What impact does your office space and, specifically, its design have on employee satisfaction and retention? We asked Cassidy Turley’s Kevin Meissner, who exclusively represents tenants in their search for office space, lease renewals and expansions and evaluating whether or not to buy or lease office property. He guides clients in Southern California through the entire process, from envisioning and financial analysis through site selection, build-out and move-in.
“These companies will do anything to keep their employees as happy as possible,” says Meissner. “The company owners try to make coming to work such a great experience that the employees never want to leave.”
And Meissner should know a thing or two about that, seeing as how his company has been selected as one of the San Diego Business Journal’s 2013 Best Places to Work. But it’s Meissner’s knowledge of the industry that truly allows him to help companies create these dream office spaces to lure the best employees.
“Nowadays, many business owners are looking for non-traditional office space. They’re leaving the high-rise, steel-frame, multi-tenant office buildings behind and choosing low-rise buildings with an open floor plan and as much natural light as they can get,” explains Meissner. Not only have they thrown out the traditional cubicles and offices with windows, they’re adding in a lot of modern features that are sure to attract the best talent.
Meissner takes a client through a process to determine what properties will match their needs, asking them questions about what their business will look like in the next five to 10 years, what type of culture they want to establish and how many employees they have—or want to have. “We get the framework of what they’re really trying to do with their space, and then tailor the space to that as much as we can,” Meissner says. “With larger companies, we’ll engage a design firm or architect early on in the process to help brand their ideal space.” Once the right property is found, Meissner and his Cassidy Turley team go to work, from negotiating the deal right through to construction and installing telephone and data systems so the business can move its employees right in without a productive moment lost. More and more often, out goes the drywall and dropped ceilings and in goes the bullpen, internal conference rooms, gyms and yoga space as well as a kitchen, complete with high-end coffee, dishwasher and meeting area.
The trend doesn’t seem to include cutting down on square footage and encouraging employees to work at home. “It’s less about trying to squeeze as many employees as possible into a smaller space, but more about how well they utilize that space to woo their employees, both existing and potential,” explains Meissner.
Most transaction will have a certain allowance for tenant improvements, which Meissner negotiates to be given to his clients. “The landlord will use those funds for generic tenant improvements,” he says. “But in our hands, our project managers can use that allowance to create something spectacular, to make the space exactly how the client envisions.”
The best part of Meissner’s job? He rarely sends his clients a bill. “All broker commissions are paid for by the landlord, just as the seller pays all broker commissions in residential real estate. That makes it even easier to keep my clients happy.”