Today’s commercial real estate market sometimes seems to be an amenities arms race, with each new building or renovation upping the ante to attract tenants. While we’re big believers in the value of great amenities, we also believe there are other ways to attract tenants. Believe it or not, space planning — far from a simple formality on the path to an offer — is a great way to show early on that you care about the tenant’s success.
In our decades of experience as Minneapolis space planners, we’ve seen how good property managers can transform buildings from a list of amenities to must-have properties. Exceptional service will set your property apart from the competition — above and beyond price and amenities. One way to provide that is by working with a space planner to create something uniquely suited to your prospective tenant’s business goals.
When done correctly, space planning can positively impact your tenant’s workflows, productivity, and recruitment. Asking your tenants these four critical questions will make sure their space plan will also help you sell the space.
1. Where Are They Growing?
It’s often difficult for tenants to know how much space they really need. This is especially true if they expect to be growing over the lease term. We recommend against just using a percentage increase — or even a rough guesstimate based on square feet per employee. Instead, when we work with clients, we try to dial in on who they will be adding over the life of the lease.
Which teams will be growing most? What kinds of officing do they need? And how will those additions affect the entire space needs, including common areas, restrooms, and conference rooms? To help you better estimate your prospective tenant’s space needs, PlanForce has developed an interactive space calculator. It includes a wide variety of industry-standard workspaces, along with calculations such as internal circulation and building R/U factor.
2. What Types of Work Do They Do?
In space planning, we’re focused not on the tenant’s industry per se but on how they use the space. Different tenants do different types of work and different people within companies need different types of workspaces. Moreover most people do several different types of work throughout the day.
From heads down work and project meetings to informal conversations and extended collaborations, the different types of work require different workspaces. As you develop the tenant’s program, work to get a better understanding of this variety. This will ensure your final space plan really meets the tenant’s needs.
3. Who Needs to Sit Where?
It’s not enough to get all of the right types of spaces into your plan. You also need to get them put in the proper places. Which departments work together? Who needs to interact all the time? If the accounting and procurement teams need to meet regularly, you want to make sure they’re next to one another. That’s one of the main benefits of a central office over remote work — people can see each other in person. Make sure your space plan takes advantage of that. Likewise, if marketing and legal teams tend to clash, maybe put them on opposite ends of the office.
4. What About Visitors?
It used to be that the nicest parts of the office were the reception are and the client conference room. The reception desk was big and impressive, and the conference room had one of the best views. The goal was to impress visiting customers, while the employee areas were somewhat… less distinguished. (I know of one company that even had visitor-only restrooms — employee badges wouldn’t let them in.)
Some companies keep up this tradition, but many have shifted gears. These firms put more emphasis on employee common areas that will help to attract and retain top talent. Increasingly, we are seeing the traditional reception area moving to the interior of the office to become an employee lounge. This makes a lot of sense in industries with highly-competitive employment — especially if clients rarely visit.
In contrast, we’re also seeing some surprising companies place greater emphasis on visitors throughout their space. Many firms — especially in manufacturing and medtech — are conducting tours of their space as an integral part of the sales process. For these companies, their space has to tell a story above and beyond who sits where.
Space Planning as a Value-Add
As a commercial real estate professional, you know the value of good space. Location, amenities, and quality service all contribute to the success of tenants and their business. We’ve seen firsthand how space planning can go beyond a formality to actually help close real estate deals. If you’re looking for space planning that will help your buildings — and your service — stand out from the competition, let’s talk.