CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Corporates prioritising health & wellbeing to attract talent

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GLOBAL companies are moving to prioritise office spaces which enhancing their employees wellbeing, restoring corporate culture in the wake of COVID-19.

According to Knight Frank’s recent survey of 400 global firms, which employ 10 million workers, businesses are placing more emphasis on the importance of their workplaces after a year of restricted access to offices.

“The experience of the past year has focused minds on what offices deliver for firms, and what employees most value in the workplace,” said Lee Elliott, head of global occupier research at Knight Frank.

The research revealed intentions for significant improvements to employee amenities and services, with companies drawing on these features not just for overall wellbeing but to stimulate renewed collaboration and talent attraction.

As far as what these amenities will be 65% of surveyed occupied will introduce on site food and beverage offerings, 47% gym facilities, 46% cycle storage, 45% mental health facilities, including sanctuary spaces and 45% plan to introduce click and collect facilities.

“Real estate is increasingly seen as a strategic tool for meeting corporate objectives, from brand identity and talent attraction to employee wellbeing and achieving Net Zero Carbon or wider sustainability targets,” said Elliott.

90% of occupiers agreed that real estate is a strategic device for businesses, while 49% agreed that corporate brand and image was the main priority their property met.

A smaller but still significant 37% agreed that their reseal estate is a tool for their employees wellbeing, collaboration and the attraction and retention of workers.

“The traditional corporate headquarters will need to adapt to serve new purposes and deliver more services or amenities to employees, with the largest firms putting a higher value on the health, safety and wellbeing of their people.”

The survey found that as many as 25% of global firms will see their corporate headquarters relocate, in order to improve amenities and shift strategies, with 38% confirming it is likely, very likely or decided that they will relocate in the next three years.

With this creating a boost in office market activity, there will be a resulting flight-to-quality, with 92% of firms looking to hold on to or improve the quality of their spaces.

“There is a mood of change in the air. Global firms are looking beyond the pandemic and are focused on how their workplaces can enhance corporate culture and re-engage employees in a new age of agile working,” said William Beardmore-Gray, global head of occupier services and commercial agency at Knight Frank.

30% of firms are intending to increase their total office space in the next three years to meet their envisioned business growth, while in total 65% plan to either grow or stabilise their current space.

The most ambitious occupiers are in the tech sector, with 39% of all those planning to increasing their global footprint over the next three years being within technology, media and telecommunication sectors.

Furthermore, of that 39%, 70% intend to expand their footprint by over 10% of their current size.

“We are seeing a refamiliarization with the office beginning in many big cities around the world. Firms want to give employees the best of both worlds, allowing them to work flexibly, but making their offices the best possible experience, which means delivering higher quality and more engaging workplaces,” added Beardmore-Grey.

47% of those surveyed intend to improve the quality of their space over the next three years, with 46% planning to improve amenities for employees.

55% of occupiers are looking to create more collaborative spaces out of their offices, with 54% looking to introduce desk sharing over the next three years.

“Half of all firms are already planning to reconfigure their real estate portfolios and remodel their workplaces over the next three years to ensure they are providing employees, colleagues and potential new talent with the best spaces to work, learn and thrive,” said Beardmore-Grey.

Of those surveyed, 29% reported their biggest gripe with their landlords as the lack of flexibility and 21% as the lack of innovation in product or service offerings.

However, 60% reported an increase or significant increase in communication with their landlords throughout the entirety of the global pandemic.

“Businesses will gravitate towards offices that offer a more dynamic workplace environment and experience, utilise technology and reduce environmental impact,” concluded Beardmore-Grey.

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