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News release

Chicago, IL

Workplace trends inspire the future of life sciences real estate

From meditation gardens to shared reading nooks, unique amenities can attract top life sciences talent

​CHICAGO, Oct. 12, 2017 – Innovation relies on happy, engaged and productive people, especially in the increasingly competitive life sciences industry. As such, workplace trends are shaping the entire future of life sciences, according to JLL's latest Life Sciences Workplace Insights report. This new reality is inspiring industry leaders to focus on the future of work and leverage the workplace as a weapon in the war for talent.

JLL's research found that life sciences professionals have high expectations for their workplace. In fact, a recent JLL survey of more than 7,000 employees in multiple industries, including life sciences, revealed that 70 percent agree happiness at work is the best ingredient for a unique work experience. Employees who feel the design of the workplace caters to their needs are more likely to also feel fulfilled and be productive, and those benefits multiply quickly. ​

"As the pressure to innovate and the unrelenting war for talent continues, progressive life sciences companies are viewing their real estate and facilities as much more than just laboratory and office space," said Roger Humphrey, Executive Managing Director and leader of JLL's Life Sciences group. "For these organizations, real estate is becoming a vital part of innovation strategy by providing the places and spaces that bring the best ideas to life."

As the importance of workplace appeal grows, the report highlights three emerging trends:​

1.     Out of necessity, companies are getting more creative in location selection.

Major life science clusters, such as San Francisco and Boston, offer an environment that is hard to mimic: access to a rich pool of research institutions, universities, hospitals and the scientists associated with them. Companies are willing to pay high rents to be near hard-to-find talent that is the lifeblood of biopharmaceutical innovation. As a result, across the nation's premier life sciences cities, laboratory space is scarce and rents continue to rise.​

With vacancy rates under 10 percent in nearly all of the top 10 U.S. life science clusters and no signs of slowing demand, new urban lab developments are a growing trend. Four speculative developments are underway in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to create another 1.2 million square feet of space. Houston, which has a rising life sciences reputation, is fundraising to build a $2 billion commercial campus on 30 acres in the heart of the city.

2.     Unique amenities improve the employee experience for scientists.

The appeal of the newest life sciences facilities includes the rich amenities they offer employees. The Cove, a pharma-focused development in San Francisco, will offer fitness rooms, a bowling alley, bocce ball courts, an amphitheater and hotel space when fully complete. The Alexandria at Torrey Pines is located in a hot San Diego life sciences neighborhood and is attracting companies seeking to give employees a unique environment. Tenants on the campus share large conference room spaces, a fitness center and a restaurant with an award-winning chef.​

While high-quality food and onsite gyms are nice, smaller perks also contribute to employee satisfaction. In JLL's 'Workplace: Powered by Human Experience' research, 50 percent of employees say they simply want a place where they can recharge their energy. Setting aside a small space for meditation, or rooms that employees can book for intense periods of focus, can provide a much-needed boost to their productivity. At the same time, open floor plans that can spark collaboration are becoming more commonplace, as seen in some new laboratories that include small collaboration spaces near the research benches.​

3.     Rising costs are being offset by gains in workplace efficiency, flexibility and productivity.

Forward-looking life sciences organizations are optimizing their facilities to boost efficiency while improving employee engagement, empowerment, collaboration and productivity. In fact, some organizations are creating laboratories with plug-and-play research equipment, moveable benches and multiple access points for utilities to accommodate different kinds of research. In these adaptable spaces, scientists can share space even if they are working on different projects. Workplace flexibility helps organizations stay competitive as their business objectives change. And when space is used more efficiently, total real estate costs are kept under control.

"Life sciences companies are seeing new possibilities for their real estate and how they can attract and retain the industry's top talent," Humphrey said. "While workplaces of the future require investment, all signs point to these investments paying off in talent and innovation. Offering a workplace that caters to employees' needs gives life sciences companies the important benefit of keeping their talent engaged and productive."​​

JLL's Life Sciences Workplace Insights report details how life sciences companies can use their workplace as a weapon in the war for talent and builds on JLL's annual Life Sciences Outlook report. Additionally, 'Workplace: Powered by Human Experience' is part of JLL's Future of Work outlook on the changing world of work and its impact on the next generation of real estate.

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​About JLL
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. A Fortune 500 company, JLL helps real estate owners, occupiers and investors achieve their business ambitions. In 2016, JLL had revenue of $6.8 billion and fee revenue of $5.8 billion and, on behalf of clients, managed 4.4 billion square feet, or 409 million square meters, and completed sales acquisitions and finance transactions of approximately $136 billion. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, JLL had nearly 300 corporate offices, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 78,000. As of March 31, 2017, LaSalle Investment Management had $58.0 billion of real estate under asset management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit