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Office buildings are gearing up for the return of employees and companies have taken the last year to reimagine the physical workplace.
Tenant experience is about to become the focus of design. Whether they're in the office three or five days a week, office employees will see specific enhancements to help them accomplish those tasks that are more difficult to do remotely. Things like onboarding, team collaboration and mentoring.
The new tenant experience will first be noticed in office lobbies. No longer just transient spaces, the lobby will be where company culture is first introduced. Lobbies are being designed as an extension of the tenant’s workspace and many now include a variety of distinct places in which people can work or socialize.
The healthy workplace
“Lobbies are increasingly viewed as having multipurpose potential for workspace, socialization, lounging and dining," says Tiffany Kalloor of the architecture firm Heofer Wysocki. “Strategically designing a space for flexibility of use is crucial."
Dining options are becoming increasingly important features of the office. In a 2020 office tenant survey conducted by Canadian Real Estate Forums, the majority of respondents indicated that access to different food options is an essential building amenity.
Post-pandemic, landlords see food as a way to keep their current tenants happy and to attract new ones. Providing a variety of food and beverage options is also key to creating a unique tenant experience, and there is a growing demand for new food options to make spaces more inviting. To underscore this point, 37% of tenants said they would choose an independent or boutique coffee shop over a chain outlet.
“If there is not a variety of [canteen and food] offerings people won’t come,” Holly Williamson of architecture firm Nelson Worldwide told the Financial Times. “The better we can make the space, the more people will want to come into the office.”
"The better we can make the space, the more people will want to come into the office."
The healthy workplace is a concept that predates the pandemic. In the wake of COVID-19, workers are making their health a higher priority and office spaces will increasingly support the health and wellbeing of employees.
Companies are embracing touchless technology, improved sanitation and upgraded ventilation systems. However, mental health is also a top priority.
Studies have shown that biophilic design – which incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation, outdoor views and other experiences of the natural world into the built environment – can reduce stress, enhance creativity and improve mental well-being. As well, outdoor work areas situated on balconies, decks, patios or rooftops have been shown to have positive effects and will be in high demand.
Post-pandemic landlords will be espousing the ‘space as a service’ model and are making the upgrades to bring this to life. Landlords are already evolving the traditional leasing model by becoming more accommodating of startups that require shorter, more flexible lease terms especially in this era of softer occupancy rates.
Taking a page out of the co-working playbook, they are adding flex space to their offerings, as well. The pandemic may have changed the way we work forever, and for the better! The offices we return to are going to be better positioned than ever to help employees with collaborative tasks, while supporting their physical and mental health.