Office fit out as a Return to Work carrot.
Can you think of office colleagues as you would do with tourists in the travel biz. Applying a new office fit-out approach may provide the carrot for return to office. Entice them into a work environment that they can put on social media for more than just a snapshot of the breakout space. Add in like-minded people, otherwise known as co-workers, and set up scenarios where they feel catered for, and they’ll jump at the commute. 1, 2, 3. Or ‘work destinations’.
That’s the 3-step concept behind “work destinations,” where offices that borrow from a travel destination as well as a place with desks, meeting rooms and privacy corners. Green space, a genuine café vibe, co-working spaces and secluded pods for calls — maybe designed with a hotel-style look — have been the go-to design themes for the last couple of years. Here’s the thing…the RTO trickle isn’t gathering enough momentum. Time to up the ante. Art gallery space, pop-up catering, and good coffee can be a starting point for the destination objective.
Office fit out now, and next up.
We know that packaging is still important and good office interior design is now a must have. Cool looking office space, even in modern glass and steel towers, is a basic for any on-trend modern office fit-out. The post covid period has seen just about every employer take out desks and add in nurturing, imaginative, spaces with character. The challenge now is to leverage these flexible offices and see a tangible RTO payoff.
The concept of work destinations is partly a realisation that even cool-looking offices still aren’t seeing a meaningful boost in staff in the office. Business areas like Canary Wharf in Docklands and City of London can be pretty sterile on Mondays and Fridays.
3 Step design for office fit-out.
What the ‘destinations’ design approach calls for is to add an extra layer, just as you’d find in a better resort or a must-visit town or village. An English market town draws visitors for the once a week street event. A small Mediterranean seaside town surprises you with unexpected shops and food. The all-inclusive hotel has entertainment or activities that create memories. These can be the reasons we travel. Bringing the flavour of a destination to an office, even at a smaller scale, can be powerful. Return-to-office commands so far have produced limited response in luring people back to work. Organisations requiring staff in the office full time still see less than 70% of employees trekking back in. Recruiters are still seeing candidates favouring job offers with a WFH capacity. Yet seasoned business leaders say they can see productivity and mentoring are down.
Office designers and facilities departments can be an extra catalyst, an adjuvant, boosting offices into places people actually want to drop into. Carrot not stick.
22 Bishopsgate in London is one example. The tower has a wide open ground floor with art on display, a market area with street food stalls, eye catching co-working zones and even a climbing wall. And there’s a free viewing platform at the top. Not everyone can take space in a building like this, but we can, together, take the ‘destination’ concept and apply it.
Step 1. Soho House style has been a leader with cafes, members’ club benefits, and hotel lobby service to draw people back to work. The next step could be too bring the hospitality world into the office. Step 2 Places like Borough market on your doorstep are a great draw, and its no coincidence that office space in that area is 95% occupied compared to the average conventional leased space attracting less than 40% of staff back to the office on a 5-day analysis. Like minded people, by which we mean common interests, can be a powerful driver.
Step 3 Tried and tested additions that are interesting or fun elements — like table-tennis and quirky coffee points aren’t new. Office spaces have gone a long way in just a short time and work destinations can be a part of that trend.
Suggestions include pop-up pre-owned clothing sellers, or other micro businesses using the office space, to bring the ‘market town’ draw to the office. Maybe bring in a local craft or youth sports club that can build links. Perhaps you have a local producer that can bring along a pop-up stall. The office fit out can provide flexible spaces that can be cleared for other uses. The facilities team need to use those multi-purpose areas and fill them with one-offs, or weekly yoga, in partnership with local community resources. Maybe the chief fun officer has a new corporate function.
Gone are the days when offices had to provide value for money in a key location to get the investment case in view. In the new disrupted world of work offices have to get a seal of approval from individuals. This seal of approval takes the form of office attendance on a Monday and Friday.
Transforming offices from tolerable to travel destinations…that’s a winner. No longer just a place to work, but a talking point that supercharges the idea of the water cooler moment. Bringing together people and facilitating connections focused around the type of draw you’d get from a mini-break. Its harder to achieve, but the payback would go far, far, beyond just improved office attendance. Your whole business culture could benefit.
Mixed-use is the theme of the future office…so long as you really do use the spaces to build a destination. Las Vegas built this idea out of the desert with all the substance of backdrops and lights.
When you come into the office, you get the facilities you need. By adding discoveries from your local environment you get extra delight. That’s the destination factor. Add it to your office fit out and be part of the trend. To see more about how Fusion office design do office fit out in London click here