By Ryan Evanich, Vice President of Office Agency Leasing
This article first appeared in D Magazine’s CRE Opinion section and was written in the Fall of 2022.
Businesses face many challenges, from attracting and retaining top talent to getting teams back into the office. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to either, one crucial aspect that companies often overlook is the significant role real estate plays when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent. In fact, real estate is one of the many reasons countless companies have relocated to Texas over the past decade. Business-friendly policies, low taxes, and an affordable cost of living have caused cities such as Dallas to grow in appeal, providing the perfect opportunity for personal and professional growth.
This pre-pandemic growth resulted in developers building office buildings as quickly, and often as cheaply, as possible. Then COVID-19 happened, everyone was sent home, and some companies or teams discovered that a work from home business model suited them. Others struggled keeping employees engaged, focused, and well trained as they tried to make work from home successful. Parallel to these companies working to bring their employees back to the office we entered a new and very different development cycle.
As we enter this development cycle, I believe Dallas can continue to cater to today’s workforce and integrate into local community simply by capturing what the market wants. Experiences.
Millennials, who currently make up 35 percent of today’s work force (and will make up 75 percent by 2030), want something more than an 8-5 workday. They are longing for experiences that are enriching, both in and outside of the office. Unfortunately, many of today’s office buildings simply don’t deliver, creating a less-than-enthusiastic “in-office” workforce. So, what does that mean for the future of the office? Well, for existing buildings, that means adapt or be left in the dust.
Numerous landlords have already begun radically transforming existing buildings to include retail, or expanded amenities, or, in some cases, converting functionally obsolete office space to multi-family housing.
For example, Trammell Crow Center in downtown Dallas. Originally constructed in 1982, the user experience was once underwhelming, and the building struggled to attract tenants. However, under JP Morgan, Trammell Crow Center underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar renovation, which included new restaurants, an upgraded fitness and conference center, and an impressive lobby renovation with curated artwork. This resulted in a tenant experience unlike any other in the Dallas’ Arts District and, in turn, a building bustling with workers.
In addition to revitalizing existing buildings, developers are embracing new and interesting office concepts that give users a more experiential office environment as they build new construction.
Over Thanksgiving break I had the opportunity to take my wife and kids to the marketing center for The QUAD, a new 345,000-square-foot office development Stream Realty Partners broke ground on in March of this year. While my kids oohed and aahed at the excavators and cranes, I gave my wife the 60-second elevator pitch on the building, sharing about the traditional Class-A amenities we are incorporating, as well as the never-before-seen, touchless features all connected to your phone’s Bluetooth. From restaurants with various food and beverage options to the largest indoor installation of digital art in the state of Texas – she was quite impressed, to say the least.
Dallas offices designed for tomorrow can provide the experiences workers want today. Whether it be floating staircases, sky lobbies, or living greenspaces, when buildings deliver experiences that enhance and inspire, they attract the best tenants and, in turn, the best talent, creating an environment that is ripe for collaboration, and ultimately, success.