What do you want from your employer? Or perhaps the better question is: what do you expect of it?
It wasn’t so long ago that the answer was not much on either score. As far as the office environment went (there was no ‘workspace’): a comfortable chair, a desk by a window ideally, working toilets, access to a toaster and kettle… if you were a journalist, an indoor smoking area and proximity to a cheap pub.
Not anymore. These days, even in publishing where the ethos used to be ‘treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen’, things have changed. Now, it’s all free fruit and healthy snacks, fancy coffee machines and hip breakout areas with foosball tables. Anyone in the designated outside smoking area will probably be vaping.
The likes of Google and WeWork have a lot to answer for – and not just in terms of our transformed workplaces. We also expect all manner of perks and incentives as part of our basic package. If we are not offered them, we’ll take our services elsewhere. I almost miss the bad old days when you considered yourself lucky if you got 25 days holiday and your home-made sarnie wasn’t nicked from the whiffy work fridge.
That’s publishing, though. As the companies that made the cut in our latest Best Places to Work in Property survey attest, property is another ball game altogether. You never had it that bad and now, you’ve never had it so good. In addition to generous remuneration packages and holiday entitlements, many of the companies featured offer an eye-watering array of benefits, from free yoga sessions, discounts on clothing and tech and regular cultural events to free skiing trips and lifestyle allowances to encourage employees to take on new activities outside work. They pretty much all offer flexible working and a lot also go the extra mile to motivate staff with bonuses, training courses and careers support.
Do employees need all this? Probably not. Do they expect it? In property, probably yes, and a good thing too. Offering such benefits not only enables employers to attract and retain talent, it also helps modernise the industry, making it appealing to a more diverse talent pool. So congratulations to all those who made the list of Best Places to Work in Property and thank you for joining us at the Property Awards last month to take a well-deserved bow.
One of their inspirations, WeWork, could be taking to a larger stage shortly. The decacorn – a company valued at more than $10bn – confirmed last week that it had filed confidential IPO papers. The fact that, by its own admission, it is unlikely to make a profit any time soon does not exactly inspire me to crack open the piggy bank and invest in shares in the company, even if I were allowed. Property Week readers are not convinced either. In our poll last week, we asked: ‘Will WeWork’s IPO prove successful?’ A whopping 71% said: ‘No – it will never reach SoftBank’s valuation’.
Occupiers love it, but given the scale of its losses and that it has been valued at $47bn (£36bn), a cool 12 times the £3bn stock market valuation of Regus owner IWG, it will take a lot to win over investors.