How much will a high-quality workforce cost you? These days, the price is more than just compensation and benefits. If new talent recruitment and retention is your goal, you’ll
also need to pay attention to laboratory location, design and
amenities. Like other industries, the life sciences sector has begun
to recognize the workplace’s influence on employee happiness
and productivity, according to JLL’s 2017 Life Sciences Outlook
Report. And, life sciences companies are rewriting the rules of the
Location and facilities are playing an increasingly critical role
in the competition for scientific talent. Across industries, creating
a workplace that employees find actually inspiring and engaging
has become a competitive differentiator. In a recent JLL survey of
more than 7,000 employees, 70 percent agree that happiness at
work is the best ingredient for a unique work experience. While
nice restaurants and onsite gyms are nice, smaller-scale elements
also contribute to employee happiness.
In JLL’s research, 50 percent of employees say they simply
want a place where they can recharge their energy. Setting aside a
small space for mediation, 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 have become more commonplace, as seen in some
new laboratories that include small collaboration spaces near the
Employees that feel the design of the workplace caters to their
needs are more likely to feel fulfilled and be productive, and
those benefits multiply quickly. Gallup research shows that highly
engaged business units experienced a 41 percent reduction in
absenteeism, a 17 percent increase in productivity and ultimately
achieve 21 percent greater profitability.
No wonder life sciences companies are seeking contemporary,
amenities-rich facilities that will inspire new discoveries. As the
importance of workplace appeal grows, three new rules are driving
strategies for attracting talent and helping it thrive.
Rule No. 1: Get creative to be near the action
Major life science clusters, like Boston and San Diego, offer
an environment that is hard to mimic: access to a rich pool of
research institutions, universities, hospitals and the scientists asso-
ciated with them. Companies are willing to pay exceedingly high
rents to be near hard-to-find talent that is the lifeblood of industry
innovation. Real estate developers are responding with new life
sciences projects in urban areas—but also in the suburbs, attract-
ing companies seeking to balance real estate costs and proximity
In premium life sciences cities, laboratory space is scarce and
rents continue to rise. In one laboratory hot spot, Seattle’s Lake
Union neighborhood, asking rents climbed nearly 15 percent over
the past year. Nearby Capitol Hill, home to renowned medical
centers and Benaroya Research Institute, has zero vacancy. On the
East Coast, Boston’s popular East Cambridge lab market comes
with one of the country’s highest price tags, with rents averaging
approximately $75 per square foot, and its rents have risen steadily over the last couple of years.
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. Two speculative lab developments are underway in Boston’s West Cambridge neighborhood to
create another 260,500 square feet of space. Houston, which has a
rising reputation in life sciences, is fundraising to build a $2 billion
commercial campus on 30 acres in the heart of the city.
Suburban markets surrounding the major life science hubs are
benefiting from the overflow, offering lower costs and, typically, more options for office and lab space. In the Mid-Peninsula
The New Rules
for Life Science Talent Recruitment
An increasingly younger workforce equates to unique office
environments never seen, or thought about, before.
by Roger Humphrey, Executive Managing Director and Leader of Life Sciences Practice, JLL, Chicago, Ill.
Location and facilities are playing an increasingly critical role in the competition for scientific talent.