NW in 2019 | Make ‘community’ your watchword

Throughout December, women from across the property industry will be putting forward their views on topics set to shape the sector in the next 12 months. First up, Ciara Keeling, chief executive of Bruntwood Works, explores the future of the office. 

By 2020 millennials will make up half the global workforce – this shifting demographic is prompting cultural changes which have real implications for how our workspaces are curated, delivered and managed.

It’s widely accepted that offering four walls and wi-fi is no longer enough. Motivated by work/life balance and experiences, we have a generation that want flexible, collaborative work environments on demand with outstanding wellness, retail and leisure facilities right on their doorstep.

Generation Y wants to feel at home at work. As such, community and wellbeing are the linchpins to our evolving workspaces and the areas which promise to drive the most interesting changes in property.

This is spurring a real evolution in how workspaces are evolving, with office space being viewed in a much more holistic way, which incorporates elements like wellbeing and productivity, which would traditionally have fallen within firms’ in-house HR or operations function.

The commercial property market is innovating and adapting in line with these bigger social trends and as we head into 2019, the concept of community and how this can be fostered and nurtured in a workspace environment is becoming increasingly important.

Now, more than ever, developers need to be culturally aligned with their customers, to create environments that enable people to grow in both a commercial and personal sense. A greater focus on mental health and wellbeing has heightened requirement for positive, productive working environments that enable collaboration and a sense of shared social purpose.

Property owners and managers increasingly need to create environments which enable human connections to form by ensuring the right amenities are in place, or developing activities which enable people to feel part of something bigger. Creating positive links with the wider community, local charities or cultural organisations add richness to people’s daily workspace experience – boosting wellbeing and productivity.

Neo Roof Terrace

Roof terrace at Bruntwood’s Neo

Amenity and design help community and wellbeing. Shared spaces need to be curated with purpose to encourage and enable social interaction. At workspaces in Manchester including Trafford House, Union, and Neo our shared spaces include community features with lounges, roof terraces and art installation areas. We’re also focusing on ensuring biophilia in the design of our spaces – providing people with access to sunlight, fresh air and plants, especially in our more urban locations.

Facilities to enable wellbeing are also key. Many of our buildings offer dedicated wellness suites. In Trafford House, our serviced space customers can access a programme of virtual fitness classes in a dedicated sports suite with on-site wellbeing sessions, while at our Riverside building, Form Gym is offering studio classes to customers across the Bruntwood community.

Engagement and connection are particularly important; vibrant events programmes create opportunities for networking and collaborations to spark and we’re increasingly exploring introducing new partnerships and services which help to engender community and create locations with a real sense of place and identity. Our recent partnership with entrepreneurial business support services provider Enterprise Nation will now provide a range of services to our customers via its membership platform – helping to support and grow their businesses.

At Bruntwood Works, we’re also exploring different operational models, which could enable our customers to take advantage of the facilities, amenities and activities in neighbouring Bruntwood Works buildings; giving people access to an even greater range of amenities, retail, and leisure options – and effectively creating bigger, better-connected urban communities based within and around workspaces.

The North West in 2019 series features guest contributors looking ahead to next year and will be published throughout December. Interested in taking part? Email a synopsis to jessica@placenorthwest.co.uk

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