With the holidays just around the corner, “wish lists” seem to be very topical in many conversations. Staying on theme, for those thinking about their next lease, we thought we’d share the findings from our meetings with tenants this year. Interestingly they are quite consistent with the findings of Gensler’s 2019 US Workplace Survey, MIT’s Center for Real Estate and Sustainable Design as well as a few other surveys conducted this year. Without further ado, The Tenants’ New Office Space Wish List:
1. Quality IT Connectivity
A WiredScore survey showed 77% of tenants would sign a longer lease in a building with quality connectivity. Quality connectivity should also include bandwidth, greater choice of provider, and consistent delivery. After all, poor connectivity equals lower productivity equals lower profitability and a less motivated workforce, having a direct impact on employee retention.
Less about fun (think foosball) than it is about function (work optimization). A recent survey by Clutch showed nearly half of workers value community space. This can take many forms but what we’ve seen this year in buildings in Manhattan is the addition of conferencing space, lounge space (whether that be in the common hallways or the lobby), coffee, or snack spots (the alternative to meeting at Starbucks), and even gyms (time efficiency as healthy and happy employees less time away from the office equals more time in the office).
3. Accessibility to Public Transportation
It helps explain why in part the Financial District with 15 subways running through it, rents are at all-time highs as well as the smallest historical discount to the rest of Manhattan. And, while many point to the move West to Hudson Yards, I still maintain Grand Central’s central location for all those commuters coming from the North will keep it extremely sought after by tenants.
4. Natural Light
MIT’s Survey of 5,000 office spaces on over 900 buildings in Manhattan showed that the presence of natural light in the workplace environment improves human health, well being, and productivity. Nuf said.
5. Quiet & Tech-Free Zones
Now, I know what you’ll say, Gregg isn’t that counter to the trend towards open space? And you’d be right, it is kinda. But open space is not a be all end all. It takes many different forms, and while there may be a place for open space, there’s also a place for what I’ll call “Focus” space and I don’t think phone booths, blinders (think horse blinders for humans), and noise cancelling headsets are the best solutions. In 2019 we witnessed what I call peak open space, and we will see square foot per person actually start to increase from here, meaning more square foot per person not less.
6. Alternative & Collaborative Workspaces
Gone are the days of rigidity inside the 4 walls of a physical office space. Businesses are changing so fast they want to be with landlords who can offer them more space given the rapid growth that many are experiencing.
The Clutch survey showed more than 50% value the flexibility of working in different locations within their space, not just at their desk.
A poll by Future Workspace, the #1 want by employees is view of the outdoors. Now, you could say that means natural light. But, if you look at the trend of Biophilia, reads the addition of greenery to indoor workspace. Additional momentum to the movement has come from a landmark study in Denmark this year that showed the positive impact of exposure to greenery to one’s mental health. Net Net: Green is Good.