Commercial real estate tenants have reached a new measure of expectations and demands for office amenities. It's difficult to pinpoint one specific time when this shift took place, but it's become very clear that the office market has moved away from cutting costs to deliver the cheapest space possible. Instead, landlords offer the most differentiated space possible with amenities, experiences, and technology that sets them apart from another office or coworking space in their neighborhood.
The reason for this comes down to their customer, the tenant. At one point, tenants were OK living in a world of fluorescent neon lights and cubicle farms because many others lived in that world too. But workplace design evolved, in part due to remote work and technology, and a personalized user experience was born out of millennial-centric coworking options like WeWork, and eventually Industrious, The Yard, etc. WeWork put a face to tenants, referred to them as members, and as a result, those members love WeWork because it makes them feel like they are part of a community and experience tailored specifically to them.
For tenant companies of all sizes, the need for good talent drives all amenity and workplace experience demands/investments. Every business is competing for the best talent – whether they are an emerging startup or an established Fortune 500 company – and every prospective and current employee inspects the office culture, environment, benefits, and perks.
The talent war for tenants has spurred the amenities war for landlords. Employee recruitment and retention has become so intertwined with workplace experience that quite often HR and people ops teams on the tenant level are tasked with daily real estate and office amenity decisions to keep teams happy and engaged. For landlords who want to relieve the burden of this responsibility for their tenants, there is a new set of office amenities that employees have come to expect and even more amenities they would love to access at work.
Baseline Expectations for Office Amenities
As I mentioned, the amenities game is strong to quite strong right now. Many office buildings that ran the leanest operations and scraped by with no amenity offerings are quickly realizing that it doesn't fly with today's tenant. Here are some of the bare minimum amenities that tenants have come to expect:
- Clean, modern facilities: Landlords need to invest in updated fixtures and cleaning services in common areas such as the lobby, restrooms, stairwells, etc. Any renovations in these areas will go a long way if they mirror current design best practices: sleek, simple, homelike, with lots of natural light.
- Dynamic common areas: Millennials love unconventional spaces in which to set up shop and work for a few hours. Landlords can go a long way in redesigning common areas for social, open, collaborative, and flexible workspace where employees can get away from their desk for a change of scenery.
- Reliable infrastructure: Businesses lose time and money when their office infrastructure fails. In the past, this has always referred to electricity, elevators, HVAC, plumbing, etc. But now more than ever, a reliable infrastructure means connectivity to meet communication demands. Every single company is becoming a technology company in some way, shape, or form, and almost every industry does business over the internet, so reliable WiFi is an absolute must. A bad internet connection is a deal breaker for tenants because major revenue is on the line. If you're unsure whether your building is set up for tech businesses to succeed, refer to Wiredscore, the industry standard for connectivity certification in commercial real estate.
- Easy, transparent access to office operators: Old school customer service just won't fly anymore. Your customers want to be able to reach you at the drop of a hat, whether you like it or not. Making it easier for them to reach you or learn about happenings at the office will make for a healthier longterm relationship built on communication, honesty, and trust.
Must-Have Office Amenities
For landlords that are slightly more ambitious and want to make sure they stand apart from the competition, here are the amenities tenants consider must-have when choosing a better-than-average workplace experience.
- Food options nearby: Mixed use real estate is all the rage right now because tenants want everything at their doorstep, so landlords who can offer an awesome coffee shop or a salad and grain bowl spot right in the lobby will make tenants happy.
- Commuter friendly: Landlords can help tenants with their commute in big and small ways, from a bike rack outside or a bike room with showers and lockers, to a shuttle that brings tenants to public transportation – these touches make a tenant's life that much easier.
- Health & fitness options: Health and wellness is a huge priority for many businesses because management (and their employees) understand the physical and mental benefits of exercise and an overall healthy lifestyle, as well as it's impact on work performance. If you don't have a gym in your building, consider on-demand health & fitness options you can bring onsite like weekly yoga instructors, nutrition coaches.
- All things tech-enabled: People are so dependent on their mobile phones – we live on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and we use our phones to chat with friends and Slack with coworkers, share photos, write reviews, pay bills, order food, and so much more. Tenants expect that mobile UX to carry over into office life – how they get into the building, find out when the shuttle is coming, order lunch, get their afternoon coffee, get into their office gym, sign up for a yoga class in the lobby, and so much more. Adding a layer of tenant-facing proptech makes your property feel so much more amenitized than it even is, because a mobile UX is second nature and so familiar.
Nice-to-Have & Wow-Factor Office Amenities
For landlords that really want to hit it out of the park, the following amenities will certainly wow tenants.
- Roofdeck or outdoor space: Just like natural light is important for a good frame of mind at work, getting outside for fresh air is equally beneficial. Tenants are simply delighted by outdoor amenities like roofdecks, courtyard patios, etc. – especially in cities where space like that is overvalued.
- Pet-friendly spaces: People love their dogs, and offices that can cater to businesses who allow employees to bring their pets to work will be seen as a real above and beyond perk. Luxury residential buildings are going so far as to add special pet relief areas and DIY grooming areas, as well as on-demand walking services.
- Concierge access: Speaking of services, office buildings that provide amenities like dry cleaning services, car detailing, grocery delivery, etc. – all on-demand and available to tenants on their phone – will really wow them by making their chores after work, otherwise known as "second shift," so much simpler.
- Visiting perks: Simply put, your tenants will LOVE free surprise treats like food trucks, chair massages, mani/pedis, espresso carts, happy hours, wine tastings, and so much more.
- People's Choice: Why guess which amenities your tenants want most when you could just ask them? Every single office building, company, and individual tenant is different, with different jobs, different commutes, different interests. With certain proptech today, it's so much easier to understand what tenants truly want. Just ask them... you might be surprised, and your tenants will truly be happy.
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PS - Are we missing any crazy or awesome amenities in this post? We'd love to hear 'em, and we'll update the blog to include them here!