At the 13-building, 6M SF Rockefeller Center, office tenants are being offered a suite of services through their landlord, Tishman Speyer, in a new program called "Zo."
Large amenity packages are nothing new for commercial real estate. Fitness centers, bike storage facilities, tenant lounges; these are now standard if a tenant is hunting for Class-A office space. But Zo, Tishman Speyer senior managing director Michael Spies said, is not about checking off boxes on a list of amenities.
Tishman partnered with Savory to offer workers at Rock Center meal delivery to their desks. It has partnered with tech repair firms to offer hardware repairs and solutions. It brought in GLAMSQUAD to provide blowouts and manicures on location.
"This really is different," Spies said. "I’m not sure the word amenity does justice to this. In the real estate vocabulary, these are amenities. From a tenant standpoint, these are strategic services for their human capital."
"Zo" is derived from the Greek word for life, "zoe," and is a reference to being "in the zone," according to Tishman Speyer.
Spies, who chairs Tishman Speyer's investment committee and oversees its operations in Europe and Mexico, said the idea for Zo began in 2015, and since then, the firm has been conducting surveys and focus groups to determine which services would do the most to boost worker productivity.
The research showed workers feel most productive when they have "a sense of having a work/life balance [so] one should do everything possible to help people maintain some connection to that notion," Spies said.
While that means fast meal delivery and beauty services on demand, it also means emergency child care, nurse practitioners on call for healthcare services, organizing community days around the city, and bringing yoga and wellness classes into a tenant's office space.
Big companies can, and do, have many of these perks for their employees; Zo is intended to use the density of the building to give smaller businesses a chance to offer the same services as a Google or Goldman Sachs. That was the challenge with Bright Horizons, the company providing Zo emergency day care services.
"This model was one that they had not worked with," Spies said, requiring Bright Horizons to "figure out a way to make it accessible to small companies that didn’t have the level of demand on their own ... Each one of these services represents a pivot for many of these companies."
Rockefeller Center is the birthplace of Zo, but the fledgling services package will spread its wings from there. Spies said Tishman expects to roll it out to all of its New York City properties this year. The company will conduct research into its other markets, including Washington, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, London, Shanghai and Frankfurt.
"The issue of scale is a great question," Spies said. But Zo will look different in every city, in all likelihood. "It’s the individual, cultural aspects to this that also drive it. The impatience of a New Yorker is not matched anywhere."
While the holistic nature of the suite of services is unique, for now, among commercial real estate companies, Spies said it was inspired by Silicon Valley companies that prioritized keeping talent happy above all else as they battled each other for dominance.
"Their real competition was to recruit the best talent," Spies said. "Their growth depended on that ability. They are the relative newcomers in terms of a sector of the economy, but that’s really a thing they came to first, now everybody’s there."
Spies said Tishman Speyer has long been focusing on offering the company as a brand tenants want to associate with, rather than just building the best office property.
"Our job is to help them figure out their human capital strategy," Spies said. "That’s the main driver of this. That’s a non-real estate way of looking at it, or an extended real estate way of looking at it. That’s the whole point here: real estate doesn’t stop at the bricks."
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