Prior to the pandemic, job seekers might have been wooed by slick office amenities like on-site gyms, coffee and snack bars, and nap rooms. But as we battle the Delta variant of coronavirus amid murmurs of the mu variant, health and safety are top of mind not only for job candidates but also employees returning to their office buildings. Whereas breaktime and after-hours recreation were a major focus before shutdown, healthcare is now the corporate amenity at the forefront for a growing number of employers.
Eden Health, a New York-based primary care startup, is set to open clinics next year in seven Chicago office buildings that serve thousands of employees. In addition to both urgent and primary care services, Eden Health also offers physical therapy and mental health counseling. The clinics also offer resources for patients in need of second opinions and referrals. Appointments can be held virtually, too, and any dependents on the employee's plan can also take advantage of telehealth visits.
Good healthcare benefits have long been a perk for full-time staffers. But when those benefits are made easily accessible, it could be just what the doctor ordered for those reticent about returning to the office.
What it means for investors
The shift to virtual work during the pandemic left many offices empty. Hybrid work also leaves office landlords and commercial real estate investors in a precarious position as companies seek to trim the fat with office real estate when employees are only on-site part of the time. As we are witnessing with The Great Resignation, many people are willing to call it quits for a variety of reasons, including not feeling safe at their workplace during the pandemic.
Envoy, a workplace solutions provider, released a Return to the Workplace Report that surveyed 1,000 employees on how they felt about returning to the office. Of the 87% of employees who have reservations about coming back to work, 46% are worried about exposure to the coronavirus, while 30% are concerned about interacting with coworkers who haven't gotten the vaccine.
Having such easy access to healthcare offers peace of mind in our current times. Telehealth makes it even easier in the age of social distancing, not to mention for those employees who will continue working from home, whether in a hybrid or fully remote environment. So while a kegerator might have made employees eager to attend staff meetings in the past, employers need to think bigger in attracting and retaining employees, and landlords need to think about ways to attract lessees.
Onsite health services is certainly one option for offices, but it's not the only way to create a healthier work environment. Improving indoor air filtration and creating more outdoor spaces are other ways to make it safer for employees to gather together once more. Those cool roof decks on top of office buildings might have been intended for after-work socializing with coworkers and clients, but now companies can use them as open-air conference rooms that permit for safe social distancing during the workday. Landlords who focus on adding or enhancing amenities such as these will have a better chance of having their office space stand out amidst the many vacancies currently available.
The bottom line
Healthy employees are happy employees. Excellent healthcare benefits have always been a draw for employees, but they have even more of an allure in a post-pandemic world. Onsite health services and other amenities that promote safe, socially distant workplaces could be the key to putting the hustle and bustle back in the office.