Commercial Real Estate

CRE Opinion: Real Estate and Psychology? Please Have a Seat on My Couch.

You may want to familiarize yourself with the term ‘biophilia’—it can translate to a huge benefit to a company’s bottom line.

Torrey Littlejohn of JLL

In dynamic economies like North Texas, having access to the right labor while controlling human capital cost has become increasingly important. More and more companies are choosing North Texas as their new corporate homes and the fight for talent is becoming fierce. Employees have growing options and competing employers are striving to create enticing “utopic” workspaces. In the end, the companies that have figured out how to attract and retain the right talent while managing human capital costs will win.

Over the past few years, real estate advisors have noticed human resources departments having an increased amount of input on real estate decisions. Companies can no longer separate the correlation or impact one has on the other. Although real estate costs are typically much lower than human capital costs, companies have learned that they can leverage real estate to increase productivity and decrease human capital costs.

From an HR perspective, real estate advisors are now charged with not just finding the right four walls within a budget—we are charged with finding the best location and build out to optimize productivity and employee satisfaction. Companies need help securing space that makes their employees feel good about themselves and their jobs. A successful commercial real estate advisor must now be well versed with market knowledge, demographics, labor analytics, and psychology to achieve this. Yes, psychology!

For example, in the past 12 months, I have used the word “biophilia” more than I can count. What the heck is biophilia? Biophilia is a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature. Simply put, people like to be close to nature.

In a recent regional headquarters transaction, my client’s human resources team strongly expressed beliefs that views of a lake, hike/bike trails, trees, and green space will create a more attractive and inviting workspace. This belief is supported by research from the World Green Building Council that shows access to outdoor space and a connection to nature is a natural stress reliever for employees. Better views have been connected to an 8 to 15 percent increased productivity. This can translate to a huge benefit to the bottom line for a company spending millions on human capital. And biophilia is only one of the many design and location aspects that can increase productivity in the workplace.

Understanding the correlation of the right four walls, in the right location, with the right environment, and accessing the right labor is key. So, if you don’t know what biophilia is I suggest you learn and/or surround yourself with people who do. I think I’m changing my title. My name is Torrey Littlejohn, I am a Human Capital Advisor for JLL; my medium is real estate. Or you can just call me a biophiliac.

Torrey Littlejohn is a senior vice president at JLL.


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