Mar 31, 2018
Written by: Tara Steinkraus, Duke Realty
This article was written in March 2018 for the 2018 B'Onion Edition Newsletter.
As technology progresses and a workforce accustomed to getting what they want floods the market (i.e. millennials), landlords are doing everything they can to accommodate. While some of the amenities I can get on board with, some seem to come at an exorbitant price and could be considered distractions for workers. For example, most Class A office buildings already have a fitness center to help workers lead healthier and more productive lives; but a few buildings have begun the trend of updating those fitness centers to include amenities such as a swimming pool equipped with a swim-up bar and bathtubs filled with champagne in the locker rooms. Says one tenant, "The bubbles from the champagne help to exfoliate my skin and makes for a refreshing beverage to help me de-stress and hydrate after working out." most of these updated fitness centers have had to add employees to help keep up with the added requests. For instance, people born after 1985 have begun to demand certificates of completion after every workout. Says one fitness center user, "It really helps boost my self-esteem." For buildings without space for an onsite fitness center, a workout concierge is being provided. The concierge is great for individuals who have a hard time motivating themselves to do research about where to workout.
Landlords are also going as far as updating their HVAC systems to include customized aromatherapy delivered to individual offices/cubes to provide a subtle array of mood-enhancing aromas. For example, if you've just finished with a stressful meeting, you can use the building aromatherapy app to have a delicate lavender scent delivered to your workspace to help you relax. Or if you're feeling nauseous and have a headache (maybe you had one too many cocktails at the swim-up bar), you can order a spritz of ginger to help relieve your illness.
The HVAC system isn't the only building system that's getting upgraded. While LED lighting was the lighting trend of the past, the new trend is ultraviolet lighting. Employees are going to more and more happy hours which studies have shown have a direct correlation with headaches and nausea the following day. A lot of employees don't see these mysterious next-day illnesses as being related to happy hours and have become increasingly more germaphobic. This has caused landlords to respond to their concerns by upgrading the lighting systems to an ultraviolet system that aids in sterilizing harmful airborne microbes and irritants. While the lighting won't actually help alcohol-induced illnesses, tenants feel better knowing that they're working in a sterile environment. And for an added bonus, tenants can request to have their ultraviolet lights emit UVA/UVB rays to receive a year-round tan.
Another popular amenity trend has many buildings now offering services such as personal chefs to make breakfasts and lunches for employees. Through interviews, I've learned that most employees are using this service to re-heat already cooked food (think Pop-Tarts, Lean Cuisines and Hot Pockets) but it's still proving to be one of the most popular amenity trends. The service comes complete with a coffee sommelier to help choose the perfect brew to go with the meal. Of course, all coffee is guaranteed to come from fair-trade, organic farms.
And lastly, we can't forget our four-legged, furry friends. Landlords and employers have been adding pet daycares and groomers to their list of building amenities for the last several years, but have recently brought in pet spas and personal shoppers. Tenants can schedule a day of beauty and relaxation that includes pet massages, manicures/pedicures and a personal shopper to help pick out sweaters, booties, collars and leashes. One landlord is quoted as saying, "Many people take better care of their pets than they do their husbands/wives and children. Adding an amenity that's pet-focused is a no-brainer."
It's an increasingly competitive world out there and landlords are doing whatever they can to attract companies to their buildings. Time will tell whether or not these excessive amenities will pay for themselves and keep buildings occupied.