The pandemic has brought on a new set of unexpected challenges for the Commercial Real Estate Industry. As many employers are urging their staff to head back to the office, they are being met with hesitancy, some reluctancy, and in the worst-case scenario, resignations. The pandemic has re-aligned workplace culture, and employee values, and has shifted the requests for desired amenity spaces.
Prior to the pandemic, popular amenity space requests included various small and large-scale offices and meeting rooms that would be suited to best promote employee collaborations. Whether it was writing on a white board or drawing on a touch-screen television, the goal was to provide a room for employees to brainstorm fresh ideas while promoting company culture. Other tenant build-out requests included game rooms, bleacher seating, event spaces and even a bar in the office, complete with beer on tap. The model was based off a work hard and play hard dynamic that would allow for employees to stay in the office much later than standard office hours, while enjoying spontaneous activities with their co-workers, thus building office morale, and contributing to a thriving culture.
As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s a whole new ball game for building owners and their various amenity spaces. We are currently witnessing a shift in amenity space requests, that, prior to the pandemic, would seem bizarre, unreasonable, and simply out of this world.
“We have found that our clients are particularly focused on designing a workplace that promotes an overall “employee experience” while energizing and exciting employees to return back to the office. In an effort to retain and attract talent, we are seeing a strong focus on buildings that have outdoor spaces including private terraces and shared rooftops as well as appealing retail concepts such as fast casual food halls. – Gabi Koshgarian, Chief Operations Officer, Vicus Partners to fulfill these new tenant requests, building owners are introducing various perks and amenities ranging from on-site childcare to dry-cleaning pickup and even doggy day care centers. Among other amenity requests we are seeing from our clients are food and beverages on site, fitness centers, golf simulators, movie theaters and podcast recording studios.
Additionally, hoteling desks have become increasingly popular as employers are downsizing the square footage of their offices and embracing a hybrid model. Employees have the ability to select their desk each day as they see fit. The hoteling concept is paired with the need for storage. Locker areas have been becoming increasingly popular for those without a designated desk. These are not your traditional high school lockers; the storage units are often a source of attention as they are all uniquely designed and can be controlled by the employees’ cell phones. The rebalancing of amenity spaces is aimed to cater to the interest of what employees really need, rather than trying to entice them with amenities that they do not view as advantageous in the rapidly changing workplace.
While amenities may not be the golden ticket to bring employees back to the office, they will certainly be an important component to attract and retain talent once the workforce returns on a more permanent basis. When it comes to the future of amenity spaces, building owners should aim to expect the unexpected, take a proactive approach to renovations and consider all unique requests even if they seem far-fetched and in left field. Unique amenity spaces are here to stay, and it is up to us to update the commercial real estate space to meet the needs of new age – the hybrid workplace.
Source – CommercialObserver.com