Companies relying more on “cool” offices in their recruiting efforts


by Dan Rafter

What makes an office cool? How about a rooftop deck that provides a stunning view of the city skyline?

And what if that outdoor deck features floor-to-ceiling glass?

That’s the key amenity that helped bring Grand Rapids, Michigan-based law firm Miller Johnson Attorneys to the Arena Place mixed-use development in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

Miller Johnson Attorneys moved into the space in the summer of this year, leasing the building’s top four floors, a total of 60,000 square feet.

Scott Morgan, senior vice president with Colliers West Michigan, said that Miller Johnson has already hosted several receptions and events on the outdoor deck area. The deck, he says, is just one of the many features that attracted the law firm to this space.

“Miller Johnson chose the building because it was brand-new construction and there simply weren’t any other choices for the company in downtown Grand Rapids,” Morgan said. “There were zero opportunities, nothing available that was large enough for the firm.”

And that deck? It did excite the younger partners at the firm, Morgan said.

“The firm has to attract and retain younger attorneys, like all law firms,” Morgan said. “This kind of office space can help with that. The younger attorneys want to work in an office space that is more interesting or exciting. This space provides that.”

The location is key, too. Arena Place sits outside the traditional business strips that law firms in Grand Rapids usually choose. The neighborhood surrounding Arena Place is a bit hipper and trendier, Morgan said.

Another bonus? The interior attorneys’ offices are all the same size. No partners have oversized offices. This creates the feeling that all attorneys at the firm are valued.

“There are no big, fat partner offices here,” Morgan said. “They wanted something that would not be your father’s law office. They wanted to be able to use their office space as a recruiting tool. They think this space can help them do that.”

Miller Johnson, of course, is far from the only law firm, or office user, that is relying on modern office spaces as a recruitment tool. Morgan said that tenants looking for modern office space today want to see that the money in an office building has been spent on reception and common-area amenities.

This means that they want comfortable break rooms, large flat-screen TVs in the lobby, multi-purpose rooms, visually pleasing lunchroom spaces and more work areas spread throughout a building.

“It really is a trend today that developers are spending less money on the interior offices and more on the common areas,” Morgan said. “And it’s a trend that we don’t see slowing anytime soon.”

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