Imagine walking into your office building in the morning and instead of using a badge to head in, you breeze through security thanks to facial recognition technology. You zip up the elevator to the amenities floor where you can take a yoga class and grab a shower in a marble bathroom before heading to the office for the day.
During lunch you head down to the health foods expo in the lobby and after work you grab a drink during an all-employee building event on the terrace.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. This is fast becoming the reality of what a day-in-the-life can and does look like for many office occupants across the country.
What were once considered quirky perks reserved for Silicon Valley startups are now routinely making their way into large office buildings in central business districts where cubicles and wood-paneled corner offices once reigned. Not only are access to amenities proliferating, employees now have an experience that goes along with it.
The ability to manage that experience is the next evolution of the property management business: experience management.
What could possibly be the return on investment for offering an experience management service? Asset managers are paid to monitor costs of their buildings down to the penny, and this could seem like just an extra cost.
The answer is that just like the amenity wars that have put those gyms and terraces into office buildings, the ability to manage the experience of those amenities wins talent and tenants.
Winning talent with moments of delight
It’s no secret the labor market is tight. In fact, job openings hit a new record high of about 7.1 million in March, further cementing the labor shortage that has been felt through the market recently. Also, in the private sector people are changing jobs at a higher rate, lured by higher wages. Wage growth for job switchers is at about 4.6 percent while overall wage growth is about 3.2 percent, according to the most recent government data.
As demographics continue to shift, companies are realizing the value of fully-amenitized office space as another attractor to top talent as they compete in the battle for talent in this tight labor market.
An organization’s physical workplace tells employees and candidates a lot about how it values openness, collaboration, well-being and sustainability, among other things. In fact, a growing ﬁeld of research indicates that the physical workplace is a critical asset in a company’s ability to attract and retain top talent.
Millennials, now the largest cohort in the workforce, and their predecessors in Generation Z, value experience. Providing those experiences in the workplace can determine where they want to work.
Dr. Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research for JLL Corporate Solutions, describes this phenomenon best:
“A workplace that is powered by the human experience goes beyond a work-life balance. It drives how people feel about their place of work. How empowered, engaged and fulfilled they are, it’s the purposeful fusion of life and work based on authentic human experiences.”
These experiences can be as small as a flawless entry system or as large as an organized employee engagement event, but they all inspire moments of delight that keep current or potential employees engaged.
Showing tenants love leads to leasing
Just like the workforce, corporate tenants have more choices today than at nearly any time in the past. According to the latest JLL U.S. Office Outlook, there is more than 110.4 million square feet of office space under construction, which could help tip the scales to a more tenant-friendly market.
Owners are courting those tenants in the same way those tenants are recruiting talent – with product that differentiates itself in every way possible, including by offering experiences. One real world example of how experience management is drawing tenants is the new Cloud Level on the 70th floor of Chicago’s Aon Center.
What was once office space is now a fully staffed 34,000-square-foot amenity floor that includes a 16,000-square-foot fitness center with spacious, luxury locker rooms, a club-like tenant lounge and a plethora of conference spaces for tenants to choose from. Designed by Gary Lee Partners, the Cloud Level opened as Chicago’s highest office amenity space with unbelievable views of the city, lake and park, and compliments the building’s newly renovated lobbies.
“The Aon Center is an iconic building in Chicago’s skyline, and we’re ensuring it keeps that status with high-end improvements throughout the building, including a renovated lobby and the new Cloud Level,” said Mark Karasick, Managing Partner at Aon Center owner 601W Cos. “It’s about giving tenants the peace of mind that they will have everything they need right there in their building.”
The Aon Center is nearly fully-leased to credit tenants, in no small part thanks to the building’s beautiful amenities.
Experience will be table stakes
Basic functions of property management aren’t going away anytime soon. Keeping the lights on, the HVAC running efficiently and ensuring your building is up to code will always be critical.
But the ability to be able to provide an amenities and programming that appeals to an experience-driven workforce and the companies that are recruiting them will become just as important as those basic functions.
Next time you’re in your office building, ask yourself: what do I wish we had here? Chances are, a recruit is thinking the same thing. Being ready to answer that question with action can be the difference between winning and losing your next star employee, or tenant.
Mark Zettl is the president of JLL Property Management. The views expressed here are the author’s own and not that of ALM’s Real Estate Media Group.