Wellbeing at work is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘must have’.
We talk about trends in the workspace sector all the time, but what’s happened to the office landscape in recent years has been nothing less than a seismic shift. In a relatively short period, office buildings have gone from being places where people do things to being places that do things for people. And, in today’s fierce war for talent, being able to offer a workplace environment that employees want to spend time in – one that actually enhances their working life, can give businesses that all-important competitive edge. A big part of this is having the right blend and standard of amenities in place.
The demand for meaningful workplace amenities is being driven by a multitude of factors, each one influencing the way our workplaces evolve. A rise in the number of freelancers and self-employed workers, now accounting for around 15 percent of the working population in the UK, has spurred increased demand for co-working space with shared amenities that support networking and collaboration, the growing appeal of flexible workspace to businesses of all sizes is, again, fueling demand for high-quality shared amenity, as is the continuing influence of the Millennial generation that places an onus on the social aspect of work and the impact of workplace wellbeing – with a healthy office now being an essential aspect of the employee experience.
Successful amenity provision speaks to each of these demands, helping to create workspaces that support businesses in attracting and retaining talent; contributing to their growth. Planned in the right way, workplace amenity can also bond building clusters together, forging vibrant new communities in our towns and cities.
The Wellbeing Factor
Happy, healthy people are the biggest asset to any business. Human beings aren’t just units of production, and workspaces that treat them as such create a battery hen experience where wellbeing suffers and productivity drops. Encouragingly, increasing numbers of employers are recognizing the benefits of having a workspace that supports wellness; a recent survey from the Confederation of British Industry, in partnership with Bupa and HCA Healthcare, found that 63 percent of respondent companies viewed workplace health and wellbeing as an important business issue.
This reflects what we’re hearing from our customer steering groups. They’re telling us that that wellbeing at work is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘must have’ and they want to be able to offer employees convenient access to high-quality health and fitness amenities. Today’s workforce is more health aware than ever before, and with retirement ages being pushed further and further back, employees expect their employers to take a responsible attitude towards their long-term health and wellbeing. Everyone wants to feel like their employer is looking after them. So we must ensure buildings and developments provide amenities that can really help customers to support employee wellness, from both a physical and mental point of view. This goes far beyond providing the essentials like bike storage and shower facilities, to offering access to things like yoga studios, virtual fitness classes, guided meditation sessions, on-site gyms, astro-turf training areas, holistic therapy pop-ups and chill-out zones.
We’re focused on taking these benefits to as broad a range of customers as possible, so we cluster buildings together and share amenities across them. What we say is that, if you’re part of the Bruntwood community, you can come and enjoy the facilities at any of our other buildings too.
Green Space as Amenity
According to the United Nations, by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. And as urban infrastructure expands to cater to this influx, access to green space and a connection to nature as an amenity will become increasingly desirable. Exposure to green space has been linked to employee well-being and productivity, and some big players have taken note. Facebook, for instance, has topped its Silicon Valley headquarters with a huge rooftop park and Google plans to incorporate a 300m-long rooftop garden, complete with running track into its new London headquarters in King’s Cross.
We see green space as multi-functional amenity, it can provide a place for customers to work, collaborate and relax. A number of our flagship buildings such as Platform in Leeds and Neo in Manchester have green rooftop terraces and the new urban neighborhood we are creating in Manchester, Circle Square will be centered on one of the largest new city centre green spaces for generations. Not only will the inclusion of green space in and around our workspaces help to address the future needs of urban workers but it will also ensure that our growing cities are sustainable.
Collaboration and Community
Amenities have to work hard these days. Used in the right way they can help to facilitate a sense of belonging and stimulate a collaborative, creative culture – essential parts of the modern, co-working scene.
Businesses want shared amenities that provide opportunities to collide and interact with like-minded ventures within the workspace community. Where, once upon a time, people might have congregated by the water dispenser, they’re now coming together in open plan kitchen areas, shared lounges and on communal roof terraces and this type of amenity is in big demand.
For small businesses, freelancers and start-ups, shared amenities like these can be places to source invaluable peer support and advice. They act as the centre of a workspace community and we’ve seen them reap serious rewards for our customers in terms of knowledge exchange and network building that supports growth. Larger companies are switching on to the benefits of collaborative amenities too and, as a result, we’re seeing more of them taking up space in co-working buildings in a bid to gain access to innovative start-ups and rich talent pools.
Retail Amenity Reimagined
Workspace amenity can inject energy and interest into developments. We’re now blurring the lines between retail and office space to provide quality services and provision within buildings themselves. This not only ensures that customers benefit from easy and convenient access to stand-out retail, including independent food and beverage providers, but it adds to the overall vibrancy and amenity of buildings. It’s all about using amenity to create a destination for entire business community. And the perfect example would be Hatch, the existing new pop-up food and drink destination we’ve created at the Oxford Road corridor in Manchester. Hatch is satisfying a number of objectives – providing an incubator for innovative start-up retail and leisure ventures, a fantastic amenity for businesses that will be based within our new Circle Square neighborhood and a new must-visit ‘foodie’ attraction for Manchester as a whole. Amenities like Hatch also act as an effective ‘third space’ for the businesses around it – another place where co-workers and colleagues can connect and recharge.
In this brave new workplace world, businesses that can offer meaningful amenity to their employees are bound to have the advantage. And, for developers this means constantly redefining what ‘amenity’ means and always pushing it to deliver more.