Questions and answers: equipment that ushers in the new era of office work

NEW YORK CITY—This past Labor Day marked a turning point in back-to-office change, as many companies rolled out policies to get workers back into the office. For the first time in a long time, commuter trains from New Jersey to New York had standing room only and the key to a smooth transition from remote work to centralized office spaces, KBS source says , could depend on creating an exciting and energizing environment. place of use for workers.

Tim Helgeson, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Asset Management at KBS, spoke exclusively with about how landlords can make the RTO transition more attractive to tenants by providing workspaces that meet the changing expectations of today’s workforce. What amenities really inspire employees/ignite a passion to return to the office? How have requested features evolved over the past few years, now that most professionals have experienced some degree of working both in the office and remotely?

Tim Helgeson: The right office equipment can play an important role in encouraging employees to return to work in the new normal. Interior space configurations that can be used for collaboration and mixing provide a balance between fully remote and in-person arrangements. Employees can comfortably transition from working in groups to taking customer calls in distraction-free office spaces.

The office space which opens onto the exterior is particularly attractive; outdoor amenities such as patios and courtyards are growing in popularity. For example, last year we completed a multi-million dollar renovation at Accenture Tower in Chicago, Illinois that includes a contemporary tenant lounge with a terrace that brings the outdoors inside with a garden and two fireplaces. These features provide a change of scenery from indoor workspaces while allowing team members to stay onsite for focused work, phone calls, and meetings. Additionally, outdoor spaces provide health and wellness benefits, including social distancing, exposure to natural light, a connection to nature, and relaxation areas for work breaks. Are there any desktop features that are either overhyped or not as attractive as they were before the pandemic?

Helgeson: After working from home — where their careers and personal lives were often uncomfortably linked — employees want to carve out multiple areas of the office where they can either work alone, collaborate with teammates, or socialize during the workday. Camaraderie is what many remote workers have missed most during the pandemic. Providing the ability to foster these relationships will help bring teams back to the workplace successfully.

An even more popular feature today than it was before the pandemic is strong, fast internet connectivity and access to the latest technology, and it’s one of the reasons our company pursues WiredScore status. for so many of our office buildings. How do office owners and tenants make effective changes to their spaces at varying budgets? What are the examples?

Helgeson: We’ve found the spec suites to be a great example of how office owners can implement cost-effective equipment in the workplace. Landlords can implement the most requested building features that can boost rental activity and retention levels in specific markets. By providing these amenities in turnkey office spaces, tenants reduce their own development costs. In most spec suites, KBS doesn’t just renovate the space the company invests in innovative furniture systems that can be reconfigured as tenants progress through their return-to-office process after the pandemic. Do effective features and amenities vary by geographic market, type of office, and tenant industries?

Helgeson: We have observed that some tenants in industry are looking for more suitable accommodations than others. For example, a technology-based company with a hybrid work schedule is more likely to be attracted to open, collaborative office spaces that allow employees to meet easily, whether onsite or remotely. This type of space is also ideal for any company that is actively recruiting Millennials and Gen Z workers, as these two generations have different approaches to work than previous generations, such as priority to health and well-being at work and the desire for flexible working hours. When it comes to tenant industries, law firms and financial firms will look for office buildings that have separate spaces to facilitate privacy and confidentiality with their clients.

It’s equally important for office owners and operators to consider market-specific amenities, such as bike storage in cities where active commuters are prevalent or electric vehicle charging stations in markets where workers are more likely to drive electric vehicles.

Jose C. Birney