Don’t let a Baby Boomer Make a Real Estate Decision!

June 2011
T3 Advisors

This was by far one of my favorite quotes from yesterday’s NAIOP’s Corporate Trends and Bold Moves event.  Panelists included:

Framing the talk around some really intriguing statistics on how our society has changed in the last few decades  Marty talked about how the new “MIllennials” in the workforce (employees aged 19-29 today) have vastly different working styles, ways of thinking, and care about different things than the generations before them.  See how “Millennial” you are by taking this quiz (I scored a 97, hint having a tattoo and random piercings helps your score…)

This context of the new generation framed Marc’s discussion around how to plan and design real estate for the new generation (s) in our workplace.  The key questions to think about are as follows:

  • What are the demographics? Millennials do NOT want to drive to work, how do you find a location that meets needs of public transit or embraces a mobile worker platform?
  • What are the acoustics? Twenty years ago architects worked to reduce sound, now designers have to plan to have a “sense of interest”, and literally creating a buzz that makes collaborative discussion comfortable but not intrusive
  • Work + Play: Corporate environments need BOTH, people can work anywhere, but why do they come into the office?
  • Sustainability: This trend is increasingly important for Millennials and can have a significant impact on how corporate real estate decisions are made.

Corporate real estate that effectively managed the generational transition into their facilities shared these common themes:

  1. Reception Area: a place to “Create the Experience” and emphasize the company brand
  2. Individual Benching and Neighborhoods with a 1.3 / 1 (1.3 employees to every 1 “seat”) and 165 SF per employee; this most effectively utilizes vacant space while accommodating different groups.
  3. Collaborative Environments: a place where people can go and want to go to share ideas, thoughts, etc.
  4. Town Common: provide the employees a “reason to come to work”

Janet talked about how Dassault went from an R&D company to more of a sales and marketing company and thus chose a location along Waltham’s 128 Corridor as their corporate HQ to increase their brand awareness even though they asked their employees to endure longer commutes.  In return they are planning for shuttle buses with wifi to / from major commuter rails.

Ultimately, place still matters and even though you can work anywhere, companies are thinking a lot about how to encourage collaborative productivity and provide their employees a place to thrive.  The new theme of corporate real estate today at Marty put it: “Home is where you work, work is where you socialize”!