Modern office building amenities look little like those that dominated a few years ago. These days, businesses compete for the most talented employees by offering not only enticing salaries and benefits packages, but also modern and tech-forward features designed to improve workplace satisfaction. These amenities can also aim to improve collaboration, which has been identified by JLL Research as the number one reason why corporate leaders opt for in-office work arrangements.
While luxurious amenities remain common, commercial office owners are becoming more strategic about which features they provide. Many have taken a close look at the interplay between workplace amenities and work environment — and they’ve concluded that previously trendy (and expensive) offerings sometimes do little to improve employee satisfaction. Now, the best office facilities focus on workplace amenities that provide genuine value.
The Latest Office Amenity Trends
Modern workplace amenities take many forms, ranging from the luxurious to strictly practical. Throughout the past several years, an effort to promote collaboration has underscored many trends in office amenities, which — alongside the enduring open office layout — aim to foster a sense of community.
These days, the most effective office amenity trends integrate physical and digital elements to create a more well-rounded and diverse workplace. Such tech-forward features are particularly appealing to employees who work from home or split their time between remote and in-office work. These amenities serve as a digital extension of the physical office to keep all employees engaged, regardless of their location. Examples include:
- App-based digital programming that encourages collaboration. Social forums and virtual classes and events can help remote and in-person employees stay connected throughout the day. Tenant apps often go beyond a strictly social purpose and are often combined with workplace solutions such as mobile access and resource booking capabilities.
- Innovation hubs to provide an efficient break from traditional workspaces. Employees who crave time away from their typical desks appreciate communal areas known as innovation hubs, which often include open layout workstations and tech-oriented features such as mobile pin-up screens. In 2019, Gensler’s U.S. Workplace Survey identified the innovation hub as the highest-performing amenity.
- In-app food service and order ahead features. These days, employee convenience is top of mind for office owners and property teams, causing mobile ordering to be pushed to the forefront of these conversations. Providing office employees with a wide array of healthy food options — which can be accessed with ease through their building’s tenant app — makes lunchtime more efficient and seamless.
- Another key trend includes sustainable office features that aim to make spaces as eco-friendly as possible. These include not only Internet of Things (IoT) solutions such as smart thermometers, but also motion-activated lights and other building features that activate when a space is occupied. Some offices even include living walls, which satisfy employees’ clear desire for exposure to greenery while providing additional oxygen and clearing pollutants from the air.
“Do I Need This?”
In today’s world, amenity-heavy office spaces are a necessity to attract and retain tenants — thus making it easy to see why today’s landlords are tempted to include every feature imaginable. Many find themselves striving for the most upscale, contemporary designs possible in hopes of forming a picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy space that will attract in-demand employees.
Visually impressive commercial spaces abound, but they come at a hefty price and may not always be what tenants really want. In fact, modern trends indicate that tenants are most content with practical workspaces that encourage a blend of comfort and productivity.
When determining which features to include, it’s important to consider the needs of an office’s building community. Some tenant companies, for example, may want affordable offices above all else. Others prioritize security or personal comfort, which can be delivered by way of simple, tech-based upgrades that can provide customized experiences throughout the building.
Increasingly, tenants prefer amenities that make their lives easier over those that appear luxurious at the surface level. Integrating building automation can play a powerful role in promoting comfort among employees who can now influence access points, indoor temperature, lighting levels, and other functions in which they previously had little say. Automated systems may also include visitor management solutions that reduce security risks, as well as make it easy to receive packages or safely welcome visitors into offices.
The most simple inclusions are often among the most impactful. For example, a CBRE analysis of a survey conducted by the HR advisory firm Future Workplace suggests that over half of workers regard natural light and views of the outdoors as the most important professional perks. Cafeterias and kitchens, although far from new, also remain effective; CBRE’s report reveals that 37 percent of workers value access to kitchens, while 44 percent favor food service or on-site cafeterias.
Using Data to Make the Best Investments
Some amenities may look great at first glance, but ultimately deliver a limited return on investment. Others are easy and affordable to implement — and they produce huge improvements in both employee well-being and commercial tenant satisfaction.
Detailed insights on a building can help determine which amenities are the most valuable to your tenants, and thus inform future investments for the office. Whether through an amenities-focused tenant survey or leveraging a tenant experience operating system to access data on your building, people, and experiences, there are multiple avenues to collect and take advantage of meaningful data on the workplace.
The race for the coolest office amenities might not be as important as you think. Rather, the best office facilities fulfill employees’ strongest needs: comfort, security, and connection. These essentials can be delivered with help from the right corporate amenities, but it takes careful research and planning on your end to determine what will produce the best workplace possible.