The Next Big Office Tenant Amenity???

April 17, 2024

More and more U.S. workers are returning to the office – but not into the space of their dreams. Even though work styles have changed significantly since the pandemic, many companies have neglected their outdated office designs. As a result, workers are finding it difficult to balance between teamwork and quiet/heads-down work.  We want to know WHEN employees WILL want to come back to work….There’s more in the article below, but here are the key takeaways:

  • Only 38% of companies around the world and 31% in the U.S. have changed their office space in the past three years. Yet, 61% of workers say they do better work in an actual office.
  • Workers today want office space where they can both work with teams AND have quiet alone time. They spend about 35% of their time working by themselves.
  • Amenities are not just a requirement in big co-working spaces anymore.  Tenants in Class A Buildings want collaboration rooms, meditation/quiet rooms, gyms, cafes, and even bars! 

After the pandemic, there’s a big difference between what workers need from an office and what they’re getting.  In order to get employees back to the office, many companies find they need to give their office space a facelift, while landlords invest heavily in common area amenities to attract these companies.  We live this every day and are here to help —give us a call!



Many Workers Say They Are Returning To the Office — of the 2010s

While Some Businesses Renovated, Others Hold Off Updating Workspace Until Trends Solidify

Only about a third of U.S. employers surveyed redesigned workspaces since the pandemic, leaving offices with desks and cubicles in fixed locations. (Photo illustration by iStock)

By Andy Peters
CoStar News

June 25, 2023 | 7:20 P.M.

Across corporate America in 2023, more workers are headed to the office. But some may be returning to the workspace of a different era.

Only 38% of employers worldwide surveyed by architecture firm Gensler said they have redesigned their offices in the past three years, while only 31% did so in the United States. About 61% of employees said they feel more productive when working at the office instead of at home.

Commercial real estate professionals told CoStar News that workers and employers say the office these days needs to let them bounce ideas off coworkers in person so they can read their body language — and avoid wrestling with mute buttons. It must also provide quiet, alone time they can’t get at home.

“Sometimes you need to keep your head down and be left alone and produce documents,” said Bo Jackson, principal at commercial developer Greenstone Properties, in an interview.

While there are weekly attendance ups and downs, Chicago, Dallas and New York recently set post-pandemic office use records, with part of the uptick stemming from employers including search engine provider Google and banking company JPMorgan Chase ordering workers back to the office, citing what they say is remote work’s long-term negative effect on productivity. That usage trend is according to security technology firm Kastle Systems, which tracks key-card data from properties it services.

Gensler, the largest architecture firm in the United States by revenue, surveyed 14,000 full-time workers in its home country, Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the Philippines between last June and December. Respondents excluded workers who had not yet returned to the office since the start of the pandemic.

Of course, finding that there’s a need for companies to pay to redesign their offices benefits San Francisco-based Gensler, which collects revenue for doing just that. And many companies did embark on retrofitting their offices after the pandemic hit.

Even so, it doesn’t add up that so few employers have designers to give office spaces a post-pandemic refresh, said Erinn Cerreta, senior vice president of workplace strategy at JLL. Many white-collar workers ended up at home at some point during the pandemic collaborating with little more than a Zoom screen, so it’s more notable now that cubicles and desks in rows remain the predominant set-up and most workers don’t have a choice where they can work within an office.

Static Spaces

Having a choice of where to work within the office is part of the new concept of flexibility, reflecting the fact that some office workers now only come into the workplace on certain days during the week. That philosophy can now seem incongruous in a static area.

“That’s not how people work anymore,” Cerreta told CoStar News. She wasn’t involved in the Gensler study.

After going home to work in the pandemic, employees say they now want to work in settings that foster collaboration with colleagues, such as a “huddle space” of chairs grouped together, Cerreta said. Or they want to float about the office or outside while still getting work done.

Yet, at the same time, workers also say they want to be able to be alone to concentrate for about a third of their day. Employees spend an average of 35% of their typical week working alone, which is critical to performing their job, and that 73% of that time working alone requires high concentration, Gensler found.

Adobe’s newly redesigned headquarters in San Jose, California, includes amphitheater seating options for workers. (Gensler)

Across all countries, office workers said the workplace is not supporting the two-thirds of the time they are collaborating.

“I may not be in front of my screen all day,” said Jackson of Greenstone Properties. “Some of my work may be during a walk or while I’m outside having a cup of coffee.”

Members of the labor force now say they come to the office for private work time in order “to focus on my work,” according to Gensler.

National Instruments is remodeling its headquarters in Austin, Texas. (Gensler)

That’s where workers are saying that employers are falling short, Janet Pogue McLaurin, global director of workplace research at Gensler, told CoStar News. A home office may be private, but it’s easy to get distracted there by unsorted laundry or package deliveries. The office building doesn’t have to be that way.

“Our expectations for how people work has shifted, but the space has not,” McLaurin told CoStar News. “You want to come into the office to get your work done, which involves not only working with others, but which also means working alone,” she said.

Different Uses

Employees of office tenants say they are looking for more quiet spaces, McLaurin said. That sometimes will require construction work to retrofit a floor plan, or it can mean creating a “library” that serves as a large, quiet room that can also put workers tired of working in isolation near others without distraction.

Adobe’s new headquarters in San Jose, California, includes quiet rooms. (Gensler)

Some redesigns require capital expenditures, but other steps are essentially free, Cerreta said. That can mean rearranging desks or converting a closet to a private office.

“It’s minimal, it’s little tweaks and not doing huge renovations,” she said.

Some employers have made major structural changes to their interior workspaces. When asset manager AllianceBernstein moved into a new office in Nashville, Tennessee, last year, its new space included wider employee desks and multiple spaces for collaborative work, according to the company.

AllianceBernstein’s headquarters includes rooms for meditation and quiet time. (AllianceBernstein)

Alcohol has also played a role in some redesigns. Architecture firm Cooper Carry added a wine bar to its redesign of the Atlanta office of general contractor DPR Construction, said Brian Parker, leader of the firm’s interior design studio.

Some potential clients have told Cooper Carry that they’re waiting because of uncertainty about the economy and whether recent increases in office attendance will stick, said Parker.

“Many of the clients I’m talking to have been ready but they’re waiting out the financial storm,” Parker told CoStar News. He wasn’t involved in the Gensler study.

Those employers that wait run the risk of falling behind competitors, Jackson said. It may seem logical to wait until an office lease expires and the price of redesigns can be expensive, but there are also employee retention concerns.

“Those two-thirds of employers that haven’t done redesigns risk underperforming as an enterprise,” Jackson said. “You’re not meeting what your employees demand. We have to create irresistible work environments.”


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