We live in a world of connected experiences. We can track the nearest bus or train, avoid highly trafficked roads, and shop for must-have gadgets from our smartphones. We can view customized music playlists sent to us based on our listening preferences, keep tabs on our daily steps and workouts, and plan our days through digital reminders and organizational apps. No matter where we are, we can achieve a multitude of things throughout our day — all thanks to seamlessly intertwined capabilities that are easy to use, and more importantly, easy to enjoy.
So, why should we expect anything different from the workplace?
According to a study by Gettysburg College, we spend about one-third of our lives at work. In order to recreate the same level of convenience we benefit from at home, it’s important for office communities to engage and form relationships with local and on-site retailers in modern and innovative ways. After all, organizations that offer diverse food and beverage options, services such as dry cleaning and daycare, and other as-needed luxuries already fuel our livelihoods. And to no surprise, they’re quickly finding their place in workspaces across the globe.
Keeping Neighborhoods Afloat
Workplace-retail connections are more than a tenant engagement tool, they’re also mutually beneficial. A recent Bloomberg article explains the significant impact that office buildings and the workforce have on the economy:
“Ultimately, remote work done from home will likely account for roughly a fifth (21.3%) of all workdays, compared with just 5% pre-pandemic, according to surveys by economist Nick Bloom and his colleagues. This […] will hit hard at the broader downtown ecosystem of restaurants, cafes, bars, and retail shops that make up the economy of business districts. Bloom and his colleagues estimate that this shift will reduce consumer spending in the CBDs of major cities by roughly 5% to 10% relative to their pre-pandemic baseline, with Manhattan taking the biggest hit — a 13% reduction from pre-pandemic levels.”
Thus, by leveraging retail connections to create more personalized and engaging workplaces, landlords and property teams will be able to highlight an intrinsic value for office buildings that attracts and retains tenants: a rich sense of community. In turn, fully realizing and strengthening these relationships will support the local economy and help businesses flourish in a time of need.
The New Rules of Engagement
As many experts have mused, the workplace needs to be equipped to address health and safety concerns. It also needs to be “destination-worthy” and “hospitality-influenced.” But what does a hospitality-influenced office mean?
“As people return to the office, they are going to have expanded expectations,” writes Forbes contributor Tracy Brower. “And no one knows how to create great experiences like the hospitality industry. Of course, employee experience has always been important, but as the office competes with the home and remote locations, creating experiences that are memorable, authentic, compelling, sensory, and more will determine success in the future of work. They will be fundamental to attracting people back to the office, but also critical to motivating them to join your company, stay at your organization, and engage fully to bring their best to work.”
Since hybrid work models — or those that strike a balance between remote and in-person work — are becoming more ideal, a great starting point for many property teams is integrating flexibility into the workplace. A truly flexible workplace that establishes harmony between digital and physical experiences will be the most efficient way to engage those at home, as well as provide value to those who come into the office and are seeking out everyday conveniences.
The conversation can’t end there. We also need to redefine how we think about building communities.
If the workplace of the future needs to be more hospitable and flexible so it can support tenants and their employees everywhere, then why can’t that support also extend to the on-site and local retailers, vendors, and businesses that we all interacted with in a pre-pandemic world? After all, what is more hospitable than bringing exciting services and experiences directly to your building occupants?
For example, using a popular food platform like Ritual to offer a variety of unique dining experiences to your tenants can go a long way. “By allowing people to have custom ordering with diverse menu options, you’re allowing them to get foods you know they’ll love, save time throughout their day, and maybe even engage in more active conversations with staff or friends,” explains Steve Kelly, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Ritual. “They can spend less time thinking about the technical stuff, and more time just enjoying the moment.”
Curious about connecting your workplace with local retail services? Check out our new industry guide, Connected Retail: How digital retail services and solutions are elevating the workplace and local communities.