Manhattan landlords in 2022 are facing the challenge of attracting workers back to the office. In a world where flexibility has become the norm, convincing people that it’s still worth coming to the office is no easy task, especially in a high-density, high-traffic urban center such as Manhattan. These big, crowded cities have lost some of their appeal in the wake of the pandemic due to safety concerns, disrupted public transit, expensive housing, and aging infrastructure. Many people have moved away from big urban cores and embraced new opportunities brought about by remote and hybrid work, leaving behind empty office buildings.
But there are still quite a few tricks up landlords’ sleeves. Over the past couple of years, they’ve taken a cue from multifamily and hospitality owners and have started investing in renovations and modern amenity packages that entice young workers. The office is now becoming a place dedicated not just to work, but also networking, socializing, and even leisure and relaxation.
The challenge of incentivizing young talent
The challenge of bringing people back to the office is much more complex in the post-pandemic, remote-centric world. With so many companies offering remote work opportunities, landlords need to get inventive and keep an open mind if they want to lure workers back to their desks. The office now has to compete with the home office, and that’s a tough competition. So, what can landlords do about it?
It’s all about the target audience, as it were. If employers want to appeal to young workers in the Gen-Z or Millennial generation, they need to provide entertainment and activity in the office. This can include bars, outdoor space, on-site cafes or restaurants, game rooms, fitness centers or yoga spaces, and so on – essentially encouraging socialization and communication with their peers, as well as physical and mental wellbeing.
They also need to incorporate modern technology, such as touchless access, face recognition software, and other ‘smart’ building features, such as lighting and temperature sensors, state-of-the-art HVAC, and energy-efficient amenities. Younger generations are all about technology, sustainability, and wellbeing, so incorporating these three things into the office can make a big difference and give landlords an advantage.
But landlords need to also appeal to workers that find it too distracting to work from home, and who need the office to be a place of concentration, focus, quiet, and productivity. The challenge lies in balancing these two sides and providing both collaboration and entertainment for those who wish it, as well as private spaces for deep, focused, uninterrupted work.
No longer reserved for high-powered Silicon Valley companies and their exclusive campuses, bar/dining areas are popping up in office buildings across Manhattan. With tenant retention and employee satisfaction as direct goals, what better way to entice employees than in-house happy hour and immediately accessible culinary delights?
Office towers like One Vanderbilt and 730 Third Avenue are betting big on the allure of on-site fine dining as an incentive for office workers. Workers at these two office buildings have easy access to catering and dining options. These options focus on convenience and name-brands, with One Vanderbilt providing Michelin Star-level dining. The tower’s rooftop houses Le Pavillon, a luxury restaurant headed by Chef Daniel Boulud that offers exquisite views of Grand Central Station and Midtown Manhattan in a lush setting designed by Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld.
Young workers are often driven to activities and locations because of their potential social media appeal. Pursuing increased reach with their friends and followers on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, they enjoy weekend getaways, dinners, and entire vacations around attractions that they see online, and that have the potential to resonate with their online peers.
Then why not work in an ‘Instagrammable’ office? Locations across NYC are betting big on showstopper features such as rooftop terraces, elevated gardens, and features that just look like they’ve been picked up from an online influencer’s feed.
The Chrysler Building is inviting tenants to its landscaped terrace to enjoy iconic views of Lower Manhattan, while One World Observatory and SUMMIT One Vanderbilt are built as full-on attractions, luring as many people to the office towers as possible.
Integrated Amenities and Name Brands
In an effort to appeal to young, tech-savvy talent, landlords across Manhattan are focusing on delivering Silicon Valley-style, tech-centric amenities to their Class A office buildings. Obviously, the campus mentality found at Google’s or Apple’s headquarters in California is difficult to replicate in overcrowded Midtown or Downtown neighborhoods. Still, landlords and building owners are taking cues from the big tech giants to create a modern office environment where innovation and technology take center stage.
Amenity packages are changing rapidly, becoming significantly more holistic. A solid example is the Chrysler Building’s full-floor amenity level dubbed The Chrysler Club, located on the 27th floor. The Club offers a yoga and meditation room, a conference center and boardroom space, a library and lounge, as well as an open pantry that overlooks the landscaped outdoor terrace at the tower’s setback.
The play is to move traditional New York City office buildings closer to the campus-like approaches that tech companies on the West Coast have popularized. That trend was largely generated by the need to provide a sense of community to the thousands of employees housed in more isolated locations. Now, the same strategy can be used to accelerate the return to the office.
Although companies like Facebook (now Meta), Google and Apple still cultivate that image of having money to burn on amenities, commercial landlords are reckoning that more limited office usage could mean extra available space for amenities. As a result, experiences and amenities provided by trophy office towers are becoming an amenity tier of their own. Some properties can now, more than ever, push their name-brand appeal to potential tenants. In the context of a return-to-office play—think the Empire State Building, One Vanderbilt, or the Hudson Yards buildings and the rebuilt World Trade Center complex.
Are you thinking of setting up your business in a convenient location in Manhattan? Are you looking to lease space in a modern building offering state-of-the-art amenities? To learn about available office or retail space, call Metro Manhattan Office Space at (212) 444-2241 or email us at [email protected]