With many businesses transitioning to a hybrid working model or implementing more collaborative working practices, the traditional functions of warehousing units are increasingly less relevant as more adaptable uses become prevalent.

Martin O'Rourke

Martin O’Rourke

Faced with stiff competition and cost-of-living challenges, companies are now demanding more from their warehouse space. Such space now needs to work harder for the occupier by offering high-quality facilities that not only help occupiers’ growth ambitions, but also support employees’ wellbeing and overall productivity.

Warehouse space in the past has unfortunately been viewed as cheap and low-quality, with little thought given to amenities or interior aesthetics. However, modern warehouses increasingly need to combine office and warehouse operations in one, flexible workspace.

Business parks can provide value by giving companies the chance to focus all of their productivity in one building, which can reduce transport costs and ensure staff can interact with one another face to face rather than via email or over the phone.

Business parks also tend to have another advantage over traditional industrial estates: amenities. Many parks now provide cafés and gyms and even host events at lunchtime and outside work hours. Having such facilities and activities on site helps to create a positive workplace culture and boostsmemployee wellbeing.

Birchwood Park

Birchwood Park

Locating warehouses in remote areas that have poor bus and rail networks often creates problems for employers. For example, they may only be able to attract staff who have access to their own vehicles, which could exclude some groups such as recent graduates.

It can also have a negative effect on a firm’s ESG commitments if the majority of staff can only travel to work by car.

Our business park – Birchwood Park – is in the heart of the North West and overcomes these issues as it is in an area with good transport links, making it easy to access talent pools in areas such as Warrington, Liverpool and Manchester. The park also provides a free-to-use shuttle bus service, linking the park to Birchwood rail station and shopping centre to ensure employees without a car can still travel to work.

Aesthetics have also become an increased priority in the industrial space. Businesses want to invest in really inviting, visually engaging spaces. A place of work with state-of-the-art technology, onsite security and office space built to a high specification all helps to improve the wellbeing of staff coming into work. Greater workplace wellbeing has been shown to improve workplace productivity, increasing the mood of employees at work and reducing sick days.

Ultimately, warehouses need to be modernised to include all of the benefits expected of a standard white-collar office, ensuring warehouse staff get the most out of the location and employers reap the rewards of giving their staff a better workplace setting.

Martin O’Rourke is commercial director of Birchwood Park in Warrington