Imagine walking into your office building in the morning and
instead of using a badge to head in, you breeze through security
thanks to facial recognition technology. You zip up the elevator
to the amenities floor where you can take a yoga class and grab a
shower in a marble bathroom before heading to the office for
During lunch you head down to the health foods expo in the
lobby and after work you grab a drink during an all-employee
building event on the terrace.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. This is fast becoming the
reality of what a day-in-the-life can and does look like for many
office occupants across the country.
What were once considered quirky perks reserved for Silicon
Valley startups are now routinely making their way into large office
buildings in central business districts where cubicles and wood-paneled corner offices once reigned. Not only are access to amenities proliferating, employees now have an experience that goes
along with it.
The ability to manage that experience is the next evolution of
the property management business: experience management.
What could possibly be the return on investment for offering an
experience management service? Asset managers are paid to
monitor costs of their buildings down to the penny, and this could
seem like just an extra cost.
The answer is that just like the amenity wars that have put those
gyms and terraces into office buildings, the ability to manage the
experience of those amenities wins talent and tenants.
Winning talent with moments of delight
As demographics continue to shift, companies are realizing
the value of fully-amenitized office space as another attractor to
top talent as they compete in the battle for talent in a tight labor
An organization’s physical workplace tells employees and candidates a lot about how it values openness, collaboration, well-being
and sustainability, among other things. In fact, a growing field of
research indicates that the physical workplace is a critical asset in a
company’s ability to attract and retain top talent.
Millennials, now the largest cohort in the workforce, and their
predecessors in Generation Z, value experience. Providing those
experiences in the workplace can determine where they want to
Dr. Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research for JLL
Corporate Solutions, describes this phenomenon best:
“A workplace that is powered by the human experience goes
beyond a work-life balance. It drives how people feel about their
place of work. How empowered, engaged and fulfilled they are, it’s
the purposeful fusion of life and work based on authentic human
These experiences can be as small as a flawless entry system or as
large as an organized employee engagement event, but they all
inspire moments of delight that keep current or potential employ-
Showing tenants love leads to leasing
Just like the workforce, corporate tenants have more choices
today than at nearly any time in the past. According to the latest
JLL U.S. Office Outlook, there is more than 110.4 million square
feet of office space under construction, which could help tip the
scales to a more tenant-friendly market.
Owners are courting those tenants in the same way those tenants are recruiting talent – with product that differentiates itself
in every way possible, including by offering experiences. One
real world example of how experience management is drawing
tenants is the new Cloud Level on the 70th floor of Chicago’s
What was once office space is now a fully staffed 34,000-square-
foot amenity floor that includes a 16,000-square-foot fitness center with spacious, luxury locker rooms, a club-like tenant lounge
and a plethora of conference spaces for tenants to choose from.
Designed by Gary Lee Partners, the Cloud Level opened as
Chicago’s highest office amenity space with unbelievable views of
the city, lake and park, and compliments the building’s newly
“The Aon Center is an iconic building in Chicago’s skyline,
and we’re ensuring it keeps that status with high-end improve-
ments throughout the building, including a renovated lobby and
the new Cloud Level,” said Mark Karasick, Managing Partner at
Aon Center owner 601W Cos. “It’s about giving tenants the peace
of mind that they will have everything they need right there in
The Aon Center is nearly fully-leased to credit tenants, in no
small part thanks to the building’s beautiful amenities.
Experience will be table stakes
Basic functions of property management aren’t going away
anytime soon. Keeping the lights on, the HVAC running effi-
ciently and ensuring your building is up to code will always be
But the ability to be able to provide an amenities and programming that appeals to an experience-driven workforce and the companies that are recruiting them will become just as important as
those basic functions.
Mark Zettl is the president of JLL Property Management. The views
expressed here are the author’s own and not that of ALM’s Real Estate
Why Experience is the Next Big Office Amenity
THE NEW ECONOMY
By Mark Zettl