‘There Is No More Room for Generic Work Environments’

People wearing masks in a meeting room

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As COVID-19 numbers fall, more offices are setting timelines to bring their employees back to the office. But they’re realizing it may take a lot of convincing to get workers to leave their comfy home offices to come back into the office. They’re increasingly taking on remodels to attract employees back, adding amenities such as outdoor terraces, private gyms, green spaces, lounge areas, and flexible conference centers.

“There is no more room for generic work environments,” Laurent Lisimachio, principal and design director at Gensler, told the New York Post. “You are competing with someone’s living room so commercial real estate has to be the site of incredible experiences.”

Companies are taking on several renovations, like efforts to improve buildings’ air quality to make their employees feel safer and offering additional space so workers won’t feel cramped.

They’re also using the retrofits of a building to make their brand stand out. “The physical space serves as a beacon for the brand,” David Goldstein, vice chairman and director of Savills, told the New York Post.

“Companies want places that their employees and staff and partners want to come to, and shows them off as a company, and shows that they are at the forefront of their industry,” says Gregg Cohen, principal of Cresa, a commercial real estate firm.

Triangle Associates has earmarked $350 million to remodel a former prewar textile building in New York City into a 700,000-square-foot structure of modern offices and retail spaces. The remodeled building will have a plant-filled lobby and café, a two-story arched glass penthouse, and 1,100 new windows to add more light. Nuveen, an investment arm of TIAA, is revamping its space to devote the entire second floor to a food hall and fitness center. It also will feature a 7,000-square-foot outdoor terrace with pergolas.