Collaboration Space Offers New Amenity Opportunities
Post-pandemic changes are just the beginning.
After a few COVID-19 pandemic years, corporate office parks have lost much of their attraction in some regions of the country. The remote workforce has figured out how to be effective at home, and many tenants are continuing to offer opportunities for remote work at some level - even if they’re bringing employees back to the office space.
According to Pew Research, only 7% of Americans worked remotely in 2010. Global Workplace Analytics believes that 25-30% of the workforce is now remote, and N.F. Mendoza (contributor at TechRepublic.com) expects the amount to rise to 36 million by 2025. These stats leave property ownership groups wondering if corporate campuses can still be relevant in our new reality.
The good news for commercial real estate is that working from home (WFH) hasn't worked out for everyone. On the positive side, the workday has become more flexible for a better work-life balance, commute times and traffic congestion are reduced, and there’s a strong case for other environmentally friendly benefits. However, challenges like personal distractions, poor home internet connectivity, lost productivity, and decreased human interaction all point to a real need for corporate environments to return. It’s no laughing matter. Employee dining tables aren’t professional meeting spaces. The local coffee shop isn't a permanent replacement for workspaces. Loneliness and depression caused by isolation can’t be fixed with a bi-weekly Zoom meeting of teammates.
Yes, we’re starting to see tenants return to properties in some fashion. Welcome back events are happening regularly as businesses get back to business-as-usual. Food trucks are rolling to office parks to resume breakfast and lunch rotations, having adjusted their expectations of what a good lunch service brings. Property amenities like fitness centers and walking trails show signs of life again.
It’s likely that cafeteria spaces, elevators and mailrooms have been ghost towns. Chances are you’ve ceased all non-essential indoor social activities on campus. You may have reconfigured some of your common spaces to be smaller or more socially distanced, trying to separate people even further.
That’s where we’ve been. So where are we going? What your property does next could have a significant impact on your tenants’ longevity with you or on how you can lease your vacant space.
Repurposing your space may be the key.
Mega co-work spaces like WeWork were very popular pre-pandemic, bringing together hundreds of individual business owners or employees looking for a new way to work. With shared everything (even unassigned workstations), co-working became the way a small company could look bigger, afford fancier office space or better benefits, network, socialize or even recruit. But with COVID, people no longer wanted to be around others. Forget the idea of using a shared desk covered with germs!
But there is something to be learned from the idea of these type spaces. 70 percent of individuals who work in co-working spaces claim they feel healthier because of the atmosphere. The concept of co-working space might inspire the path to a different kind of collaboration space for your property. With a little creativity, YOU can offer tenants something productive that encourages human interaction, and balances engagement with productivity via Collaboration Space.
What’s the difference between co-work space and collaboration space?
Unlike the mega co-work environment, collaboration space brings some of the best of that world on a smaller scale. Co-working's primary advantages include increased productivity, increased socialization, and increased professionalism. Working in a co-working space is more productive since it eliminates the distractions that come with working from home. Employees can focus on what they’re doing and get the most out of the time they’re spending at work. But then when they decide to take a break from their desk, they have shared opportunities for engagement – and your property’s amenities can become part of this balance for your tenants. Even those tenants who allow WFH can offer their employees the benefits of your collaboration space.
While co-work space is for the masses, collaboration space can be just for your tenants. Providing shared, interesting spaces, amenities and opportunities to your tenants can change their attitudes about their office space, and in turn, enhance the value your property offers them.
Consider turning unused office space into “The Hub,” creating a space for tenants from different buildings on the campus to use, socialize and network in new ways. In a Hub, tenants are much more likely to reconnect with coworkers they may have not been with in some time and will meet new people they work in physical proximity to (like the tenant down the hall or in the next building over). This need not be an entire building; convert an empty floor or set up mini-hubs in multiple buildings depending on the layout of your campus. In a world where people are looking to make connections, offering spaces like this are a new kind of amenity that tenants may not even realize they’re looking for.
New types of office amenities matter right now.
So much of the attraction of co-work space is that it fosters a healthy work-life balance. Work isn’t only about the work anymore. Consider these ideas for a new type of amenity inspired by co-working:
- Turn your cafeteria space into a more intimate coffee shop vibe, making it a place tenants want to hang out in.
- Convert un-leased office space into a cool lounge that any tenant can use for mini-meetings or breaktime.
- Turn a small office into a meditation room for tenants to decompress and recenter themselves.
- Supply fun activity spaces for things like puzzles, games, and video gaming.
- Arrange after-work networking meetups in your beautiful lobby so people can connect with each other in a new way.
- Schedule morning outdoor fitness workouts at your fountain and group hikes along your walking trails that bring people together.
- Install basketball hoops, disc golf, or other outdoor sporting areas to encourage fitness, fun and teamwork.
- Use food events to show your tenants you appreciate them. Cater a monthly lunch (giving a food truck in your rotation a successful paid catered event) or bring breakfast biscuits or bagels.
- Install a coffee bar or smoothie station for a quick pick-me-up.
- Host guest speakers to talk about healthy lifestyle choices or other interesting topics that make your property the place to be and grow and learn.
- Connect with local handcraft vendors (visit your local farmers market) to create a convenient shopping market on your property.
- Create a “we” attitude by providing tenants with socially conscious activities to make your community better together.
A little creativity and out-of-the-box thinking can make your property so much more than just a place to work.
How can MOBLZ help you capitalize on your office space?
The real key to success in capturing this creativity for your property is communication. Spreading the word to tenants about what is happening when and what new things are available to them needs to be easy and effective. If the thought of maintaining an event calendar is overwhelming, we have an app for that. If automated alerts would mean your property team doesn’t have to send emails about food truck rotations or campus happenings, we have an app for that. If ensuring that vendors have proper certifications is too time consuming, we have an app for that. The MOBLZ Vendor Certification and Reservation System helps busy property management teams do more.