize Amenities to Support Recruiting and Retention

June 16, 2016 | by Reza Ahmadi, Ph.D., Jeff Gagnon, Richardo (Rick) V. Ybarra | Download as PDF

Building amenities can reinforce your company’s culture and help with employee recruitment and retention. But how do you decide which amenities should be priorities in your next space? 

When your company is looking for new office space, there is often a long list of considerations that can grow more complex by the day. Not only are there the primary factors of cost, space, building, locational factors and talent considerations -- each building will also offer a different combination of amenities. 

When considering the talent criteria, it’s important to consider which amenities are going to best fit your company’s culture, support recruiting and retention efforts, enhance employee engagement, provide a boost for office productivity, and make your employees happiest. So the key question is: how can you integrate the right level of amenities throughout your real estate solution to support these goals and objectives?

As your company establishes both qualitative and quantifiable criteria for your next office space, it is important to understand the possibilities, and what similar companies are doing in your industry. So what are the current trends for amenities in the commercial real estate (CRE) market? Let’s take a look… 

Trend Report: CRE Amenities

Live, Work, Play – It’s All About Convenience

This popular phrase has been tossed around the CRE industry quite a lot lately. The idea is that as technology advances have allowed us to begin working from anywhere, companies are wrestling with how to address the multiple generations within the workforce, and millennials in the workforce are shaping a more fluid idea of work-life balance. Building owners are responding by integrating leisure and convenience amenities into their real estate offerings. 

The live-work-play trend is patterned after a hospitality approach to CRE. It considers the daily tasks and pleasures that are outside of our work life, and strives to bring them into close proximity to the office. 

  • Cafes, restaurants and bars
  • A walkable environment
  • Entertainment
  • Banking
  • Fitness
  • Retail options
  • Spa and hair salon
  • Dry cleaning
  • Pharmacy
  • Car wash
  • Shoe shine and repair 

The result is centralized locations where workers can accomplish personal errands like dry cleaning and picking up a prescription over lunch, head to a nearby café for an off-site meeting with colleagues, and hit the gym after work – all with relative ease and convenience. It saves time and makes these day-to-day tasks easier to accomplish, leading to happier and more productive employees.

 

Technology is the Key to a Flexible Workplace
 

Current workplace trends are expanding on the “work from home” approach to flexibility by offering a variety of work settings within the workplace itself. By offering people options for where and how to do their work, companies can meet the needs of different work styles and provide settings for focusing on different types of work.

This approach may include spaces for individual work, such as offices or cubicles, as well as more open meeting areas for small collaborative sessions, meeting rooms for more formal gatherings, and lounge type social areas for impromptu meet-ups. 

The flexible workplace requires several different kinds of spaces within the office layout and design, which can be created in many different tenant settings, but more importantly it requires a robust technology infrastructure to enable a work-from-anywhere culture to take root. 

This technology infrastructure must include fast, reliable connectivity to ensure consistent coverage throughout the building. Additional building amenities that will contribute to a technology-friendly office include:

  • Plug and play collaboration technology in all meeting areas
  • Video conferencing capabilities (desktop and collaboration areas)
  • Fast, reliable elevators 
  • Efficient security and turnstile procedures
  • A car charging station/port
  • Environmental media for a visitor experience 

To build on these amenities, companies may also consider technology elements such as seamless document sharing and management; Voice Over IP follow-me phones; and a consistent set-up in every space and location. 

Healthy & Happy:

The Importance of the Natural Environment and Wellness Amenities

The positive affects of natural light are well known and documented. Consulting firm Arcadis notes in its 2016 Trends in the Workplace report that “exposure to greenery and sunlight yields a 15% increase in well-being and creativity and a 6% increase in productivity.” Human beings evolved in natural settings, and our bodies require ample light, fresh air and access to outdoor space to regulate our hormones and stress reactions, and maintain a feeling of contentment.

While the convenience and technology amenities that we mentioned above can contribute significantly to a positive and productive work environment, nothing is as basic a human need as light and air. 

CRE that provides ample natural light and healthy indoor air quality are common and should be expected as a minimum for most tenants, however there is a growing trend to provide more extensive access to the natural environment. Amenities to look for that will support your employee’s healthy bodies and minds can include:

  • Patio
  • Walking paths
  • Secure, weather-protected bicycle locking facilities 
  • Easy-access showers
  • Exercise facility
  • Sound control 

Get Creative!

Uncommon Amenities that Reflect Your Company Culture

While technology infrastructure and convenience amenities are commonly considered as part of the CRE search process, there may be other more unique amenities that companies can create in partnership with the building owner and/or other local businesses. For inspiration, consider a few of the amenities that Incentive Magazine highlighted in the article, “The Power of Perks”:

These more personalized amenities can be particularly powerful for recruiting and company branding. Key factors when considering more creative amenity offerings should include how they will support the business’ existing culture, what kind of value they will hold for employees, and how the benefits compare with the resources required to provide that particular amenity.

Weighing the CRE Options:

Which Amenities Will Deliver ROI for Your Business’ Recruiting and Retention Goals?

The key to identifying which amenities will deliver the most value in terms of employee recruiting and retention throughout your tenancy is to know thyself, as the ancient Greek saying goes. Understanding and acknowledging where your business is today – in terms of the demographics of its employees, their needs and wants, its operational processes, and leadership style – is the baseline for defining your very individualized wish list of amenities. This should then be considered in the context of the company’s desired future culture and identity (if this is different from its current state).

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