Why You Can't Ignore Creative Office
Want to attract employees? That's what converting to creative office is all about, Allied Properties’ Tom Burns told over 200 at Bisnow’s Creative Office Summit.
“The tenants are chasing the talent, and urban has lots of legs,” Tom tells said. He’s not so sure about suburban space. “All the young people want to live in downtown Toronto; they don’t want to get in a car and drive to Markham or Mississauga to work.” (Are we sure the problem isn't just bad radios?) Being closer to talent is a major trend when it comes to creative office—in addition to high ceilings, open collaborative space, larger floorplates, and, yes, even great views. Pictured: Hullmark VP Aly Damji, Robert Eisenberg, and Rodney McDonald.
Aly says Hullmark benefits from tenants "that want to showcase their space as part of their corporate culture." Toronto Carpet Factory and 60 Atlantic Ave in Toronto’s downtown west are examples of that. Colliers’ John Arnoldi says Mindsets are changing. Twenty years ago decisions on office space came down to where the CEO wanted to be. No more. “The Millennials won’t relocate for a job. They will go where they want to live, then find a job,” John says. Snapped is our first panel: Tom, John Arnoldi, Oxford’s John Peets, Aly, York Heritage Properties’ Robert Eisenberg, and moderator Rodney McDonald of Avison Young.
For John, the advantages in creative office are being captured in newer projects like Oxford’s new RBC WaterPark Place. Open, collaborative space driven by technology is all well and good, but companies still need private areas for people to work in silence. (Not everyone is as excited to hear the Jason Mraz album as you are. Shocking, right?)
People need to take off the blinders when talking about creative office being the domain of older, brick and beam spaces, John says. There are vertical campuses in towers, more creative, broad open spaces. York’s portfolio features brick and beam, especially in places like Liberty Village. While acknowledging that there are fewer older buildings that can allow the kind of controls and larger floorplates that many companies need as they mature, Robert says they tend to go into towers because there isn’t a viable alternative: “If there was, they’d grab it.”
Our second panel featured tenants talking about what they look for. Google Canada’s Andrea Janus, who oversees the company’s Kitchener, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto (111 Richmond St W) offices, says their objective is to “focus on the user and create a space where they can work at any time and in any way.” Location and flexibility moves the needle for them—being able to work with landlords and create the type of space they need as they grow. The panel: iQ office co-founder Kane Wilmott, Ashlar Urban’s Michael Scace, Andrea, BrightLane’s George Horhota, Konrad Group's Georgie Konrad, Gilliam Group's Marcus Gillam.
Kane says people want to go to work and get inspired. “You need to create energy, versus going to the office and closing the door and getting to work,” he says. George says not to underestimate outdoor spaces like terraces: “These are factors tenants are increasingly looking for; it helps make people more productive.” (You don't have to leave work early for the airport if you can just hop on the plane from your terrace.) Google has an outdoor mini putt, where employees collaborate—a different way of looking at space, Andrea says. “There is a purpose behind everything we put in the space.”