The three most important things in real estate have changed |
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The three most important things in real estate have changed

The pandemic and a focus on work-life balance have changed forever the way that people think about office space. To be successful, commercial developments need to provide a superior experience to end users.

According to traditional wisdom, the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location. While that might once have been true, huge changes in the commercial real estate market in recent years mean that many tenants now want more than just a fantastic office position. “Today, it’s location, quality and amenities that make a successful project,” says Katarzyna Zawodna-Bijoch, Business Unit President of Skanska Commercial Development Europe.


In the latest episode of our Shaping Sustainable Places podcast, we take a look at the big trends in office space and what employers are doing to encourage employees back to shared working spaces. In addition to Katarzyna, we speak with Wendy Feldman Block, who is Executive Managing Director at Savills North America, a leading commercial real estate advisory firm.


The flight to high-end offices


Wendy has been a champion of end-user-centric office design throughout her career at Savills. She says the commercial property market has been transformed by a meeting of major events and trends. A generational disruption in working patterns in the form of remote working has combined with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, pushing demand down. One outcome has been an overabundance of generic office space. However, at the same time, demand is extremely strong for higher-end office space that fully considers and meets the needs of tenants.


Wendy says tenants want flexible, interconnected office spaces that can grow and contract as companies undergo changes. Natural light, biophilic design (that connects people with nature), and sustainability are also key. She says as well as pursuing wellness credentials such as WELL and energy efficiency and design credentials such as LEED, building owners should communicate the tangible benefits that such certifications bring to tenants.


Location, quality and amenities are vital


Katarzyna from Skanska says a great office location is often no longer enough to attract tenants to a commercial development. Modern tenants are equally interested in the quality of the build and the types of amenities available to them.

Katarzyna says modern office workers are typically solving complex problems, and so need superior air quality with filtration humidity to help them think. Healthy offices also need to have natural lighting, superior acoustics and design that brings nature into the workplace in some form. There should be breakout spaces for different activities, such as workshops and meetings. The kitchen should have a range of seating arrangements to cater for those who are highly social and those who might be less so. Fitness centres, green spaces and yoga zones allow people to achieve work-life balance.

According to Katarzyna, companies who invest in such spaces can expect a return on their investment in the form of increased loyalty, productivity and employee satisfaction.

You can tune in, listen and subscribe to the podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.