Space as a service
Auckland Office Workplace – Feburary 2021
Spatial fundamentals in the office workplace market have undergone transformational change with long-term fixed agreements being reviewed and revised to become more innovative with more inherently flexible arrangements between landlords and tenants.
The models finding most traction today are the “core + flex” or “hub and spoke” templates which emphasise more personal, malleable and tech-centric solutions for companies and build on the proven strengths of the co-working framework.
Director Auckland Commercial and Industrial
Lloyd Budd, Bayleys’ director Auckland Commercial & Industrial, says recognising the critical role that the right workplace can play in enabling connection, fostering innovation, and nurturing company culture, can’t be underestimated in a company’s business plan.
“Moving to a more flexible office spatial solution requires a change in mindset as there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, but the options are exciting if you are prepared to delve into the possibilities.
“The changes we are seeing in the office leasing market today will continue to ripple out as businesses reassess their space needs based on activity, staff workstyle preferences, availability of physical space and budgetary factors.”
Budd says a recent Forbes article named the next-generation office space model that bends and moulds to an occupier’s individual needs as “enterprise flex” with a focus on efficiency, agility, and customisation.
“Essentially this is office space with a fixed component at its core, combined with more distributed fit-for-purpose offshoot space that draws on the best of the co-working model,” he says.
Budd says in the enterprise model, the landlord is more hands-on in providing customised fitouts, a high level of amenity, fluid space availability should the occupier need to spread out or contract at any given time and bundled reception/administrative services.
“Faced with the prospect of churned space under more traditional leasing models, the core and flex arrangement has inherent value for landlords and encourages collaboration between the building owner and its occupiers.”
Some of the structural shifts we’re seeing in the workplace today were already well-advanced pre-pandemic, but the hand that 2020 dealt escalated those transformations and it’s happening all around the world – across the board.
In the UK, global corporate Deloitte has committed to occupying 3,250sqm of flexible office workspace in Manchester, partnering with global workspace provider WeWork to cater to its now-800-strong team thanks to strategic growth and new business lines.
This space will also be pliable enough to absorb further growth as Deloitte in Manchester looks to increase its office headcount by 25 percent in the next three years with management saying the WeWork space can best support the needs of its people and clients as the business grows in the northwest region.
WHERE PEOPLE CAN THRIVE
NZX-listed Precinct Properties is the largest owner and developer of premium inner-city real estate in Auckland and Wellington.
It is behind the $1 billion Auckland Commercial Bay office and retail development which has five connected office towers, including the PwC Tower.
Precinct’s chief executive, Scott Pritchard believes in open communication channels with its clients and in providing the best amenities and service available.
“While we’re not really finding that there is material contraction amongst Precinct’s client base as a direct result of COVID-19, it is reinforcing the value of flexibility and we have been working with our clients for many years to provide amenity and adaptable spaces,” he says.
Pritchard says the Auckland CBD remains a magnet for astute corporates and its Commercial Bay development reinforces the city centre as a vibrant place for people to come to work each day.
Precinct extends its office accommodation offering through its flexible office and co-working company Generator, which pitches to the corporate, innovation and creative sectors with buildings in the hotspots of Britomart and the Wynyard Quarter, as well as new meeting suite facilities at Commercial Bay.
“Precinct, along with Generator, can deliver the all-important flexibility that some clients are chasing, and we can offer inspirational office spaces with events, dynamic community and good old-fashioned hospitality while being a catalyst for change and growth,” says Pritchard.
“The majority of Precinct assets feature, or are connected to, retail and cafes which I see as central to fostering a community where our clients benefit from premium real estate, world-class service and being immersed in an environment that offers amenities, hospitality and convenience.”
Pritchard says some key learnings have come from Covid-19.
“The main one being the importance of providing more than just office space, creating an environment where employees want to come to work and businesses can work more effectively.
COUNCIL NOW A MORE ADAPTABLE ORGANISATION
Head of Corporate Property Group Services at Auckland Council, Rod Aitken, says like other large organisations, one of its biggest challenge post-COVID is getting a full handle on the amount of office space required to support its workforce in an environment where increased remote and flexible working is becoming the norm.
Aitken says Auckland Council had already been evolving its property model in response to these new ways of working and in doing so, has created its own co-working environment across the region.
“Auckland Council has progressively retired desktop personal computers and transitioned to staff laptops and mobile phones with wireless/cloud connections, rather than requiring staff to be tethered to the desk,” he says.
“This process has seen the council transitioning staff to fewer more-efficient building hubs over time in the CBD, in the north at Albany, the west at Henderson and in the south at Manukau.
Aitken says this efficient hub and spoke office accommodation strategy enables staff to work flexibly across the region, and, in the process, supports a more collaborative and adaptable organisation that can work closer to its customers.
PRODUCTIVITY IS KEY
Co-working space provider IWG, which has the brands Spaces, Bizdojo and Regus under its diverse portfolio across 120 countries, offers customers workspace options with a wide choice of designs, fitouts, locations, and building types.
In Auckland, IWG has space available in 12 locations where corporate occupiers can personalise space to fit their brand, and scale space needs up and down when required.
In taking care of utilities, tech’ and cleaning, IWG says its clients can get on with that they do best – focusing on their business and on being productive.
Alexander Sykes, IWG’s New Zealand country manager, says the pandemic crisis will undoubtedly be the biggest catalyst – since the advent of digital – to fundamentally change the way companies work, and the way people want to work for those companies.
“Globally, flexible workspace accounts for just two percent of the overall office space and in 2019, a global real estate company predicted that this would rise to 30 percent by 2030.
“More and more companies and employees are seeking space in suburban locations and our portfolio is well-represented in both the largest metropolitan areas and the smaller towns and cities.
This fluidity that corporates are increasingly working into their operating models is helping cement a step change in the office sector.
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