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Amenity Central: What Offices Have to Offer

3 min read

When it comes to operating a business, one of the most interesting things to consider is the space in which the business is run — a topic that is becoming increasingly debated in the post-pandemic world.

The 2020 lockdowns forced many to work remotely, and, as a new generation began entering the workforce during that time, the call for remote work doesn’t appear to be lessening in 2024. According to a report released by the White House in October 2023, “More than one-third of households report working from home more frequently now than they did before the pandemic, and workers go to the office about 3.5 days a week, a 30% reduction from pre-pandemic norms. The changes are squeezing the commercial real estate market, which is dominated by office buildings.”

It’s no surprise that getting people back to the office is difficult for those companies that find the most productivity with in-office work.

A hybrid approach may be on its way to becoming the norm, but for those holding out hope for a full office, there are ways to coax remote workers back. And it all relates to the space itself.

Office Attention Grabbers

Whether downsizing to cope with the amount of hybrid or fully remote workers or simply looking for a new business space, one of the most important things to consider is the amenities offered by or around the space.

According to Kaley Tucker, a property manager and partner with Kelley Commercial Partners, “The amenities that users really gravitate toward include community meeting spaces or conference rooms, full-service break rooms, fitness centers, copy and printing centers and shared administrative personnel just to name a few.”

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey)

While having all of these services in the building is ideal, it’s not necessary. Having a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, fitness centers, lounges or conference centers in a close vicinity can be just as appealing.

Being able to work from anywhere offers workers a sense of freedom that may allow for more creativity and productivity than found when chained to one desk.

While some office leasers are looking for more amenities, others are looking at a bigger picture: overall location.

“I have noticed clients putting a lot more emphasis on being convenient to the largest majority of their employees as possible in an effort to cut down on commute times,” said Casi Runnells, a broker with Colliers. “Since more people are spending fewer days in the office, we’re not seeing the demand for traditional amenities such as gyms and large meeting spaces that we say in the pre-pandemic world. The biggest amenity that I’m seeing now is close proximity to employees’ homes.”

Let’s Talk Leases

While less time spent in the office is interesting for workers, it’s also interesting for those who lease the space — just in a slightly different way.

“There have been changes in the way people work, but… that’s changing back in the other directions,” said Hank Kelley, CEO of Kelley Commercial Partners in an October 2023 panel discussion for the Rotary Club of Little Rock. “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is the new work week… So the good news for office landlords is, if you want to have an office space that’s Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you need about the same space that you would have otherwise.”

With less time spent in the office, those who lease are looking for shorter, more flexible lease arrangements.

“It’s becoming more and more the norm, especially with national companies requesting three-year renewals, even one-year kick-the-can deals to evaluate where they are,” said Clark Irwin, a broker at Colliers International | Arkansas, in the October panel. “We see a lot where decisions are being made from out-of-state and national groups to go to a hybrid environment. When we go and talk to the local groups here that are actually in the office, that’s the last thing they want to do… On the flip side of that, we have seen existing tenants take advantage of adjoining spaces that usually would not be available and we’ve had different groups expand and grow.”

Ultimately, it seems the office of the future will focus less on being a workspace and more on creating an ecosystem that prioritizes flexibility and community. When a happy medium is found, employees are sure to find a new sense of purpose as they make their way back to the office.

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