The public perception of what the "boss" wants from office space has little to do with what most CEOs actually look for. While we aren't the CEO of your company, we've worked with enough over the years to know that mahogany paneling, lavish corner suites and the like aren't what makes a space work. Instead, most CEOs want three basic things.
When real estate is your second or third largest cost center, finding office space that matches your company's budgetary priorities is usually your number one concern. Given the number of financially responsible companies that still occupy Class A CBD space in major gateway cities, though, this doesn't mean finding the cheapest space.
Instead, what it means is finding the best pricing for the best space relative to other offerings on the market. Typically, cost-effectiveness also refers to going through a benchmarking process to ensure that each space is running at maximal efficiency with as little waste as possible. More and more CEOs are also turning to strategic green upgrades to both boost employee satisfaction (see number three below for me) and to lower operating costs.
If office space is a place where work gets done, it stands to reason that CEOs want their offices to be places where as much work gets done as possible. The drive to maximize productivity stands behind many of the major shifts in how office space is leased and occupied:
- In the past, workers were expected to commute to offices that were located in convenient locations for companies (usually in central business districts). Now, in an attempt to reduce commuting burdens for workers, companies choose office space that is more convenient to where workers live.
- Open and semi-open floor plans drive higher levels of productivity through enabling easier collaboration.
- Ample glass lines and lighting improve employee health and productivity.
3) Employee Satisfaction and Retention
While the "true" unemployment rate remains a political football, the reality for most CEOs is that highly skilled staff for high value positions is extremely hard to find and expensive to retain. Office space that not only makes workers work harder but also makes them want to come to work -- and keep working in them -- is extremely valuable. As such, the savviest companies look at office space by asking this one key question: If I was this company's most important employee, would this space make me more or less likely to continue working here?
Many of the changes that drive productivity and cost-effectiveness -- like ample lighting, spaces for collaboration and sustainability -- can also drive employee satisfaction. Others include attractive design and generous en-suite amenities. The cost of adding an espresso machine to an otherwise cookie-cutter break room is minimal. It's doubly small when compared to the value of keeping an employee that realizes that having access to in-office latte can easily save him $1,000 dollars per year and keep him inside on a Phoenix summer day or a Minneapolis winter day.
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