Revised Priorities & Building Strategies
Key employee considerations when returning to the office include the ability to maintain a work/life balance; staying connected with co-workers; flexible, productive work environments; access to technology; and opportunities to eat healthy, reduce stress and remain active. At the same time, businesses are being tasked to reconceptualize office environments to support this holistic approach to well-being while also creating workspaces that reinforce culture, foster collaboration, drive innovation, and safeguard their employees.
Now we face a myriad of converging realities. The pandemic forever and fundamentally changed the future of the office, and the fate of both the urban and suburban office building is still to be determined.
However, we can say with certainty: “The office (building) is not dead!” As vacancy rates approach 20% across the country, strategic building repositioning projects may provide the most cost-effective and sustainable tool in the leasing toolkit. Additionally, shared building amenities provided as part of a building repositioning effort can quickly become deciding factors when renewing leases with existing tenants or finalizing deals with new tenants.
Therefore, it is important to consider a holistic approach that focuses on improving occupant experience and the impression it makes when thinking about a building repositioning strategy.
There are several key factors to focus on:
1. Location & Access
While the old adage “location, location, location” remains a cornerstone in commercial real estate, many of the factors defining the value of “location” have evolved. We may not be able to do much about a property’s physical location, but there are design ideas that, when creatively and properly implemented, can update a building’s perception – increasing visibility, improving connectivity to a neighborhood and adjacent community, and streamlining the overall approach and access to the facility.
Access also plays a pivotal role in attracting and retaining building tenants and remains critical to any successful building repositioning strategy. Whether a building is in an urban or suburban environment, the arrival sequence provides an important first impression and serves as a “welcome mat” for the tenant experience. It is also the first opportunity for building owners to represent through design their values to tenants.
In most instances, this opportunity begins even before one enters a building. How do the lobby and public spaces engage with the landscape/streetscape? Are there opportunities to provide indoor/outdoor work and retail environments? Can the lobby become an activated, dynamic space?