The Latest Prestige Amenity: Employee Health at The Connell Company

Connell taps Eden for a full-spectrum medical clinic at The Park at Berkeley Heights.

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A New Vision Of The Workplace

Connell at a glance

Right now, millions of employees are working from home. So when companies re-open, how can they strategically lure their workers back to the office? More importantly, how can commercial developers entice new tenants into their properties?

The Connell Company knows that a post-shutdown workplace will need to offer more than just coffee bars and vending machines. Employees will want excellent food, accessible fitness, unique workspaces, and places to gather. And with health on everyone’s minds, workers also want to feel safe and have instant access to healthcare. To meet that need, Connell has aligned with national medical provider Eden Health to install an onsite, full-service medical clinic as a cornerstone amenity as The Park continues its $400 million transformation.

Of course, Connell has been seeking out top-flight amenities for much longer than the recent shutdown. As the company expands and upgrades its 185-acre property in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, it’s “not repurposing, but reinventing the whole idea of a corporate park,” says Shane Connell, EVP of The Connell Company. He knows a healthy employee is a happy employee—and also a very productive one. “We’re taking it to the next level by incorporating great outdoor workspaces with fresh air, health amenities, jogging trails, gyms all over the place, and corporate cafeterias that serve organic foods and fresh-pressed juices—the whole nine yards.” As a result of Connell’s commitment to best-in-class amenities such as Eden Health, they are able to command a 15% market rent premium when compared to other buildings in the area.

A New Level Of Amenity

In years past, The Park had already included an impressive list of amenities including dining, gourmet coffee, a fitness center, and a placid outdoor work area with a waterfall. To take the comfort level even higher with the latest expansion, Connell, Stephen Kilroy, SVP of hospitality and marketing for Connell, and Brian Healy, Connell’s SVP of capital markets, drew inspiration from the feature-rich campuses of tech firms in Silicon Valley and universities nationwide. At colleges right now, says Healy, “millennial workforces are having experiences with amenities and access that we never did. So they will expect similar accommodations and conveniences as they move from the educational campus into other work environments.” Consequently, to attract top talent from schools and tech firms, companies must offer similar amenities at their workplaces.

At the newly renovated Park, the comfort and care level will be unsurpassed. “The outdoor gyms and fitness areas are amazing,” enthuses Kilroy. “I hit the jogging trail today at lunch and it was awesome. Each cafeteria has a different theme to it, and we’re talking to organic farmers to plan rotating seasonal menus. When you need to get out of the office to clear your head, we have an outdoor area with dozens of alternative workspaces. So you don’t have to stop working to get some fresh air and get inspired.”

"We weren't looking for an urgent care provider...We wanted more of the white-glove approach of a curated medical practice."

“White Glove” Healthcare For Every Employee

Eden’s onsite clinic at The Park is light-years beyond your ordinary urgent-care offering. In line with Eden’s philosophy of “a concierge doctor for every employee,” the clinic offers same-day doctor appointments, mental health care, and even help in filing medical insurance claims. More importantly, they provide in-depth, full-spectrum care that looks after all aspects of an employee’s health.

“We’re developing an amazing campus and Eden’s a great addition,” says Kilroy. “When we discovered Eden, it was an instant light going on. They offer a perfect solution to such a needed issue, like the way we’re trying to approach other parts of the campus.”

Eden’s high quality of care was important to Connell. “We weren’t looking for an urgent care provider,” explains Healy. “We wanted more of the white-glove approach of a curated medical practice. Eden’s innovative, full-service approach was exactly what we needed. A lot of times, this concierge approach to medical care is really reserved for executives and not a wider class of employees. Thanks to Eden, this elevated approach to medical care is now available to all classes of employees on the campus, and that’s truly a great benefit.”

Better Health Just Steps Away

Healy explains how Eden’s onsite clinic can put more hours—and better health—into an employee’s day: “Normally to get to your doctor—if you can even get an appointment—you’re going offsite, you’re taking a lunch hour and wolfing down fast food, you’re taking PTO, all of which erode quality of life and productivity. That’s time you could spend walking the trail, working out, or doing other things that add to your health, rather than sitting in traffic.”

