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New Generation Of Office Tenants Prefers A Flexible Office Environment

The office landscape has changed.

Gone are the days of sitting for hours behind a line of desks and in compartmentalized cubicles in front of bulky computers. 

Openpath's James Segil, Rising Realty Partners' Kayce Hawk, CBRE's Scott Steuber and Brookfield Property Partners' Marin Turney

Workers want more natural light, interaction and collaboration with colleagues, to have the ability to work outside and have access to other amenities in or around the office building, panelists said at Bisnow's Los Angeles Office: Workplace of the Future event Wednesday at the Convene coworking space at the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Tenants and workers today want a workplace environment that can be flexible, Brookfield Property Partners Director of Leasing Marin Turney said.

“So you can be productive in your office space and within the walls of your office or you can move anywhere throughout the property and achieve that same level of productivity,” Turney said. “The goal is for employees to have a more efficient use of their time so they can be more productive.”

“I know for me, I sit outside. I sit in the lobby. I visit our other offices that we have downtown," Rising Realty Partners Senior Vice President of Property Services Kayce Hawk said. “I am more productive when I am able to go to a variety of places.”

More than 170 people attended Wednesday’s event where panelists discussed the future of coworking, the fate of suburban office products and office development trends in the marketplace.

Attendees listen to Downtown Center Business Improvement District’s Elan Shore give opening remarks at Bisnow's Los Angeles Office: Workplace of the Future event at Convene in Los Angeles.

Office building amenities are no longer just a gym and a small quick-serve café. These days, Class-A office landlords are working hard and shelling out big bucks to fully amenitize their buildings with several different types of offerings to attract a new generation of tenants and their employees. It is a trend that is picking up, especially in big cities nationwide.

For example, Turney said, Brookfield is undergoing a $60M renovation of the Wells Fargo Center to create an indoor-outdoor campus. Dubbed Halo, the area will feature a courtyard, a lounge, a fitness center, concierge service, restaurants and shops. WiFi will be available throughout so workers can seamlessly work anywhere inside and outside the building, she said.

CBRE Senior Vice President Scott Steuber, who has worked in office leasing since 2004, said the corporate office landscape and workers “have changed more ways than we have time to discuss.”

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the nonprofit group Mental Health America and the Faas Foundation, 71% of employees are looking for a new job. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they were stressed out.

“It is no longer necessarily a badge of pride to work 100 or 120 hours a week and burn out and not spend time with your family,” Steuber said. “You may look like a hero in your office but you are really a zombie and hate your job. 

Steuber said with the rise of an economic bull market, companies are now investing in studies to provide a better workplace.

Attendees network at Bisnow's Los Angeles Office: Workplace of the Future event at Convene in downtown Los Angeles.

“Companies are attempting to personalize their spaces ... for two key reasons: to compete better for talent and retain talent, and provide an environment to allow their employees to be as productive and engaged as possible,” Steuber said after the event.

Steuber said there is no one general solution for what companies are looking for in an office space. He advises his clients to be mindful of what amenities they want to offer to their employees to maximize their production. 

“What amenities do they really, truly need in order for them to be as engaged as possible?” he said, adding that it varies by the worker personality types, responsibilities and more.

But with all these changes and investment in amenities, the bigger question is who will pay?

Some amenities are not cheap. Some will require more staffing and costs.

In Brookfield’s case, Turney said, Brookfield will pay for the bulk of the initial investment. 

“But the expectation is once you make an investment like that you are going to be increasing rent at some point in the future. You are creating a better environment and at some point the tenant will start paying for it as well,” she said. 

Turney said the hope is to secure better tenants who are willing to shell out a rent premium for these amenities and services. 

“Ultimately, it is going to be both landlord and tenant,” she said. “The bulk is landlord but the expenses need to be recaptured.”

Check out a slideshow of the Los Angeles office event here:

 Bisnow's Los Angeles Office: Workplace Of The Future