The idea that flexible offices in green buildings full of amenities are just for millennials working for start-ups is totally wrong, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Emerging Hotspots Investment Briefing, which was held at MIPIM in Cannes.
‘Millennials started the trend, but baby-boomers have jumped on the bandwagon’, said David Kaiser, Senior Director, Real Estate, WeWork. ‘In our offices 50% of our members are over 30. The shift to a flexible workspace has completely revolutionised the experience people want at work and there is no going back’.
In the same way, start-ups and young tech companies may have been the first to appreciate flexible offices, but big companies have now come on board in a big way.
‘If we look at our membership base, over 30% are what we call enterprise companies, with over 1,000 employees,’ said Kaiser. ‘All corporates now really have to offer something more and a big part of that is office space and a community’.
Silicon Valley and the tech industry started the trend of offering amenities in offices and millennials, who have driven transformation in the workplace, have come to expect anything from gyms and climbing walls to massage chairs, juice bars and sleep pods.
But now the message has spread far and wide. ‘It is definitely not just tech start-ups anymore’, said Rachel Gutter, President, International WELL Building Institute. ‘Every organisation, including the big law firms, have started to offer many of these amenities and investing in more liveable, walkable locations in order to attract talented employees’.
Real estate developers now ‘see themselves as partners to the tenant to attract and retain the best talent’, she said.
It started with the green buildings movement, said Gutter, ‘but at some point we realised that they also have an impact on human health and business performance’. Soft factors have an impact on the bottom line, so companies started paying attention.
Macro-economic trends matter less than they used to when choosing a city location to invest in, said Jarek Morawski, Director, Research and Analysis, Grosvenor: ‘We now need to look differently at micro factors like the neighbourhood, quality of life, health and liveability.’
WeWork succeeded by ‘encouraging people to get to know each other, promoting well-being, offering a lot of services and thinking very carefully about design’, said Kaiser. ‘Our idea is that real estate is a gateway to the community’.
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