Though the clinic is located conveniently onsite, busy employees can access care without leaving their workspaces, thanks to Eden’s versatile mobile app. “If you’re in a tight spot or you’re somewhere else and you need to reach a provider right away, you can do that with the app,” Healy notes. Patients can ask questions of their doctors, get prescriptions refilled, and even get help filing claims and dealing with insurance issues. “This technology, obviously, is important,” says Kilroy, “given where we are virtually today.”

"If employees feel sick, Eden can tell them 'here's a place where you can get a test and let us know what happens' have an advocate looking after you, and that's not an easy thing to find these days"

360 Integrated Care For Changing Times

In times good and bad, onsite care is always beneficial to employees, but it’s an added blessing during COVID-19, says Healy. “If employees feel sick, Eden can tell them, ‘here’s a place where you can get a test and let us know what happens.’ It’s like you have an advocate looking after you, and that’s not an easy thing to find these days. It’s very reassuring amid all this craziness that’s going on.” (Companies nationwide also take advantage of Eden’s active daily COVID-19 monitoring, which is administered through the mobile app.)

The pandemic and shutdowns tend to elevate the mental stress that can creep into any workplace, even one as placid as Connell’s campus. As such, Eden’s integrated mental health care is yet another boon, as Kilroy points out. “Unfortunately, a lot of people
are having a tough time right now. They can feel like, ‘I’m having a really bad day and I need to deal with it, but I don’t have a therapist.’” By using the app to get a physician’s referral, employees can connect with a mental health provider in minutes — not days or weeks.

Same-Day Appointments; Three-Month Build

“You don’t need a large premium space to put in a clinic like Eden’s,” says Katie Sullivan, the Eden project manager who oversaw the facility’s installation at The Park. “Connell offered us a 1000-square-foot location that was triangular in shape in its most recently renovated building - 200 Connell Drive. Though it was previously used as a management office and storage at one point, the space is strategically and conveniently located across from FieldHouse, the building’s fitness area, which expands our physical therapy capabilities and further complements the holistic approach to health and wellness at The Park, including the recent additions of a fitness director as well as a nutritionist. Eden was able to utilize the otherwise vacant area, and it’s working great for us; I think it flows really nicely. Most landlords are surprised by the relatively small footprint that they need to put in a clinic.”

The clinic’s time to market was also remarkably quick, says Sullivan. “From groundbreaking to clinic opening was only about 90 days. And that includes the supply delays we encountered; we started construction just as the pandemic was getting underway, and we had trouble even getting a bathroom faucet! We designed the entire amenity and worked closely with Connell’s architect and contractors to bring it to life. They were already rebuilding a lot of infrastructure and were able to add us to that existing construction project, simplifying matters greatly.”

connellA Resounding “Wow” For Tenants

A turnkey healthcare amenity like Eden’s represents one of the biggest differentiators that developers can showcase to top in-market tenants, and Eden’s offering proved not only desirable but affordable, says Healy: “The overall tenant value, speed to build and relatively low costs made the unit economics very appealing.”

The leasing team and their CRE broker partners are receiving great feedback on the Eden clinic from tenants currently in market, and Eden’s expanded, “white-glove” care resonates with potential tenants as well. “I can tell you that it’s a tremendous positive on the phone when you start to introduce the breadth of service that Eden can provide—it’s been a resounding ‘wow’ as they start to see the value the clinic offers. I also explain that the membership rates that can be offered to employees are quite attractive, especially in comparison to the concierge level of care they’ll receive.”

This dramatic expansion of The Park in Berkeley Heights is just the latest expression of an ongoing philosophy. “Shane Connell and the entire Connell family are long-term in their vision,” says Healy. “There’s a real, genuine desire for people to have a more fulfilling life within the campus. At Connell, we envision a holistic ecosystem that gives everyone the right to choose where they want to engage, where they want to work, exercise, eat, or de-stress.” Certainly, amenities like Eden’s onsite clinic help employees stay healthy and productive. Eden’s clinic also allows companies to remain competitive in attracting top-flight talent and helps developers attract A-list landlords. And that’s a healthy proposition all around.

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