Three experts give their tips on strategies for finding or adapting the ideal post-pandemic workplace

Flexible workspace

In a post-Covid-19 world, working out a strategy for finding or tailoring a top-notch workplace is more important than ever.

Property Week asked Will Kinnear, director of flexible workspace consultant HEWN, Benjamin Willmore, founder of YoooServ, and Richard Morris, sales and marketing director at proptech firm technologywithin, for their top tips on designing, launching and reviewing a new workspace.

Location, location, location

Location is still the most important factor, according to Kinnear.

He says there is macro-location and micro-location, and office providers should decide whether they want to compete in an established market or introduce flexible workspace to a town.

“The answers to this come down to your offer and who you are trying to attract,” Kinnear says.

“To tempt people out of their home, you need to create the right offer and environment in the right location.”

When entering into a lease or management agreement, Kinnear says workspace providers should pay attention to the deal structure and the implications of each element of the signed agreement for the space. What sounds agreeable today might affect operators’ offer and services in five years, so he advises them to always get sound advice.

Technology and connectivity

Technology has become a core part of any quality workplace planning, says Willmore, and in flexible workplaces, it exists to make life easier.

“It drives efficiencies for you as the operator but also the user,” he says. “It’s a mix of practical support along with luxury.”

Morris says connectivity is everything in flexible workspaces. “The infrastructure and the bandwidth need to be right in order to cater for multiple users. To install this takes eight to 12 weeks and, depending on the building, can involve some remedial works to integrate the right cabling.”

Morris adds that technology is much harder to retrofit, so it is vital to have a technology strategy that sits alongside project management when opening a new space. “We’re developing an internet of things workstream that will help drive efficiencies from day one,” he says.

Design and brand-building

It is important to design a space that is practical but also inspiring, says Willmore. “Our spaces are reflective of who we are and our ethos,” he notes. “Take inspiration from the building you’re in and the community around you.”

Understanding what you stand for is more important than the logo, says Kinnear, who notes that many workspace firms “over-brand their space”. Willmore adds that informing people about your core service is central to building a brand: “The brand needs to be replicable, not just in terms of space but service.”

Creating the environment

Kinnear explains that in a world of Teams and Zoom meetings, “your product and service are now more important than just four walls”.

He adds that service is especially important for smaller occupiers and users who want community and a sense of belonging: “This will attract and retain your clientele, as well as ensuring that their employees feel comfortable and have a sense of wellbeing.”

For many businesses, things only become clearer once they have opened or launched – only then do they understand more about their customers.

“You need to learn why they are with you, how you can keep them happy and what’s also turning others away,” says Kinnear. “Constantly understanding occupiers’ requirements will help you maintain a relevant and in-demand product.”