Measuring Quality of Life in Office Space

Winter 2013

For the corporate space user, lease transactions used to be all about the numbers, with a strong focus on the bottom line. Today, things are different, said Peter Holland, director of benchmarking services for CoreNet, who moderated a session at Development ‘13 titled “Let’s Measure the Quality of Life per Square Foot.”

“Corporate real estate is now focused internally,” he continued. Corporate users “are thinking about how the real estate contributes to the success of the organization — retention, recruiting of staff. It is about securing the right labor today.”

two speakers at a conference session

two speakers at a conference session

Peter Holland and Debra Dailey (top photo) and Sven Govars (bottom photo) discuss how corporate executives are thinking — and making decisions — about their office space needs in new and different ways.

Debra Dailey, vice president, workplace experience strategy, corporate services for Sodexo, noted that this is about maximizing the value of a square foot of space, not simply measuring the cost per square foot. What is more important than cost, she noted, is how quality of life affects productivity.

Sven Govaars, consulting regional leader for Gensler, said that labor accounts for about 80 percent of company costs and that the money spent on employees will far outweigh anything spent on space over time.

“[This year we began] talking about the idea of fracturing the notion of workplace so that we really focus on what the work is, what the place is and what the people do,” he said, “where they focus, where they collaborate, where they learn and where they socialize. We are finding that the introduction of restorative environments and play are becoming huge components of these discussions.” (For more on Gensler’s work in this area, see “Effective Workplaces Survey,” in the Fall issue of Development.)

In addition, Govaars noted, corporate users are trying to better understand the four generations in the workforce today — and a fifth that will be entering it in another five to seven years. At this point, little is known about that next generation, but it too will have to be accommodated in the workplace in the near future.