Presented By: HqO
HqO Shares How Creating Office Destinations Can Incentivize Employees to Return
The concept of establishing places as attractive destinations has generally been the province of the hospitality sector. But with so much uncertainty around the new culture of office — which nowadays often includes avoiding it altogether — office landlords are taking a page or two from hospitality with amenities that seek to establish formerly staid and practical offices as places that are more desirable to spend time in than one’s own home.
This was the topic of a Nov. 15 webinar hosted by Commercial Observer Partner Insights and presented by HqO, titled “Earning Back the Commute.” The discussion featured insights from Annmarie Anderson, workplace experience manager at HqO; Dan Berg, events specialist at HqO; and Steve Robins, director of product marketing at HqO.
Robins kicked off the event by talking about how office landlords need to begin thinking about their buildings in a whole new way.
“What if you could tip the scales by providing different options for places where people can eat — not only in your building, but outside of your building, really helping to connect people to other locations?” Robins asked. “What if you could provide experiences and spaces that help people to really collaborate together in the office? What if you could provide places where people can do their workouts with the convenience of being in the office instead of having to drive to another facility? Then, helping people manage this entire experience through the convenience of a mobile app. That’s really what we’re talking about today — an experience that helps tip the scale so there’s more reason to actually be in the office.”
Robins noted that the office now has to be considered an “experience business.” In the “flight to quality” so many in CRE are discussing these days, this is what “quality” means.
“What does better space look like? It’s a space that’s very service-oriented,” said Robins. “That’s going beyond the delivery of services to include full-on experiences or events, such as the way you’re greeted coming into the building. Thinking about the building from a very different perspective will be what ultimately drives people back into your building.”
Panelists then discussed the importance of tenant engagement.
“We’re finding that focusing on engagement through experience helps tenants and their employees create community, optimize tenant satisfaction, and maximize their productivity,” said Anderson. “Our goal has been to surprise and delight with events, utilities and experiences that everyone in a building can interact with, whether in the physical office or anywhere around the world.”
“It’s so important that we help ease folks back into the office by creating a fun and welcoming environment,” added Berg. “Your environment is unique, as is every opportunity to engage your tenants and their employees. Determine what experiences you want to create that best activate your space while keeping the needs and desires of the right people in mind. Engagement is continuous.”
Berg noted that the key to engagement is often not any one event, but an ongoing calendar of events that over time makes tenants regard the office as a destination beyond just work.
“One event may bring people back into the office for a day, but consistent on-site events or monthly giveaways will better build community, and help people develop a sense of connectivity to your building space,” said Berg. “Engagement is not one size fits all. A variety of events, programs and content should be explored.”
When developing a slate of events or other amenities, Berg said that tenant feedback is crucial, and can ensure that the slate of extras appeals directly to the right audience.
“Engagement is creating meaningful experiences by listening to and responding to your audiences in real time,” Berg said. “Your tenants and their employees value being heard, and enjoy the experiences even more knowing that they are customized for them.”
Berg noted that HqO has made successful use of online wellness services, such as yoga and Pilates classes, massage services and meditation sessions. Anderson added that one of their most popular programs has been a weekly trivia game with prizes.
“We create regular fun moments throughout the week, and then monthly grand prizes that reward multiple plays,” said Anderson. “We also create some surprising and delightful moments by having different giveaways each month and curating local deals, perks and discounts that support the businesses in our immediate community.”
Anderson said that in creating community events, they reach into a slew of different areas and considerations including mental, physical, financial, health and wellness, entertainment, lifestyle, perks and local deals, professional and personal development, and charity. The company releases content calendars every month along with an annual calendar of events.
Keeping events hyper-local is also important, said Anderson.
“We found that making sure that local happenings take place within a very small radius of the workplace allows your tenants’ employees to easily take advantage of them with their colleagues and families,” she said. “Then, even hybrid employees are part of the community, because they can connect with these. They can plan ahead for their time in the office, and also can participate in some of our virtual programming.”
Of course, the greatest events in the world won’t matter if tenants don’t know about them. To this end, Robins discussed having the right sort of delivery mechanism to ensure your messages are reaching their intended targets.
“The first part is having a mobile app where everybody can do everything they need to manage that workplace experience, and a platform that provides the content and helps workplace experience managers actually manage what’s happening,” said Robins. “The next piece is execution. And execution starts with targeted audiences, promoting content, and the ability to do reservations, alerts and reminders that let people know about an event that’s coming up.”
The app also allows for measurement — the ability to know how many people are using the different resources and amenities you’re offering. This allows companies to make improvements on an ongoing basis.
Doing all of this in a thoughtful manner will be ideal in helping make your office property as appealing as can be, and helping to draw people back to the office.