In 2020 many offices were vacated as employees worked remotely due to the pandemic. Now in 2021, we’re seeing a return to commercial buildings and with it, a new priority list of amenities. In order to encourage employees to return to the workplace, many offices are looking at ways to make the transition easier and more desirable for their employees.
We spoke to commercial real estate expert Adelaide Polsinelli about how building owners and companies can offer amenities to make the return to the workplace more appealing. Here are six trending building amenities she thinks give commercial real estate a competitive edge:
Due to the pandemic and the ever-spreading Delta variant, employees are still hesitant to take public transportation. For Polsinelli, buildings offering a more customizable transportation option would be one of the most important amenities. “Instead of people needing to take a train or bus every hour on the hour,” says Polsinelli. “I would like to have something like Uber or a custom bus service that’s more predictable,” Polsinelli says a small shuttle would be ideal for many companies, whether it fits five, ten, or 15 people. A small shuttle would also be able to operate on smaller streets in New York City (which are now often filled with sidewalk restaurants) and would be compatible with smaller companies. To Polsinelli, employees would prefer to minimize spending time in enclosed spaces on mass transportation during the pandemic.
2. Medical and Wellness Facilities
There’s probably never been a time when people are more acutely aware of their health than now. That’s why Polsinelli thinks medical and wellness facilities are a must. “It would be great for a building to have a small on-site urgent care,” says Polsinelli. “A place where you can test discreetly or get medicine when you’re feeling under the weather.” She suggests testing should be available for everything from COVID-19 to pregnancy to HIV to any new strain of flu virus, and that testing could be done there confidentially and quickly. The benefit would be that employees would feel more comfortable knowing their health status and that people wouldn’t be running around their city being transmissible. “We’re a lot more accepting of sickness and more cognizant of our health now,” says Polsinelli. “Let’s keep it that way.”
During the pandemic, many parents became educators and full-time caretakers while working full-time jobs. Although it was an extremely hectic time, many adapted and enjoyed being able to spend more time with their kids. Offering childcare within the building offers employees flexibility and provides a middle ground between home life and the office. “Let’s say one day your nanny cancels and you have a big presentation you can’t do via Zoom,” says Polsinelli. “In-building childcare will alleviate the stress of scrambling to find someone else and allows employees to focus on their day.”
As previously mentioned, health is a priority for many employees in 2021 and one way to keep them healthy and happy is by offering an in-building gym. Polsinelli cites Hudson Yards as the gold standard when it comes to building amenities and Hudson Yards, of course, offers a gym in each building. “There’s nothing like getting a quick workout in during the day and it also gives employees a reason to go to the office,” says Polsinelli.
Hand in hand with the gym, buildings can also offer classes to the people that work there. This can be a variety of things and can be things that improve mental acuity or increase safety in life. “Classes like yoga, self-defense, or meditation help with work-life balance or can be useful in everyday situations,” says Polsinelli.
6. Socializing and Dining
The last item on Polsinelli’s list is a private club or dining for employees to meet and dine together. “If I have ten colleagues coming from different buildings, I want to book a private dining room and I don’t want to worry about reservations or the menu,” says Polsinelli. A dining room or social club creates an easy meeting point and is a highly desirable building amenity.