Flexspace changed the way we work, but now flexspace itself is changing. People want more from their workspace. They don’t want to make a long trip into a boring office – it needs to be a genuinely attractive destination to add value to their work-day.
A Cushman & Wakefield report found that 85% of office stock is at risk of ‘obsolescence’ without significant upgrades. This should be a warning sign for landlords and operators. Rejuvenation of workspaces to meet changing customer demands becoming a must.
One of the best ways to achieve that rejuvenation is by integrating next-level amenities – defined by quality, uniqueness, and utility – into workspaces. These don’t just upgrade its functionality, they can transform its fundamental proposition and turn it into a genuine destination.
Here are 10 of the most cutting-edge amenities to take inspiration from, with examples from across the UK.
Green spaces like courtyards or gardens are in high demand from flexspace customers for good reason. Research links access to nature in the workplace with a diverse range of benefits, including diminished mental fatigue, better air quality, and increased productivity. It’s also a great way to encourage socialisation, creating a central outdoor hub around which people can meet and chat.
Spaces like Chineham Park in Basingstoke, fortunate enough to be surrounded by countryside, achieve this with merit. But even less rural workspaces, such as Quest House in Cardiff, exemplify how you can make the most of what you have, with outdoor meeting pods in a nicely manicured courtyard.
And if green space is truly unachievable, like it often is in urban environments, terraces or rooftops are the next best thing. Bristol’s Origin workspace, for example, added greenery and garden furniture to their roof terrace.
Environmentalism is a cornerstone ethical concern in the face of the climate crisis, and it bleeds into people’s preferences when it comes to their working habits. 71% of people want to work for employers that prioritise sustainability, and it’s easy to imagine that preference extending to their workspace choice.
Building sustainability into your workspace is a great way to meet those preferences, while also adding genuine value for occupiers. Shellwin’s serviced offices in the Thames Valley region demonstrate this in action. They implemented electric vehicle charging stations across their properties, and embraced 100% renewable energy sources.
Research from Cushman & Wakefield ranked on-site fitness facilities as one of the most impactful amenities for occupier happiness. In smaller workspaces, this can come in the form of a dedicated fully-stocked gym. But larger workspaces can consider more inventive exercise options.
Google’s new UK HQ in King’s Cross, currently under construction, is a great example of the latter approach. They initially made headlines with plans for a full-size running track on the rooftop, but have since updated the plans to also include a 25-metre swimming pool and multi-use sports court.
Exercise facilities are a great inclusion in any workspace, but they need to be paired with end of journey facilities or people won’t use them. These are facilities designed to allow people to transition from exercise back into work, like bicycle storage and on-site showers. Building showers into your workspace can also encourage people to adopt a healthier, more active commute, which is an added benefit.
Some operators go a step beyond with their end of journey facilities, like Landsec’s The Forge. Alongside offering 230 bicycle spaces, 17 showers, and 230 lockers, they also provide a towel laundry service that encourages members to take advantage of the facilities.
A productive work-day hinges on good fuel. But it can be tough to maintain a healthy diet when you’re busy at work and the nearest option is a 15-minute walk away. On-site cafes, restaurants, or coffee bars can help solve this, keeping people happy, productive, and healthy throughout the day.
Smaller workspaces that implement on-site refreshment vendors tend to do it in the form of a coffee bar with a few food options, like Bruntwood’s ‘Bloc’ in Manchester . Larger workspaces, especially those that occupy a whole building like Bruntwood’s ‘The Alberton’, can go a step further.
‘The Alberton’ has various food and drink offerings, with a fully-fledged restaurant on the ground floor and a health-focused café with terrace on the 17th floor. Other providers bring in an independent provider to manage like Two Hands Cafe with Clockwise offices.
Quiet spaces are important for two main reasons. Firstly, they offer a suitable environment for high-focus tasks, enabling activity-based working (ABW) that optimises productivity. And secondly, they give people the chance to take a peaceful break away from the stresses of their workday, whenever they need it. And not a phone booth!
Bruntwood’s ‘Bloc’ does well on this front, too. There’s a basement wellness space with a state-of-the-art yoga studio, a dedicated ‘chill-out’ room, and even a sleep pod. The external living wall is also designed to reduce noise levels, meaning the entire space benefits from quiet.
Building for occupier convenience is a big factor in enabling a great flexspace experience. Concierge services are one of the best ways to do it. These services go a step beyond a virtual receptionist. They can include all of the same basic services, like call handling, but also provide more bespoke services like greeting guests and receiving/storing mail.
The operator Myo, for example, offers a boutique concierge at all of their workspaces. It’s described as a ‘personal, hospitality-style service provided by a discreet and consistent team’, a strong value-add for members looking to declutter and simplify their days.
Wellbeing at work is a hot topic, and studies show it’s of growing importance to employees. Workspaces can be tailored to meet people’s wellbeing needs in simple ways, like having indoor plants and plenty of breakout spaces. But the real benefits come from integrating more advanced wellbeing-focused amenities.
‘Oru’ in Sutton is the perfect example of a workspace that’s taken this concept to the next level. They have a dedicated ‘Wellness Quarter’ built into their workspace. It offers a spa-like setting available on-demand, featuring treatments including acupuncture and massage and a diverse range of classes including yoga, pilates, and barre.
It might not feel like a particularly cutting-edge amenity, but sophisticated access control features can be a big convenience-booster for flexspace members. Particularly in workspaces that are open 24/7, they allow for easy access while maintaining maximum security. An access control system can also be used to manage meeting room access through an online booking system, ensuring that booking slots are respected.
Purple Office in Poundbury, for example, have a proprietary app which offers full access control, while also allowing members to make desk or meeting room reservations. This self-service approach offers maximum convenience, useful for members and time-saving for staff.
If you want to maximise the time people spend in your workspace, you have to make it comfortable for them. Ergonomic furniture that’s geared to suit modern working habits and preferences is the best way of doing that. Powered sit-stand desks are a particularly valuable addition, with studies showing that they can reduce tiredness and injury, and increase productivity in the workplace.
Venture X are a great example to take inspiration from in this regard. Every workstation in both of their London workspaces is equipped with an electric sit-stand desk and ergonomic Herman Miller chair.
To remain competitive over the next decade, workspaces need to adapt to the market’s evolving demands. And, right now, that demand revolves around live-work destinations that offer more than just a space to work.
Next-level amenities might seem superficial at first glance, but they take a leading role in the transformation of a workspace from ‘good enough’ to ‘excellent’. Get ahead of the pack by upgrading your workspace’s value proposition with better features and facilities, and you’ll be rewarded with continued relevance in a changing market.
If you are considering upgrading your office or flexspace and are looking for advice, then get in touch and see how we can help. As part of our Placemaking offer, we can assist with full Interior Design services and advice on selecting and sourcing the key amenities for your property.
Credit - Spaces to Places