MADISON, NJ—Older office properties are benefiting from careful planning when repositioning for future use, according to Kimberly Sacramone, design director of the interior architecture practice of HLW International. The architecture firm just opened a New Jersey office in Madison, which Sacramone leads as managing director.

HLW New Jersey worked with Lincoln Equities Group, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, and Real Estate Arts to launch the rebranding of 5 Giralda Farms, a suburban office complex that will provide upscale amenities to its tenant base.

“What we are helping them to visualize is the kinds of environments that CEOs today are looking for, which tends to be very different than what I have found CEOs in past years to be looking for,” Sacramone tells exclusively. “Leaders are realizing the the importance of the physical work environment to attract and retain employees.”

The location of buildings, the types of environments, and the amenities are becoming more important than in the past in terms of attracting workers, she says. She dismisses the conventional wisdom that Millennials only want to work in gritty urban environments, however.

“I think there is a lot to be said about being within nature, and a lot of companies are interested in the whole employee, creating a healthy work environment where people can get out and go for a walk, and exercise,” she says. “There’s a balance with what I am hearing from clients. There are also ways, like shuttle buses, where you can bring mass transit points to a more remote building or asset.”

HLW’s design teams have extensive knowledge of how to best help companies reflect their values through design, Sacramone says. At the same time, however, companies in all industries are focused on bringing leading edge technologies into their designs to make buildings functional as well as attractive physically.

“We share a lot of best practices, and what I’m finding is that every company is really a technology company,” she says, noting that even financial services firms want to get the tech piece right. “We’re working with Brown Brothers Harriman right now and the space we are designing for them is very technologically forward-thinking and trying to attract this Millennial generation as well.”

Sacramone says companies need to deal with their workers’ fears when moving to an open office environment.

“Employees can get nervous that you’re going to move them from an office to a tiny workstation out in the open,” she says. “A properly designed office environment has a balance between quiet space where an individual can focus and concentrate, as well as spaces that are appropriately sized for collaboration. I’ve seen a lot of spaces that don’t allow that balance.”

Acoustics, temperature and lighting are also important facets of good office redesign, but often get short shrift, Sacramone says. “It’s really something that we’re trying to pay attention to, and fine tune those elements to make someone comfortable within their environment.”

Sacramone is a professional member of the International Interior Design Association, holds an NCIDQ certification and is LEED Accredited.

You can hear an extended audio interview with Kim Sacramone in the audio player below.