by Dan Rafter
Picture amenities such as abundant natural light, shower facilities for employees who ride bikes to work and meticulously landscaped outdoor areas designed to make employees’ lunch breaks as soothing as possible.
You’d think these were all features you’d find in a modern office building in the middle of downtown Chicago, right?
Sure, you’ll find these bonuses in such buildings. But increasingly, you’ll also find them in new warehouse facilities.
Frederick Regnery, principal in the Chicago office of Colliers International, said that a growing number of developers are focusing on the importance of providing spacious lunchrooms, designing work areas that are bathed in natural light and reaching for LEED certification.
There’s a reason for this: Industrial clients are increasingly considering amenities when they are making their logistics and transportation decisions.
Yes, warehouses and distribution facilities still have to be located off of major railroad and highway hubs. They still have to sit near dense population centers. But once end users find these ideal locations, they are more often today choosing warehouses that boast the higher-end amenities that entice today’s workers.
Amenities, after all, make it far easier for warehouse users to attract the best of the area labor pool to their industrial facilities.
“The smart companies have done a nice job of branding even warehouse locations as a good place to work,” Regnery said. “Less than 10 years ago, heck, even less than six years ago, the workplace environment and amenities in a warehouse building were not usually part of the conversation. Now you have a lot of thoughtful discussion around the work environment.”
Today, Regnery said, developers are factoring in how natural light can make warehouse employees happier and more productive. They are increasingly striving to attain LEED certification because they know that workers consider green buildings healthier places at which to work.
Warehouse locker rooms and break areas are designed more for comfort today. In the past, these spaces tended to be utilitarian. Today, the lunch rooms in many warehouse buildings would not be out of place in that downtown Chicago office building.
“All of these amenities are entering the conversation,” Regnery said. “It is all driven by the need to be competitive on the labor side. It’s about branding your facility as a good place to work.”