IFMA: Employers Compensating for Smaller Workspace with More Amenities

Companies are offering employees a wider range of amenities than in years past, according to results from a recent International Facility Management Association study. When compared to similar data from 2004, the most common amenities are still break rooms and coffee bars, but employers are increasingly providing Internet cafés, outdoor recreation areas and employee health facilities as well, according to the report, Benchmarks V: Annual Facility Costs, which IFMA says is its largest benchmarking study to date.

While previous IFMA studies have shown employee workspace size decreasing--middle manager office space, for example, has shrunk from an average of 151 square feet in 1994 to 121 in 2007, a decline of nearly 20 percent--the variety of amenities being offered is on the rise. This increase in employee amenity options could be attributed to companies wanting to attract and retain the best employees while compensating for reduced workspace size, the report concludes.

"As companies reduce personal workspace, employees place greater importance on in-house amenities that simplify and enrich their work day, such as lunch-hour yoga at the company fitness center," said Angie Earlywine, workplace strategist for HOK Advance Strategies. "Employees benefit from feeling refreshed and relaxed as they return to the remainder of their day, and employers benefit from the increase in afternoon productivity."

Headquarter and educational facilities are the most likely to offer the majority of employee amenities, according to the report, and while some amenities are being offered by fewer companies than in 2004, the emergence of new alternatives is pronounced. Multi-purpose space, for example, has become a popular feature, being offered by 35 percent of survey respondents. Other popular amenity options found by the new study include exercise parks, cot rooms, and nursing/lactation areas.

Based on a survey of 1,032 facility professionals from across North America, the new report covers a variety of costs associated with employee amenities. The costs are broken down by industry, facility type, and geographic region. Companies on the West Coast, for example, annually spend an average of 30 cents per square foot to operate and maintain amenities, while those in the Midwest spend only 4 cents.

IFMA annually conducts a benchmarking survey of its members in an effort to collect data that allows for easy comparisons of built environment costs and practices. These reports allow facility professionals to gauge their performance against similar facilities — whether in the same industry or a different one. To learn more about the Benchmarks V: Annual Facility Costs survey results and methodology, or to order a copy of the report, visit www.ifma.org/tools/research/benchmarks_v.cfm.

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