Welcoming workplaces can bring staff together - Lyndsay Clark

It is no secret that some employers have struggled to get staff back into the office following the pandemic. Initially, companies tried to lure workers back with treats such as free breakfasts, popcorn, beer, and even candy floss, according to reports back in 2021. But, more recently the carrot has been replaced by the stick, with some major corporates demanding staff spend at least a few days in their workplaces.

Prior to the pandemic, a good, accessible location combined with reasonable rent and a modern feel was what most occupiers looked for in their office accommodation. Now, that has shifted in line with what staff want and need, with a greater emphasis on the office space itself and the level of amenities offered within the building and nearby.

Research by Microsoft showed that staff also want to be able to do something specific when they are in the office: connect with their colleagues. Around 85 per cent of respondents said they would be motivated to go into the office to rebuild team bonds. Nearly the same again, 84 per cent, said socialising with co-workers was a draw, while 73 per cent would go to the office more often if they knew their team would be there.

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These preferences are increasingly reflected in what we see occupiers look for in their space. Employers are aiming to create more of a social experience for their staff, which makes them feel a lot less like it is a functional place they begrudgingly go to do their job.

Lyndsay Clark, property management associate, Knight Frank ScotlandLyndsay Clark, property management associate, Knight Frank Scotland
Lyndsay Clark, property management associate, Knight Frank Scotland

With that in mind, occupiers want to know how they can incorporate break-out areas, less formal meeting spaces, and sections of an office that encourage social interaction and collaboration. They also want provision for facilities that support active commuting and support individuals’, as well as their employers’, environmental and other concerns – a couple of bike racks and a shower won’t cut it anymore.

It is also about the overall feel of the workspace. More companies want space that feels less corporate and austere, instead opting for environments that feel more comfortable or even informal. That can be as straightforward as making different furniture choices, ‘defurbished’ interiors, fewer partitioned off rooms, or creating welcoming communal areas within buildings.

More landlords, for example, are creating social spaces in their properties that encourage different occupiers to mix. They are introducing platforms that allow communication between tenants, bringing food vendors on site for everyone to enjoy, providing gym facilities, or facilitating running clubs.

In Glasgow, City Park is a good example of a building that has been successful with this approach. The landlord has created a lot of communal space, new seating areas, introduced a coffee hub, and developed an app that provides a platform for a running club and promotions with local eateries, among other benefits.

Everyone wants to feel part of something bigger. Being a member of a team and a wider company are great starting points, but if you can develop a sense of community – at an intra and inter-office level – then that can act as a draw for encouraging people back to the office and, at the same time, create an even better working environment for everyone to enjoy.

Lyndsay Clark, property management associate, Knight Frank Scotland



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