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Today’s leading companies demand high-performance workplaces, and this has transformed our relationship with our tenant partners.
In the past, businesses in search of office space defined their needs by a few relatively straightforward technical requirements, and our interaction with them centred around a contract based on a lease agreement.
But today our commercial tenants are looking for something far more complex and elusive than just a floorplate. They want to base themselves in spaces that excite and inspire, that foster health and wellbeing, that enable them to attract and retain the best talent by creating a sense of community, collaboration and creativity.
From us, they need not just another undifferentiated service but a partnership with the common goal of delivering a rewarding workplace experience for their employees.
As one of our Asset Managers, Dawn Wilson is responsible for some of our highest-quality A-grade commercial buildings in Sydney. She says this change in tenant expectations is reflected in the people she speaks with when showing available premises to prospective tenants.
“Acquiring office space is no longer about ‘how much space do you have, and how much is it going to cost’,’’ says Dawn.
“Our customers want to know that a building will promote the values and foster the environment they are trying to create within their companies.’’
The qualities that make for high-performing workplaces are multiple and include leading design, tech enablement, easy access to amenities and retail, sustainability, connected spaces and a sense of community.
But for occupants, this all comes down to one thing, says Dawn.
It is about the productivity of the people who work within that space,’’ she says. “For us as building owners, that means ensuring that the places we create positively impact on their health, their wellbeing, their happiness - that's what's going to drive the performance of our tenants’ businesses.’’
Many of the building features commercial tenants desire are clear-cut and easy to quantify.
These include for example open, column-free floorplates and raised floors that make for more flexible workspaces; high-performance facades that minimise air conditioning costs; amenities that can support high-density staffing ratios, quality end-of-trip facilities and access to natural light and green spaces. But other qualities are more intangible.
“It’s also about the feeling you get when you walk into a building,’’ says Dawn. “What we do is not just about bricks and mortar any more.’’
Dawn’s responsibilities include 333 George Street, Sydney, which comprises 12,500 sqm of premium office space and three floors of statement retail encased in a curved glass façade.
Along with a focus on smart building design and efficiency, a defining central feature of the building is its five levels of cascading rooftop terraces which promote collaboration and improve productivity by providing informal outdoor spaces where people can re-energise.
Tenants include leading international law firm Clyde & Co, and partner Jenni Priestley says the building has proved to be the ideal home for their regional head office.
“We chose 333 George Street after an extensive search for new premises in Sydney,’’ says Jenni.
“With a number of excellent options available to us, we were drawn to this elegant and unique building, five floors of which we are proud to now have as our new home.
“It provides an innovative and productive work environment for employees, clients and visitors alike. 333 George Street has enabled us to create an environment that embraces technology, promotes increased employee productivity and delivers indoor/outdoor meeting areas to encourage workplace collaboration.’’
As people spend more and more time online, we increasingly seek out places where we can connect in real life, and so shared outdoor areas and other ‘third spaces’ where people can engage on a wider social level beyond the office are a major drawcard for tenants.
Brooke Lloyd, a director with our design partners Cox Architecture, says this is part of a wider social trend.
“These days, people want to be able to do everything everywhere, there is this blurring of time and space between home, work and play,’’ says Brooke.
“Outside their tenancies, people are looking for somewhere to meet up, get a great coffee, they want great end-of-trip facilities - the third space and lobby environment can now exceed your average home when it comes to finish and style, so staying at work actually becomes a positive choice.’’
This is exemplified in another of our properties that Dawn oversees, 65 Berry Street, North Sydney. This 18-storey office building was recently refurbished, and the ground floor and lobby have been reimagined as a shared space incorporating a wellness area including yoga facilities, a not-for-profit café, an artists’ studio, and gallery, and an auditorium and communal area where events such as exhibitions, morning teas, and after-work drinks are hosted.
Innovative landlords will continue to push boundaries in the quest to keep improving the tenant experience, says Dawn. “We are seeing developments going up now with running tracks, urban farms on the rooftops, or where the fire stairs are designed in such a way so that tenants can use them at lunchtime as a place to exercise,’’ says Dawn.
“It’s not about increasing net lettable area, but rather creating a great experience that you didn't previously get within an office building.’’ Ironically, she says, in the age of flexible working enhancing the appeal of the office environment is becoming more important than ever.
“Activity-based working and working from home may be on the increase, but in order to create collaboration you still need to get your staff together,’’ says Dawn. “To do that, you need to offer a place that people actually look forward to visiting.’’