That question received answers from several perspectives at last month’s Every Building Conference & Expo, the annual event presented by BUILDINGS and BOMA International.
Unfortunately, large amounts of new space are not among the things that tenants are looking for. In his address on the state of the industry, BOMA President and COO Henry Chamberlain acknowledged that the industry’s recovery is gradual. Nevertheless, tenants in multitenant buildings are frequently staying in their spaces while repurposing and reconfiguring to accommodate new technology, wireless sensors, and green goals. Chamberlain also noted that the milennial generation's preference for casual team spaces are driving more open floor plans.
The topic of millennials was also taken up by a panel led by Robert Peck, Gensler's director of workplace solutions and former commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service. Panelists agreed that, compared to boomers, millennials put a higher value on daylight and space and a relaxed environment that is unlike staid, traditional office space. The new generation is looking for more than a place to come and work in isolation.
Also discussed at the conference were the results of the 2013 Global Tenant Survey, which probed office tenants in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. To no one’s surprise, high degrees of service and communication have a high correlation with tenant satisfaction. But the survey also found that health/hygiene features (flu shots, hand sanitizers, bike racks, etc.) were highly correlated with tenant satisfaction. However, respondents gave a comparatively low satisfaction rating to these features, which suggests that facility managers have an opportunity to increase occupant satisfaction by expanding health-related amenities. The survey also found that U.S. tenants are more likely to value the prestige of their building whereas Canadian tenants value green features and access to public transportation.
The results of the latest Experience Exchange Report were released at the conference. The report’s benchmarking data covers the office building industry across North America. Stats from the 2013 EER provide unambiguous support for the value of facilities management. Private-sector office buildings reported a 9% decrease in utility costs and a 3.9% decrease in total operating expenses for 2012. The researchers conclude that dwindling income streams – including a 2.9% decline in rental income in 2012 – are refocusing attention on building efficiency.
And efficiency is the specialty of facility managers.