by Dan Rafter
What are the top companies looking for in new office space? Amenities that promote healthy living, everything from on-site fitness centers that are more than a treadmill in a closet to social areas that encourage workers to move away from their computer screens.
Ron Bockstahler, chief executive officer of Chicago’s Amata Office Centers, said that tenants today expect higher-end amenities, a change from years past. In Chicago, one of the most important amenities? Bike storage. Workers who want to bike to work don’t want to have to lug their bikes to their cubicles.
“No one even brought those up eight years ago,” Bockstahler said. “Today, building owners lead with these amenities.”
This is part of a larger trend, Bockstahler said. Companies today are offering office buildings that come with their own healthy-living amenities.
These amenities are important as people learn just how unhealthy it can be to spend all day sitting in front of a computer.
“We are an overweight culture,” Bockstahler said. “We want to live healthier lives. We want options that allow us to be healthier when we are at work. They want to ride their bikes. They want to stay active. They don’t want to work 2,500 hours a year. This trend is pushing companies as they look for office space. Companies want to provide a healthier environment for their workers.”
Some building owners might balk at adding these amenities. Doing so isn’t free, after all. But Bockstahler says that not adding higher-end amenities will cost these building owners in the long run.
“Having these amenities is a huge benefit,” Bockstahler said. “Many of the building owners who don’t have these amenities won’t attract the type of tenants they want for their buildings. It doesn’t matter if you have an A, B or C building, you have to put in a gym, you have to include bike storage.”
Bockstahler points to 150 N. Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. For years, that office buiding lacked any high-end amenities. It was a basic office property.
That has changed today. Today, the building boasts a coffee shop, bike storage and larger meeting areas.
“For years, that building got by with no amenities at all,” Bockstahler said. “Today we are seeing a huge change there. The owners are definitely offering a better facility today. They’ve put a lot of money in that building. There are plenty of other owners out there doing the same thing.”
Companies that want to attract today’s younger workers? They are turning to buildings, like 150 N. Michigan Avenue, that do offer coffee shops, social areas and other amenities, Bockstahler said.
“If you want to get the Millennials, and they are a key group today for companies, then you have to offer a work environment that is attractive to them,” Bockstahler said. “Millennials expect nicer working spaces, especially if they are working in the center of a big downtown. If companies can’t offer those amenities, they’ll struggle to attract those younger workers.”