James Massey, managing director of Facilities Management at MRI Software, says FM teams need to satisfy a growing expectation of ‘hotel-style’ amenities among office workers.
There is little doubt that hybrid working is here to stay in the wake of the pandemic. But in 2023, the offer of hybrid working alone is not enough to get people into the office where face-to-face collaboration, information-sharing, learnings, mentoring and the development of the right company culture flourish – especially among young people.
Companies are looking for ways to make their offices into spaces that work better for staff.
Companies are looking for ways to make their offices into spaces that work better for staff and entice people back into the office for vital in-person interactions – and it is a factor that Facilities Management teams need to keep in mind as 2023 progresses. What will emerge is a reshaped workplace that will impact how FM teams manage, maintain, clean and secure offices and other work sites.
Companies are looking to shape workplaces that attract and retain the very best people to the organisation. This aim is particularly critical where younger employees are concerned, with a global Deloitte survey in May 2022 showing that some 46% of Gen Zers and 45% of Millennials reported feeling burned out due to their work environment. The upshot is many companies need to reinvent the workplace to meet the expectations of the people they want to employ in future.
Increasingly, ‘hotel-style’ amenities and user-friendly work tools are emerging as a key part of the employer playbook for winning over new and existing staff and enticing employees back into the office, according to recent research commissioned by MRI Software. In fact, the research showed that almost two-thirds (64%)nowlook for amenities such as social spaces, outdoor areas, onsite dining, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and flexible work facilities – making them crucial for employers to draw and keep talent in the post-pandemic world.
Survey shows the power of amenities for the modern workforce
The research, based on a survey of 6,000+ consumers in the US, UK and Australia, revealed that when it comes to office amenities, employees still look at the fundamentals: air conditioning, network connectivity, and free parking were the amenities most looked for, with 40%-50% looking for these.
The survey, however, unveiled a second tier of compelling amenities highlighting the need for flexible and creative use of space. Survey respondents reported looking for ‘hotel-style’ features that enhance the environment to make it more appealing and welcoming. These types of amenities include:
- facilities and areas for socialising (28%)
- onsite café/cafeteria/restaurant (28%)
- outside space/green space (26%)
- a gym (21%)
- changing and shower facilities (15%)
- and bicycle storage (13%)
A third crucial tier that emerged in the survey consists of technology-enabled amenities that boost their efficiency and collaboration in the hybrid working world, including flexible infrastructure such as:
- hotdesking, bookable meeting rooms, and break-out meeting spaces (24%)
- smart conferencing tools (15%)
- and 24/7 access (19%)
The survey results show that the younger the employee, the more likely they want all these emerging types of space-enhancing amenities. It also revealed that, overall, these second and third tiers of amenities could make a huge difference in the recruitment and retention of staff, making them vital to finding skilled people and encouraging them to stay. The survey showed:
- Over a third (34%) of respondents see amenities as crucial factors after the nature of the job itself
- 19% said they are “critical” to deciding whether to work at a job or not
- 11% said, “If an employer doesn’t have a lot of these things, I’m not interested.”
Remaking the office to meet the needs of a hybrid workforce
Why is the office important anyway when people want to work at home? Well, the survey found that most workers, in fact, want the flexibility to go into the office part or even all the time. Only 15% of respondents want to work at home every day – and that figure is skewed by the fact that over a quarter (26%) of those aged 55 and up want to work at home every day, while just 10% of those under 25 want to do so.
Indeed, the survey showed that a third (33%) of respondents want to alternate between home and some type of office set-up, while 38% prefer to work in a formal office or a flexible/co-working space – or a combination of those.
These findings make clear that as age increases, so does the preference for homeworking. This result is likely due to a combination of older workers being established in their careers and having more physical space at home in which to work. Younger workers prefer a combination of environments that include homeworking, flexible office space and, in many cases, dedicated office space.
… hybrid working is leading many organisations to rethink the workplace, as most people want the flexibility to combine work-from-home with in-office options.
Deploying technology for the evolving office
The MRI research demonstrated that hybrid working is leading many organisations to rethink the workplace, as most people want the flexibility to combine work-from-home with in-office options. What’s more, it indicated that younger employees specifically are being enticed by hotel-style office amenities and user-friendly work tools. Many businesses are looking to change the physical nature of their offices – with many creating shared and communal facilities requiring a new approach to cleaning, maintenance, and security by FM teams.
PropTech tools, such as booking systems, sensors, desk screens and mobile apps, help companies to understand and manage the individual office user experience and boost efficiency. Similarly, landlords can use these types of technologies to reshape workspaces and facilities to meet the changing needs of their commercial tenants. These technologies give many workplaces a very different structure and feel, which will continue to evolve. FM teams have to evolve themselves to reflect and deal with these changes.
FM teams themselves are adopting more digital technologies that signal when equipment needs to be maintained or upgraded – or even simply when a shared space or screen needs to be cleaned for the next user. Sensor- and data-informed actions are increasingly replacing fixed-calendar approaches to maintenance and upgrades. Overall, using digital tools and smart data to understand the needs of operators and occupiers better enables facilities managers to make smart decisions and excel in the face of changing requirements.