Plaza Companies continues to develop real estate in new ways, focusing on health and wellness in office buildings throughout the Valley at a time when it matters most.

The goal as always is to create working environments that are not only good for business, but good for the body and mind as well — and to set Plaza’s developments apart from other commercial developments by creating an environment that is truly inspiring for tenants and employees.

The commercial real estate landscape will change as the result of the COVID-19 crisis, in ways that can’t yet be anticipated. However, one thing that is certain is that health and wellness will be a focus like never before. Plaza Companies has been ahead of the curve on this for some time now.

For example, at SkySong, The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, Plaza Companies has installed features throughout the property — including at the newest building, SkySong 5 — designed to create an improved environment for employees, including public art, walkability, a Zero Mass Water dispenser, outdoor meeting areas and other features. Overall, more than a dozen features have been or are being installed in the future as part of the “Culture of Health and Innovation” approach. SkySong was cited in an Urban Land Institute article called “Scorched” as an example of how the use of shade and thoughtful architecture can reduce the overall heat island effect and improve the work environment.

At Estrella Medical Plaza II, completed last year on the Banner Estrella Medical Center campus, project features include an extensive focus on sustainability, green building, gardens and walkability and local, interactive art. There’s even a Little Free Library on site and signage in both English and Spanish on walking paths to promote exercise and learning while creating a strong sense of wellness for visitors and tenants.

At Park Central, the project’s owners have installed extensive walking and biking features, indoor/outdoor work spaces, extensive public art and many other features designed to encourage connectivity with the outdoors. Most of the office spaces at Park Central include roll-up doors to allow access to the outdoors. Studies show that employee happiness and productivity increase when they have access to outdoor spaces during the work day.

And as the world makes its way out of the COVID-19 crisis in the coming months, a focus on healthy workplaces will be more important than ever before.

“Companies and their employees are seeking more than just the traditional office space, they are seeking a place that makes them feel healthy while they conduct their business,” said Sharon Harper, President & CEO of Plaza Companies. “Now more than ever, they will be asking features that create a better working environment and promote the health and well-being of their employees. We are working to make our projects the premier examples of this approach in the Valley of the Sun through our ‘Culture of Health and Innovation approach.”

The COVID-19 crisis will undoubtedly have a significant effect on commercial real estate moving forward, and one of those effects will be work spaces that are designed with health and wellness in mind. From a property management standpoint, that means an acute focus on cleaning and disinfecting spaces more thoroughly than ever before.

“We are going to see a change in what companies want in their work environments,” Harper said. “Companies are going to focus on ways to ensure employee interactions are safe, and that employees feel comfortable in their work environments. Offices are going to have to be more flexible and open in order to best promote health and wellness. We knew this already and were building office space accordingly, but the COVID-19 crisis will really make this change permanent.”

Harper said that for many companies, the post COVID-19 era will be an opportunity to rethink the way they approach office space.

“The health of employees is going to be the top priority coming out of this crisis,” Harper said. “We believe this will create a permanent focus in how employers and companies think about their office environments and what they can do to promote employee health.”