Martin O’Rourke, Commercial Director at Birchwood Park, the largest single-owned out of town business park in the North West, discusses the shifting trends in the ways in which businesses operate, the new expectations from employees, and how businesses can keep up in the future.
THE OUTDATED OFFICE
Over the past 60 years, our expectation of how a traditional office should function and what is should look like has changed dramatically; gone are the days of cubical-style office structures which saw employees work in silo in favour of ‘productivity’, and directors fenced off in private offices of their own. Changes have made way for the favoured open plan office style, designed to improve communication and bonds within the team. As we see the format of our offices shift, so too do we see a desire to conduct business differently. In recent years the concept of co-working has boomed, as a result of more flexible working hours and the rise of freelancers and consultants, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by employees at more traditional companies.
Increasingly creative offices spaces are in demand; chill out zones, socialisation areas and in-office games, plus modern and varied seating arrangements are pushing the traditional ‘four-walled’ office out of the door. That’s why at Birchwood Park we’ve invested a huge amount into the our shared spaces and the break out amenities available to each our occupiers, making sure that no matter what their working arrangement or meeting requirements, they have a choice of fantastic space in which they can work freely and flexibly at the EngineRooms, along with the 401 Hub at our Faraday Street building, plus fantastic outdoor space in courtyard or by the lake to make use of in great weather.
Businesses in 2020 need to ensure they’re moving with the times faster than ever before; creating more favourable office environments and focusing on where they can add extra value in other aspects of the job for their employees will lead to a far happier, and ultimately more productive, workforce. Innovation is key; if a business is to thrive in today’s climate, they not only need to provide the best environment and working practices for their employees, but also place a greater emphasis on wellbeing in the workplace.
Recent research conducted by Birchwood Park has found that despite a clear shift towards better ways of working, 66% of employees still feel companies don’t currently do enough to address mental health issues at work, demonstrating the work still needs to be done by employers. The majority (88%) of respondents felt that even the smallest of changes brought into the work place or in working terms would be beneficial; those surveyed listed more flexible working hours (86%), mindfulness sessions (58%), free fruit and healthy snacks (56%) and more green spaces (41%) as ways in which employers could look to improve the mood and motivation of their teams.
And this is a concept that has been at the very heart of our ethos here at Birchwood Park for over 20 years: delivering more from a building than you’d necessarily expect, as standard. We look to be able to add to the daily lives of our occupiers and their employees through a regular programme of events and socialisation opportunities, dedicated Wellbeing Weeks throughout the year, retaining our green spaces and improving our landscaping in favour of better outdoor break out spaces, discounted gym memberships and free yoga sessions. Every business should enhance their social calendars and provide health and fitness focused initiatives.
THE FUTURE MEANS CHANGE
Change is a word which sometimes scares a business, but shifting towards a more holistic approach to the ways in which they operate should be an exciting one to be embraced. A desirable office environment combined with more flexible working policies have been proven to have benefits to business results too. In fact, recent research has found that a business is viewed as behind the times if they offer no flexible working policy, putting off applications, and that flexible working offered clear benefits to a business, with 78% of workers today stating an increased adoption of flexible working had had a positive impact on their company’s performance and profitability*.
So, with a happier workforce and clear business benefits, what better time than the start of a brand-new decade to embrace change?