Creating outstanding workplaces is something that the property industry knows plenty about.

Most of the time, companies do this on behalf of their clients, but at Property Week’s awards to celebrate the Best Places to Work in Property, businesses that provide best-in-class places to work for their own employees were given a chance to shine.

Fifty-two companies, which were assessed across metrics such as work environment, company culture, leadership, training and development and pay and benefits, gathered at The Brewery in the City of London to celebrate their achievements and debate what really makes a ‘best’ place to work.

Green & Black’s founder Jo Fairley chaired the event and inspired the audience with a speech about her experiences running the successful chocolate brand, which she founded with her husband in 1991.

Running a business that employs a relatively high proportion of women, Fairley said that allowing her staff to work flexibly was a key ingredient in the success of Green & Black’s. “My understanding of the demands on my team’s time was repaid 100 times over by their loyalty,” she said.

She also noted the increased emphasis businesses were placing on employee engagement and social responsibility.

“One of the things that people are really looking for is meaning – both in their life and in their work,” she said. “They want to work for companies that behave honestly and that encourage them to give back.”

Room for improvement

There was also a lively panel debate involving Liz Hamson, editor of Property Week; Ann Marie Aguilar, director of operations Europe at International WELL Building Institute; Damion Burrows, director at Darling Associates Architects; Julie Rees, managing director at GN2; Tushar Agarwal, co-founder and chief executive of Hubble; and Amanda Nurse, co-founder and director at Carterwood, who discussed what it really takes to create a best-in-class company and how workplaces in the UK compare with those across the world.

“The UK is definitely moving forward, but there are some other countries that are setting really great benchmarks,” said Aguilar, pointing to the US and the Netherlands as global leaders in the field.

Best companies 145

The panel debate provided lively insights on what makes a great place to work

Although the list shows that plenty of companies are already getting it right, the panel agreed there was still room for improvement. Rees said the property industry had a unique opportunity to really drive forward best practice.

“Property is a sector where you can promote collaboration in the workplace across the generations,” she said. “It is a really energised industry where you get people from the ages of 16 to 75 and probably older.”

Following a champagne reception and three-course dinner, the companies that scored top marks against each of the eight individual metrics assessed by Best Companies Group were announced. Then, each of the 52 companies that made the full list took to the stage to have their achievements recognised.

It was truly an event to remember. Congratulations once again to all.