Tomorrow's office buildings are going to be different. Designers and architects, as well as construction professionals and property managers in Dakota County, recognize the growing emphasis on building health and the needs of a multi-generational work force.
Amenities are the name of the game for offices of the future, but the expected perks may vary depending on the age of the work force. Millennials are known to love their coffee, while other workers prefer game rooms or multi-purpose break rooms where they can unwind and enjoy a little personal time. Some simply zone out with a video or video game. Older workers, including Baby Boomers not ready to retire, appreciate rooms where they can gather with coworkers to socialize, network, toss around ideas or simply relax. Young executives and overstressed professionals appreciate workout rooms, meditation spaces and nap pods.
Personal health is as vital as building health to offices of the future.
But what exactly does that entail? Aside from a greater emphasis on sustainability, energy-efficiency, air quality and attractive, durable materials, some modern amenities are viewed as creature comforts in the workspace, a means of humanizing the environment and adding therapeutic benefits to the work space. It's a new and emerging science with a holistic approach to what, in millennial terms, is viewed as "work-life balance."
Adaptable space—for both work hours and after-hours use—is one feature that has attracted the attention of business leaders. Options for daycare or after-school activities for teens and part-time employees are new ideas designed to attract future workers. Some companies view sports courts and sponsorship of teen enrichment programs as employee recruiting tools.
The Twin Cities Scene
Popular amenities in downtown Minneapolis office buildings, however, sometimes have more to do with the location and the weather than with employee individuality, and they cut across all age groups. The popularity of urban condos and apartments situated close to downtown work centers has led to some distinctive amenities.
While onsite conference centers and employee collaboration space is high on the list of desirables for urban workers, there are other employee benefits that are cherished in this market. They include:
- Skyway Connectivity: Both summer heat and humidity and inescapable northern winters make existing downtown skyways convenient, even if not actually necessary. They are certainly well-used, much appreciated, and a bonus for downtown office workers. A location with access to the climate-controlled maze of urban walkways is considered a business bonus well worth a higher leasing rate.
- Bike Storage: Even though downtown Minneapolis is relatively compact and reliable mass transit is readily available, urban core dwellers love the convenience of being able to bike to work. Offices that provide secure bicycle parking areas or indoor bike and gear storage provide an extra perk for fitness-oriented employees. Property managers and leasing agents find that bike storage is almost as much a selling point for potential tenants as onsite auto parking.
- Fitness Centers: It's true that employees spend longer hours in the office than ever before. It's also true that keeping fit is as good for the mind as for the body, and that a brief stint with a stationary bike or on the basketball court can be a refreshing break from business stress. Newer office building developers are aware of the need to nourish both body and brain, and are increasingly specifying state-of-the-art employee workout rooms along with health-conscious cafeterias or snack centers on their list of business-oriented amenities.
- Outdoor Space: Another outgrowth of the new holistic philosophy that surrounds the work environment, the need for green is accepted by city planners and architects, the medical and psychological community, and by corporate leaders as a cost-effective and viable way to boost morale and improve employee retention rates. Even if a relaxing, accessible outdoor space is impossible, a pleasant outdoor view can be an acceptable substitute. A growing number of new office buildings, however, include roof decks, indoor landscaped atriums, or private gardens as design features.
- Flex Space: Cubicles are disappearing in favor of open space with or without movable partitions. Comfortable couches, table desks and informal sitting areas can be used for solitary work, networking sessions or small-group meetings. Mobile technology has made personal work-style preferences a viable option for many types of business, and newer office complexes will include at least some flex space in the floor plan.
- Access to Services: As regular office hours in some fields give way to alternative schedules, more employees find the need to sandwich other life activities into their business day. Mixed-use developments, of course, cater to these needs, but other companies provide different kinds of access to varied services, including meal and grocery delivery, complimentary Uber services to run errands, dry-cleaning pickup and delivery, and even mail order and package delivery stations.
The changing world of business is exciting, and smart business owners, as well as commercial property managers and real estate leasing agents, will join forces to respond to new innovations.