In the past year or two, there has been a change in both the space needs and the purpose of companies’ premises. In my discussions with customers who are considering a site move, it has become very clear what today's companies want from their new premises and what motivates their decisions to move.
The role of the office has changed – this much is clear. Once, it was generally agreed that people went to the workplace to do their jobs – but now, it's often the case that people go to the office to do certain activities. People go there for social interaction and meetings – i.e., because of other people.
Now that this new way of working has begun to take hold, many companies are contemplating a site move.
The difference is noticeable. A little over a year ago, companies were aware that they needed new premises, but they hadn't quite formed an idea of what sort of space they needed, or how much. Over the past year, the needs have become more defined, and people now know how to communicate them precisely.
1. The workplace as a place to meet others
People come to the office to meet others, so a company's premises need to be supportive of communal activity. Many companies want their offices to have one large meeting space, a kind of lounge, where their entire staff can fit at once. The aim is to enliven day-to-day activity at the office. Of course, there is also a need for more relaxed spaces where people can converse freely. Open-plan working spaces are no longer needed as much as they once were, which leads to savings in the total amount of space. Companies now want the lounge, and other more relaxed spaces, to be places of impromptu encounters rather than just pre-organized meetings.
2. The company culture is reflected, and grows, in the office
Company culture is a frequent topic of concern nowadays, and it is thought that company culture is not sufficiently reinforced in online meetings. At the root of this is the challenge of building employee loyalty, not only with new employees but also more established ones. The hope is that employees will stay with their company, become committed, gain a sense of “we”-culture, and become enthusiastic about their work – and so, various means are used to attract them to come into the office. The stronger the company culture is, the more loyal the team will be. In its way of working and team spirit, a company's office shows what life at that company is like. A company’s office is where its brand lives. People today also often want to give their companies a new "boost", freshening them up with a new look and new ways of working. This trend is reflected in (for example) the increased use of work environment consultants.
3. Space is needed for withdrawal, too
Covid has brought about a lasting change in how many companies work. A great many old offices are no longer operational now. Many businesses now have more open working space than they need, or the premises are poorly adapted to their needs overall. There is now a widespread search for spaces that meet the newer needs. Offices now need a great deal more space for remote meetings and concentration-intensive work. The term “withdrawal space” has come to be used for describing such spaces. Plenty of conference rooms are still needed – people do come to the office to meet with others, after all. But there is a push to turn at least some conference rooms into shared-use spaces, because the need for conference rooms varies so much from day to day. Requests for better communal spaces and well-functioning bike locker systems are also common, and people still want places to park their cars as well.
4. Flexible spaces for changing needs
Though companies may be good at defining their current needs, it remains difficult for many companies to assess what the future situation will be. The problem with today’s space needs is the variable rate of use. The desire for open space has significantly decreased: the usage rate is generally estimated at 30–60%. By contrast, the need for withdrawal spaces (as defined above) has gone noticeably up. But the lounge still needs to be big enough to fit all employees! Terms such as "multi-purpose space", "zone", and "shared-use space" are currently heard a lot in people's descriptions of the new space needs. When companies discuss flexibility in this context, the same questions continue to arise: How much will the company grow in the coming years? How much room do the premises have to grow? And what if things take a turn in the opposite direction, and less space is needed? In times of uncertainty, people often want flexibility in rental agreements as well.
5. A workplace should have good services
Services, ease of use, and everyday luxury are key factors in attracting people to come to the office. People want good services at their workplace in order to make it easier to do their jobs, but they also hope that these services will help them with their personal day-to-day affairs. We Land, which is due to be completed next in the Ruoholahti area of Helsinki, is one site that has taken services to a very high level, and is sure to be appreciated by many. Employees will have an automated package pick-up station for online orders, and access to the We Land app. There will be a concierge available to handle everyone's requests – surpassing what many people are used to! The "Charlie" service will handle lobby services, customer events, transportation, replacing lightbulbs and batteries, adjusting temperature, organizing dining service, surprising the team, ordering carwashes, and getting tickets for events. At We Land, it will be easy to thrive: a dedicated app for ordering services, an automated package pick-up station, a smart elevator, and high-quality restaurant and cafe services, all accompanied by a seaside view.
Come see what We Land in Ruoholahti has to offer!