Culture, collaborative, authenticity, work/life integration – these are the keywords that commercial real estate professionals are keeping in mind as they look for new ways to attract tenants and renew leases. For businesses, these elements are key when looking to relocate or expand their offices, and are critical factors in recruiting and retaining talented employees.
As discussed in the recent Bisnow event, Creative Office and the Growth of Tech, companies and their employees want to be in locations that have walkable amenities and gives people an experience beyond just to going to the office.
Businesses are placing more emphasis on health and wellness components in the office space, as well as flexibility in both office design and technological advances. This includes open floor plans, more collaborative workspace, nearby amenities and transportation options – as one real estate developer panelist noted, “You can’t just have a bike room anymore, you have to have someone in that bike room fixing your bike during the day.”
As many employers are searching for more ways to attract talent in the competitive DC region, these innovative and unique features are considered crucial to recruitment and building company culture.
For real estate developers and owners, this means designing and repositioning new and vacant office space to meet demand. Many design and real estate firms are bringing elements from the hospitality and residential industries to bring more character and full-service amenities to office buildings. This includes cozier lobbies, top of the line fitness centers and sustainable materials and initiatives.
Opower, which recently announced it was staying in Arlington rather than relocating to DC, was particularly interested in the amenitization of the workplace and neighborhood they were located in when making relocation decisions. They evaluated where their employees were commuting from as well as all the nearby services and amenities their staff could take advantage of. The importance of place and the community surrounding an office has become just as important as the internal features when it comes to retaining tenants.
Gensler, the international architecture firm, noted that it’s not just start ups or tech companies that are shifting towards ideas of culture and innovative office trends – they are currently working with Marriott International on designing the interior of their future new headquarters (the location of which is TBD). Some of the priorities listed by Marriott include a site that will attract the best talent, accommodates change and flexibility, “seamless integration” of the brand and where workers have mobility, so they can work anywhere.
As Arlington continues its aggressive economic development initiatives to attract companies and reduce the vacancy rate, commercial property owners will need to consider how to tailor office space and building amenities for tenants.
Creating office suites and building level programs that are in line for company cultures and employee lifestyles will be an important factor in competing with newer submarkets in the DC region such as NoMa, Capitol Riverfront and along the Silver Line.