This article was written for our sponsor, JLL.

*Please note: This content was originally written prior to COVID-19. For additional information about how to incorporate employee health and wellness in the workplace during the current environment, refer to the end of this article.

When it comes to office space, sterile lobbies, closed-in cubicles and fluorescent lights are just not cutting it anymore. Employees who spend anywhere from 40 to 50 hours a week at work want to feel inspired and productive in their office environments and companies are taking note.

According to a LinkedIn article, talent professionals say they’re focused on employee retention, increasing employee productivity, meeting the expectations of millennials and Gen Z, and attracting more candidates. The current job market is highly competitive and talent is jumping from job to job at a quicker pace than ever before.

Factors like quality coffee, great lighting and even background music can create a culture and an overall vibe that employees want.

The Raleigh JLL office has a Project and Development Services team that works to create workplace interiors and design spaces for clients that help engage employees and make them more productive in their space.

The PDS process starts with an in-depth conversation about the big picture and what an office space can do for the company in terms of talent attraction, retention and experience. When it comes to real estate, it’s not just about the numbers and what kind of deal JLL can get for clients, it’s about the space itself and having a more thoughtful approach.

A holistic approach involves considerations like how an office space should look and feel, how square footage can be maximized and utilized, what types of amenities should be included in the space, how the company’s office will reflect a brand image and inspire a company culture, and much more. This comprehensive ideology paves the way for a company to be more successful at attracting and keeping talent, and, hopefully, increases employee satisfaction overall.

“There’s a trend right now for clients who want more residential and hospitality-branded spaces,” added Nakira Carter, PDS team lead at JLL Raleigh. “The way people are working, there’s a need for more collaboration spaces, lounge accessibility to things like couches and coffee tables, and break rooms. The simple things that you’d see in hospitality or residential settings are now making their way into workspaces.”

Workspaces that give people flexibility and choice within the office allows them to work the way they want to work which, in turn, fosters a more productive work environment.

Coworking spaces in particular are showing what it means to be highly amenitized — especially in the Triangle. Places like American Underground, WeWork and HQ Raleigh have quality coffee on tap, outdoor lounge spaces, stylish interiors and much more to cater to 21st century workers.

Additionally, it used to be that commercial buildings were intended for a single purpose, catering exclusively to retail tenants or office occupants, however, the surge of multi-use spaces has demonstrated that a building can successfully allow multiple functions. Even hotels are incorporating in-house business centers, meeting spaces, and lounge areas to accommodate the needs and desires of customers.

Another aspect of being holistic is taking into consideration what employees want from the get-go or even before the building process starts. While real estate decisions are mostly made by CEOs and other high-level executives, more companies are engaging their employees in the process instead of saying, “This is what we’re doing, get on board.”

This inclusion, Carter said, can really pay off in an organization when employees feel like they had a hand in creating the office space and culture they’re engrossed in every day.

JLL Raleigh leveraged its own techniques as it built out a plan for its new office space on Creedmoor Road, which the team moved into in January 2020. The office is roughly 40 percent closed and 60 percent open, and features a cafe with three different seating options that can be used for sharing meals, holding impromptu meetings or working away from a desk. Lots of team conversations were had to determine what would go into the new space.

Office highlights include:

  • 13 different collaborative areas, including ones with couches and living room chairs, and others with monitors and standing desks
  • A welcoming moss wall in the café
  • Sonos capability for playing music throughout the office — perfect for casual and team gatherings
  • A good mix of traditional elements that are more budget-friendly and sound proof, as well as homier details like woodwork
JLL Seating Area

JLL’s Raleigh office has 13 different collaborative areas, including ones with couches and living room chairs, and others with monitors and standing desks. (Photo Courtesy of JLL)

JLL Conference Room

JLL Raleigh recently leveraged its own techniques and holistic approach practices as it built out a plan for its new office space on Creedmoor Road. (Photo Courtesy of JLL)

“We looked at what we were developing for our clients and said, we’ve got to do this for us,” Carter said. “Taking a holistic approach to your real estate, especially in this competitive Triangle market, is of the utmost importance.”

Maintaining employee health and wellness in the office amidst a pandemic 

While office workers everywhere have grown accustomed to the new normal of working from home, many professionals have expressed an eagerness to get back into the workplace.

In a recent survey, JLL questioned 3,000 office workers from corporations all over the world. The survey found 58 percent of respondents indicated they missed the office, and 69 percent of respondents from the tech industry indicated they are ready to return.

Younger employees were more likely to express a desire to return, with 65 percent of those under 35 indicating they were ready.

With health and safety in mind, JLL is implementing a holistic approach to workplace re-entry guidelines by examining the process with three key pillars in mind: (re)activate, (re)spect and (re)vitalize.

  • (Re)activate space: addressing how and when people should begin returning the work, as well as how space is structured and used once ready for re-entry.
  • (Re)spect health and wellness: ensuring the safety, security, and health of employees, tenants and visitors.
  • (Re)vitalize property and workplace operations: preparing safe and productive workspaces in adherence to new protocols, as well as government requirements and guidelines.

It’s difficult to say when things will return to normal in the workplace, but there are a number of resources and guides companies can consult in order to prioritize the safety of their employees.

This article was written for our sponsor, JLL.