- Experience in workplaces can be an important point of difference in a market where occupiers have more choice than ever.
- Installing amenities to enhance the building’s offerings can’t be left up to chance — you have to curate the experience around the offer.
- Flexible, serviced space run by staff trained to nurture occupiers makes it more than just desks; it starts to become a good place to be.
The days Suki worked the office reception desk with her trademark cheery greeting always got my morning off to a good start. It was a small thing, but made arriving in the office a positive experience — unlike the days when she was off, when I’d be lucky to get a glance and a cursory hello.
Experience in the places where we work is important, and increasingly so. There isn’t the same tie to being in an office anymore. In a competitive market, the experience you offer can give you the edge, and that applies equally to traditional offices and flexible spaces.
But creating a good experience is an investment — and providing a tick-box range of amenities isn’t enough. Gyms, cafes and hot desk areas are all very well, but getting people to use them takes work.
You could install a gym, and that’s great for people who like working out with weights. But it’s only a USP (ultimate selling point) for the exercise enthusiasts in the building.
Similarly, if you’ve invested in a café on the ground floor and the people in the building are bringing in their own lunch, or buying a coffee from somewhere else on the way in, then it is redundant.
And occupiers won’t necessarily flock to sit at hot desks or use break-out space simply because it’s available. Installing amenities to enhance the building’s offer can’t be left up to chance — you have to curate the experience around the offer.
For example, by putting on classes in the gym, you are not only offering something for the fans of weightlifting but something that might appeal to others, too. Having events in the café gives more reasons for people to visit, and spend time in the building.
Flexible, serviced space run by staff trained to nurture occupiers makes it more than just desks; it starts to become a good place to be.
Experience can be an important point of difference in a market where occupiers have more choice than ever.
Take three similar buildings in a city business district. One is a traditional office with CAT A offering, the second, next door, has a table football and a gym. The third offers the same as the second, but also runs a table football league, yoga and other fitness classes.
There isn’t necessarily a cost differential for an occupier, but which will be more appealing to an employer looking to entice workers to the office?
Back in the day of traditional serviced offices, operators would drive 15-25% of their income from charging for additional services such as meeting rooms. Now there is generally an expectation from occupiers that access to certain amenities and facilities is part of the overall price. This means the income generated from charging for extras has dropped to between 3% and 10%, for most operations.
As a landlord or operator, if the gym and the classes are open to people outside the building, then it broadens the reach. It’s differentiating the building and provides a way of marketing the office space to those working nearby in buildings that don’t offer the same experience.
Opening the café and the events you hold to the public can similarly drive demand.
Creating a specific office experience is not a guarantee of success; the fundamentals of good business operation and understanding customer needs and requirements are still key. And there is a place in the market for no-frills co-working or flexible workspace for businesses with a low budget or those who don’t see the benefit in the extra perks.
However, in the world of work, where the priorities of employees are shifting and businesses are competing for talent, designing the experience as part of the amenities should be part of a building strategy.
Aside from being a powerful marketing tool, curating the experience can be an easier way to refresh a building’s offer.
The novelty of wacky décor and furniture and features like slides can wear off — or worse, put off potential occupiers — and it is expensive and disruptive to refurbish. But putting on different events or products in the café, or new classes in the gym, is an easier way of offering something new.
Investing in hospitality training for frontline staff can be an easy initial step to creating a great first impression, as the friendly greeting from Suki reflects. Offices can’t merely be bricks and mortar, desks and chairs anymore, the market has moved on from that.