Commercial Office Space: Creating Office Space That Appeals To Millennials

Sep 26, 2016

As of last year, Millennials make up the largest segment of the U.S. population.

By 2025, Millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce, which, with their easy reliance on technology and sustainability values, have led the rapid growth of the live-work-play movement.

For commercial real estate, the influence of millennials on the workplace is a visible one and is expected to become even more important as more of this population comes to expect workplace amenities.

Commercial Real Estate Workplace Amenities Geared Towards MillennialsMillennials' investing in office building

Outside the office, millennials enjoy workplaces that offer convenient transit, cultural attractions, and a variety of dining choices.

Inside the office, the generation that embraces technology yet eschews hierarchy in favor of cooperation, prefers spaces that allow collaboration and socialization throughout the building.

Millennials are not tied to their desks, perhaps due to their comfort with mobile technology, are they are used to spaces that allow them to work while having fun.

As a result, many companies hoping to attract this slice of the population have begun remodeling traditionally designed offices in the hopes of attracting – and keeping – skilled employees.

Here are some changes savvy investors can make to attract Class A tenants.

Choose Open Floor Plans

Mobile technology has allowed millennials to choose environments that made it easy for them to join people, technology, and information seamlessly.

Rather than being alone and bound to a cubicle for eight hours a day, Millennials are looking for spaces that both inspire and allow them to spontaneously collaborate with co-workers.

As a result, some investors are re-designing offices to include areas that are designed around common tasks rather than specific people are the norm in these new workplace environments.

Staples, for example, opened a center in Seattle geared to the software sector. The space uses a wide-open layout for its employees and allows pets. In order to facilitate teamwork, Staples maintains conference rooms.

KPMG, an audit, tax, and advisory firm has opened what the firm calls “Ignition Centers.” With employees in high-tech positions such as IT integration, solution development, and application programming, Ignition Centers have eschewed offices for an open floor plan that uses standing desks with two monitors, whiteboards, and booths reminiscent of a restaurant.

Offer A Variety Of Spaces

Millennials office investment

In order to accommodate a variety of types of work, open floor plans should also include zones that allow some degree of choice and control over the amount of socializing to be done. For example, there should be areas where employees who wish to focus exclusively on a particular task can comfortably work.

Being able to choose the type of space that works best is a good way of boosting job satisfaction and employee productivity.

Education First, an international education company based in Boston, designed an office that has sixteen different types of flexible workspaces. Some of the rooms include conference style rooms and soundproof phone rooms.

Half of the space have video-conference tools and whiteboard walls, while others boast Apple TVs, smart glass technology, Chromecasts, and flat screen displays which can stream content to meeting participants.

Another company, digital marketing and communication firm Dentsu Aegis, installed sophisticated video conferencing tech in order to overcome the difficulty in collaboration between nearly 30,000 employees spread out among five continents and 24 time zones.

For those physically present in the office, breakout areas offer couches and chairs and a kitchen where employees can grab a bite to eat.

Include Workplace Amenities

Offering tenants a variety of amenities is a well-known tactic for owners of multi-family properties.

However, the increase of Millennials in the workplace and the end of the 9 to 5 workday have led a growing number of investors to put workplace amenities at the top of their to-do lists.

The trend first started with tech firms occupying spaces that were previously industrial, but it didn’t take long for owners of Class A office buildings to see the value-add of workplace amenities in both primary and secondary markets.

Amenities like rooftop terraces with built-in pools and jacuzzi’s, fully-equipped exercise rooms, and dedicated co-sharing office space are just the beginning. Investors are scrambling to find luxury amenities that set their properties apart from other top-tier properties.

Indeed, with many blue-chip companies requiring workplace amenities from the get-go, some investors have added banking facilities, barbers, spas, hairdresser and nail salons, and even wellness centers – usually after having added state of the art information technology and environmentally friendly infrastructure.

Some examples of commercial properties who’ve added amenities include Rockefeller Center, where little-used terraces have been turned into outdoor lounges for executives and tenants. The Empire State building added a state of the art exercise room.

The ultimate goal is to create an employee-sponsored community that provides a variety of work and non-work related resources for its employees.

If that sounds familiar, then it probably is because these are nearly the same goals as mixed-use buildings. And as the number of millennials in the workplace increases, we’ll start to see a more commercial office buildings transition from stand-alone properties to a complex mix of retail, office, and residential.

Undoubtedly, millennials’ preference for sustainability, loft-like spaces, and walkable places will continue to shape both commercial properties and the businesses that occupy them.



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