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The State of Workplace Experience

27 July 2022

HqO have collaborated with Verdantix for their most recent in depth report on the evolving global landscape of commercial real estate, with both the views of property owners and occupiers balanced for a well rounded summary of the modern workplace.

The data was compiled via anonymous phone interviews with senior executives working across management roles, dealing with spaces of at least 1 million square feet and teams of at least 1000 employees. These questions focused on the current state of their working enivoronments, stakeholders in engagement, communication in the chain between property owners and users, as well as technology and flexibility progression.


New Ways to Work


The first section of the report investigates how traditional lease structures have been affected by the pandemic, and what this means for development and the trajectory of built environment. Employee experience has been forced up in priority by collective worker power, the hybrid and home working productivity proof having demonstrably enabled them to make more demands of communal spaces if they were to leave the home.

Whilst initial figures earlier in the pandemic recovery suggested worrying figures for occupancy and utilisation, the key takeaway from the new charts is that office space looks to be used differently yet not necessarily less – that’s beginning to show now that initiatives are being more fully realised for encouraging the social return and learning from the distinction of its benefits for businesses, employees and teamwork.

48 per cent of employers indicate that most or all of their employees are already back in the office, but it’s redesigning the office that is likely to revitalise this population density in the coming years as 68 per cent of employers have already redesigned their physical workspaces to support modern employee needs, while 28 per cent have intention to action such changes within a couple of years.

B. Joseph Pine II is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and management advisor to Fortune 500 companies. He gives an insight into how focusing on methods of incentivising and encouraging the best from the people in a workforce can pioneer success regardless of the physical space. He highlights the robust experiences, personal experiences, dramatic experiences that form a virtual productive environment that shapes the cohesion and progress of a team. This opinion draws on evidence from the recent rise of experience platforms, the saving grace they proved for interactions and management during COVID restrictions, and their adaptable benefits in hybrid forms for the return to office.


Formulating Successful Strategies – Landlords Vs Employers


The next section attempts to bridge the disparity between building owner and occupier concerns by discussing how priorities can align. Landlords were found to be unfazed by the hybrid working pain-points – rather, they were focused on evolving the building maintenance, ESG credentials and ultimately turnover.

Yet employers were understandably worried about the aforementioned workplace experience and connectivity, something that will inevitably effect their relationship with property owners also. 52 per cent of employers either strongly agree or agree with the sentiment that companies are more likely to succeed when employees spend more time in the office, however so many are concerned with the tools and services available and their compatibility for communication and efficiency across teams that it has cultivated a lack of confidence in hybrid working that could force more to vacate offices entirely, without the building development and owner cooperation.

Going beyond standard upkeep will attract tenants and set the standard for better competition moving forwards that is sure to retain and grow portfolios. Some landlords made it clear that they had already begun to diversify and enhance their offerings in order to bounce back from the pandemic. Green leases are currently offered by 84 per cent of respondents, and flexible configurations are planned for the next few years by 32 per cent despite only being available in about half of commercial property currently.

Kristin Mueller, JLL’s COO of Property Management, gives an exclusive on the projected future of work from the perspective of a world leader in real estate services. They utilise data to transform spaces in a people-centric fashion, and see technological integration as the driving force behind better understanding the relationship between beings and their buildings. She explains how the goal will be making spaces more fluidly multi-purpose to accelerate their benefits away from the home and build community.


Building Up the Relationship


Only 12 per cent of landlords work closely and collaborate with tenants on their long-term workplace strategies, indicating that the landlord-tenant relationship is not established enough to keep ahead of industry trends and evolving needs, as the report suggests is quite important moving forwards. The statistics lead towards everyone in the industry becoming more and more aware of the demand for digital adoption - despite some hesitation as earlier surveys indicated - to make buildings profitable and productive.

How this will be implemented does cause some contention however. Almost 80 per cent of landlords think that the smart buildings should be accessible via a comprehensive platform for diverse tenants. Yet most tenant companies have already invested in all their own bespoke hot desk, experience, feedback and support tools. The same initiative is clear, but there is some distinction – where the building development is leaning towards mobile access and order management, the tenants are looking to build their brand loyalty and efficiency with engagement interfaces.

Not for the first time, a job role gap is widening for liaison between these two parties as an experience manager, evolving from that of a traditional FM. Currently, 44 per cent of landlords don’t directly email tenants at all and 48 per cent of landlords only email tenant point-of-contacts on occasion. Improving this communication, and collecting data directly via building apps will help them understand the usage needs better. Employers and landlords can see a similar vision for the workplace, but need to collaborate on their different ideas for getting there.

The HqO Workplace Experience Platform makes it easy for companies and commercial property teams to create modern workplaces through world-class amenities and services that allow people to thrive and produce the best results. Active in over 250 million square feet in 25 countries, 57 per cent of the Fortune 100 rely on HqO to enhance their workplace experiences, improve employee satisfaction, and drive operational excellence.


Picture: working at a desk. Image credit: Unsplash.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 27 July 2022


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