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Choosing the right office to invest in is not the straightforward pick it once was. Today’s employees, businesses and office tenants are now more complex than they once were and this has altered their demands and expectations. So, what now drives the demand for office buildings?
Businesses and their employees now desire a more streamlined commute to work. The key lesson from a study¹ into employee satisfaction found that for employers transport links are important – because an easy commute will increase employee satisfaction and engagement – and this translates into better productivity and a better bottom line.
A recent business services survey² found that what employees most want is for their office to be near home, but that if this isn’t possible, then they want a seamless commute.
In theory, open plan, modern and airy spaces with endless scope for teamwork and collaboration can make us all more creative and productive. Whether or not you believe that contemporary open plan, zoned work spaces, or the old-fashioned individual cubicle or office is the more efficient, it seems that the real answer to what works best lies in flexibility. In other words, a flexible office design should have a layout which balances employees’ desire for collaboration, with the ability to find privacy to complete tasks when necessary.
Another factor which has a serious impact on employee wellbeing is the quality of the air and natural light in an office. These factors have been found to out-rank everything when it comes to workplace wellness³. Proximity and exposure to natural light is particularly beneficial, but even the colour of artificial lighting can make a difference.
Once considered to be factors entirely unconnected with work, health and wellness have grown in importance as part of a more holistic understanding of wellbeing. Many of the amenities employees expect are tied to improving their health and wellbeing. An additional element of the link between work and health and wellbeing, is the desire of employees to be able to walk, cycle or run to work. As a result it is becoming common place for office buildings to provide ‘end of trip’ facilities where employees can change, shower and store their bikes and fitness equipment.
So what does this mean for investors? In general terms, newer buildings are more likely to have been designed with natural light and better services in mind – however, older buildings which have been refurbished by a diligent landlord who understands tenant and employee expectations of the space, can be equally as good.
In addition to the quality of the property, the experience and track record of the manager, is crucial. Modern buildings may have some of the layout and amenities that employees favour, but older buildings can sometimes represent good value if they can be refurbished to a comparable standard.
An office property is more than what’s inside its walls. Tenants also consider offices by the neighbourhood of conveniences that surround them. Where a tenant is located may not be just about work – the ability of employees to undertake other aspects of their life is also crucial. Selecting office investments that are surrounded by substantial amenities that provide a variety of services and opportunities for community interaction can go a long way to helping employers (tenants) maintain a happy and productive workforce.