What’s the most important amenity at your business center?
Good Wi-Fi and meeting rooms are naturally high on the list, according to a number of business centre operators we spoke to. That, plus kitchen facilities, bicycle storage, showers, and a bed. Oh and a roof terrace, too.
It’s clear that serviced office facilities tend to reflect the specific location of the business centre and its target market. For instance, while kitchens, car parking and Wi-Fi are often highly valued, other features like bicycle storage and changing rooms tend to move up the list in city centre locations.
What’s particularly striking is the way in which serviced office operators are getting creative to service their clients’ requests.
UK operator UBC has just finished refurbishing its Fleet business centre, and took the opportunity to include new shower and changing facilities during the renovation process.
Lheyton Warby, Commercial Director at UBC, says requests for changing and showers facilities are becoming more popular from prospective clients in the Fleet area. “Invariably they are local and given the healthy lifestyle trend, they want to cycle or run into the office, so a shower is always handy.”
As expected, the requirement for cycling and shower facilities in central London is considerably more prominent.
Hana King, Managing Director at Circle Offices in Bishopsgate, London, says that cycling and shower facilities are always high on the priority lists of their clients and prospects, alongside good quality Wi-Fi and kitchen/break-out areas.
According to Hana, requests for gym facilities also crop up now and again. Not all business centres have the luxury of space to be able to offer a fitness centre – Circle Offices included – so Hana found an alternative solution.
“It’s not feasible for us to have one in-house, so we solved this by getting a corporate deal with a local gym.”
Another way Circle Offices have resolved clients’ requirements is by developing a designated ‘quiet’ wing.
According to Hana, the business centre’s south-facing wing accommodates a row of small one- and two-person offices, which – given its quiet location – became a hit with therapy and treatment consultants.
“When we first opened up in 2007 the floor was empty and quiet, so it appealed to therapists. We found that there was a high demand for therapy rooms in the City so we targeted that audience because we knew we could accommodate their requirements.
“Before we knew it, two-and-a-half floors of the south-facing wing were accommodated by therapists.”
Roof terrace “adds extra value”
In addition to ‘quiet’ spaces, another highly valued facility is break-out space. This may come as standard in most business centres, but one version that adds particular value is a roof terrace.
This is particularly sought-after in city centre locations, where green outdoor spaces are in limited supply and therefore come at a premium.
In central Stockholm, roof terraces come highly regarded and act as a significant pull factor for prospective business centre clients, according to Carolina Leeman, Business Manager at City Office in Stockholm’s World Trade Center.
“Our clients value our furnished roof terrace very highly, as it adds extra value to their working environment,” she said. “It’s also an important selling point that differentiates us from other business centers in the city center of Stockholm.”
Similar to other business centre operators, Caroline noted that a quality Internet and Wi-Fi connection, reception services and access to meeting rooms are also “of very high importance” for City Office clients, along with the all-important kitchen facilities.
In fact, Caroline explained that access to kitchen facilities is “of the highest importance” to clients and prospects – so much so, that it’s more of an assumption than a requested amenity.
“In City Office and in the serviced office industry in Sweden it is standard to have kitchen facilities, so it’s probably not the first thing clients would think about,” she said.
Caroline also commented on the importance of shower and changing facilities, which is particularly acute given the centre’s proximity to Central Station and its high-speed connection to Arlanda Airport.
As such, many of their clients travel frequently both domestically and internationally, so City Offices found a way to add further value to their serviced offices in the form of a quiet room with a bed and a shower. Caroline says this is a “highly appreciated” feature of their serviced offices, which adds significant value to travelling clients.
From quiet treatment rooms and local gym memberships to in-house hotel amenities, business centres continue to push the boundaries of the traditional serviced office model by introducing more facilities and services that better meet their clients’ needs. Circle Offices is a classic example of how local partnerships can overcome the barriers of physical square footage, while City Office demonstrates that sometimes, exchanging desk space for alternative purposes – in this case, an en-suite room – can add significantly more worth than its rental value equivalent.